She played Lindiwe Ngema Maseko on Scandal on etv, and for almost a decade, she was one of the most popular TV stars.
Now, the actress has given her fans a taste of what seems to be her newest work.
She went live for a short time on Instagram. It looked like she was in a studio sampling and making her song.
Fans who got to see her live before the show was cut short vouched for her and said her voice was great.
Nomvelo was in the studio, and it looks like she’s making some really good music for her fans.
She said, “Ngizoli zwisa (I will give it to you),” which was a short comment about the song.
Reports that she was leaving Scandal because of her relationship were not true, she said when she talked about it.
She said that people shouldn’t believe lies and that she was sick of hearing that bad story on social media.
She is trying out some new things, one of which seems to be music.
South Africa: SA Music Industry Exposed: Artists Aren’t Getting the Money
One of many sad facts is that R41 million of the R200 million in royalties that SAMPRA got in 2020 went to “administrative costs.”
The music of South Africa is in a rut. Local music made up half of the music scene in the country ten years ago. It’s less than a quarter today. In this part of our series, we look at what happened to the money.
Here is Part One.
Most people around the world see the music business as a place of glamour, wealth, power, and fame. On the inside, however, it is known for being unclear, messy, and corrupt. If South Africa wants to build a strong local music industry that will help aspiring musicians, it needs to be much more open.
Whoever has the money has control over the business. And part of the reason why the local music industry has been going down over the last ten years is that the money that is being made is reported in a confusing and contradictory way and no one is held accountable for it.
The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI), which was founded in 1933 and is based in Switzerland, is in charge of regulating the music business around the world. It handles music performance royalties all over Africa, except in South Africa, where Recording Industry South Africa does most of the work (RISA).
South Africa has a number of different agencies that report and collect royalties. SAMPRA collects royalties for music performances, RISA/RAV collects royalties for videos, and SAMRO collects royalties for composers and publishers of published music.
Royalties come from TV and radio, live performances, streaming music online, and restaurants and pubs that play music. This reporting and collecting system is hard to understand and causes a lot of confusion and duplication.
“Copyright lawyer Owen Dean says, “The Department of Trade and Industry has come up with new ideas, but they don’t understand the music industry, so all these ideas will do is add more red tape to a field that already has too much of it.” There are many collection agencies, and they all do the same work and charge a lot of money. I don’t understand why this has to be done.”
A few numbers will show how bad things really are:
SAMPRA is keeping more than R460 million in money that hasn’t been given out (according to its latest financial statements). These are the royalties that don’t go to record companies or musicians. Tiyani Maluleke, a spokesperson for SAMPRA, flatly denied this. He said that all royalty payments had been made, but he did not explain the R463,895,911 in excess cash on SAMPRA’s balance sheet.
According to its financials, RISA Audio Visual is also sitting on R60 million in license fees that are ready to be distributed. This money should go to record labels and musicians.
Some of the most expensive fees in the world are charged by the people who run South Africa’s collection societies. For example, SAMPRA spent R41 million of the R200 million it made in 2020 on “administrative costs.” Only 15 people work there. This is more than double what most agencies around the world charge. The average amount of money spent on administration around the world is about 7%. This is also the case with PPL, which is one of the largest collection agencies in the world.
The South African Music Industry Council (SAMIC), which was made to bring everyone in the music industry together, isn’t working because people are fighting with each other.
“The problem with SAMIC now is that there isn’t enough democracy and there are too many egos,” says Brian Mokoena, a former board member. “This group was set up to help the industry, but people are using it to help themselves.”
SAMIC president Vusi Leeuw was sent an email asking him to respond to Eugene Mthethwa and Brian Mokoena’s claims of infighting and lack of organization. At the time of publication, Leeuw had not replied.
The Minister of Sympathy
Eugene Mthethwa, who was once the president of SAMIC and has been a vocal advocate for musicians’ rights for many years, says, “SAMIC is not what it was supposed to be anymore. Now, only money and pride matter.”
He says that the industry doesn’t care about local artists until they die, and that while they are still alive, the industry keeps their royalties.
“When a musician dies, politicians go to their funeral to say nice things about them. We call Nathi Mthethwa, who is in charge of arts and culture, the Minister of Condolences. But as long as musicians are alive, playing, and having their royalties stolen, they don’t exist.”
We tried to get the Department of Arts and Culture and the minister to say something, but they didn’t respond.
Aside from broadcast and video royalties, digital streaming services also don’t send money back to the country. Multinational companies keep their money outside of South Africa and don’t put it back into the country.
