Nick M


by Nick Matzukis
Advocate of the High Court
Lecturer in Music Law and Business
Academy of Sound Engineering

PART 1 of 3
Music Publishers are executives or organizations that acquire assignment of the copyright in your compositions (as opposed to the copyright in your recordings – a different copyright) and exploit them on your behalf. In other words, they represent composers and ‘exploit’ (license, sell, etc) their compositions. They do so for a percentage of the proceeds that can vary from 25% up to 60% (in some cases), and should therefore be very well-connected in the industry in order to be successful and useful to the composer.

Composers sometimes sign full publishing agreements, or sometimes variants thereof, like “Administration Agreements”, which deal with the administration/royalty collection side of the business only, and leave out other responsibilities. Let us deal with the full publishing agreement in this article. This agreement is sometimes also called the “Exclusive Songwriter Agreement”.

The most immediate income in the music industry does not in fact come from recording - it comes from publishing.

Put another way, the mechanical and performance royalties that attach to the copyright in the composition, if you are the songwriter, are far more likely to earn you money early on than the artist royalties that you will receive from the record company (as well as the needletime) if you are a recording artist as well. (For example, the composer will be paid mechanical royalties from the time that CD’s containing his/her compositions are manufactured, while the recording artist will only receive sales royalties once sales take place [if at all, because of possible record label recoupments.])

It is not possible to understand music publishing agreements without understanding how copyright works. This is a long and detailed topic which cannot be covered here, and I suggest you do a course that analyses and explains the different copyrights. However, I will attempt to give you a broad introduction to the implications of publishing agreements in this article.

The first and most important point to understand is that, when a piece of music is written and recorded, not one, but two  copyrights come into existence. The first is the Copyright in the Composition (ie the origination and creation of the music) and the second is the Copyright in the Recording, an entirely separate and distinct copyright. These two copyrights can, and often are, owned by different parties. However, if they have not been contractually assigned to someone else (usually a publisher for the Composition and a record label for the recording), it may well be the artist who owns both. There are companies that seek to acquire assignment of both copyrights from you (