In the end, most of the money in the South African music industry goes to three international record companies: Sony, Universal, and Warner. It doesn’t go to the talented South African musicians who make the music and are the only part of the system that can’t be replaced.
Gary van Zyl has been in music for 40 years and has played with the Dealians, Clout, and Juluka. He has seen the South African music industry fall from its peak. He says that bad management of royalty payments was the main cause of its demise.
“SAMPRA pays me, but only a little bit at a time, and it’s hard to figure out why,” he says. “There are no statements, no records, no documentation. When I once asked for a statement, I got a very strange document that seemed to have been put together quickly just for me. There seems to be a lot of chaos in the agencies that collect debts.”
In 2019, Clive Hardwick, the former CEO of Bula Music, which was the label for Rebecca Malope, Shwi Nomtekhala, Lebo Mathosa, Lundi, the Mahotella Queens, and Pure Magic, sent a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) request to Gallo Music, which is now owned by Arena Holdings.
Hardwick sold Bula Music to Gallo in 2014, and he wanted to know if any royalties were due from before the sale. He says that Gallo not only ignored the PAIA request, but they also sued Hardwick for slander. The case has been going on for two years, and it has become very messy and complicated. Hardwick still doesn’t know if he is owed any royalties.
Jerusalema: a classic case
The smash hit, Jerusalema, shows how messy the South African music business is. The DJ and record producer Master KG’s song with Nomcebo Zikode’s voice got more than 400 million online views. At its height, it was the song that people looked for the most on the Shazam app. People who work in the industry hinted that the hit song had made millions of rands in royalties.
When it became popular as a “Dance Challenge,” Warner Music put a stop to its use and started sending companies that had used the song in YouTube videos requests for royalties.
But singer Zikode says that neither her management company, Open Mic Productions, nor Warner Music have given her a single penny in royalties. She has told her lawyers about the problem.
Open Mic Productions replied that the royalty payments were being held up because of a contract dispute. Another musician, Charmza the DJ (real name: Ntimela Chris Chauke), is suing Master KG for copyright infringement.
After figuring out how many times the song had been streamed, how many times it had been watched on YouTube and TikTok, how many times it had been searched for, and how many times it had been downloaded, the royalties came to about R10 million. But this is based on online algorithms, not real royalty numbers, so it’s likely that the amounts are less. Contracts and royalty agreements give some of the royalties to the record label, publishers, copyright holders, performers, managers, executives, and agents.
So when the royalties get to South Africa, everyone has already gotten their share. And because of the secret way that royalty payments are reported, no one will ever know how much money Jerusalema made.
Secretive business people
The way executives in the recording business responded to our questions shows how hard it is to get information from them. Many requests for interviews and comments were either denied or ignored.
The RISA industry report for 2020 said that South Africa’s music industry made a total of R456 million. From this, international record labels made R368 million and local music companies made R88 million. So, local music’s market share has gone down from 50% ten years ago to less than 20% now, and it will go down another 4.5% from 2019 to 2020.
But when a RISA spokesperson was asked about the numbers, they said that the numbers did not come from RISA, even though they were taken from a report that RISA had already put out. After this was brought up, no one said anything else.
When asked about why South African music is getting worse, Chief Stakeholder Officer Tiyane Malaluke said: “Explain what you mean by “decline.” South African music is becoming more popular around the world. Mapiano, a style of music from South Africa, is the most popular style of music in East, Central, and West Africa right now. Some South African musicians are very popular in Western Europe, like DJ Maphorisa, Moonchild Sanelly, and others. That’s not going down.”
She didn’t say anything about the numbers that showed the drop in money made.
The CEOs of Warner, Tracy Fraser, Universal, and Sony, Sipho Dlamini and Sean Watson, were asked for comments more than once, but none of them replied. Because of a court case, Gallo CEO Rob Cowling said he wouldn’t say anything.
Black Coffee, a South African DJ, club music star, and international businessman who was recently nominated for a Grammy, was another person we talked to. On his website, he says that he invests in South African art and new businesses, but his investment company, Flightmode, is registered outside of South Africa. He did not respond.
Clive Hardwick, the former owner of Bula Music and a music activist, realized in 2020 that the independent music scene in South Africa was almost dead. He started the Independent Music Community (IMC) to try to bring the independents back to life.
“I took a few years off from the music business, but when I came back to it in 2019, I found it in a terrible state,” he said. “I thought that because of the money coming in from broadcasting, the industry would be lively and full of life. I found myself in a rut.”
“As IMC, we are making some headway in putting the South African music industry back together. The first thing on our list is to deal with unfair business practices and the fact that copyright and royalties are not clear.”
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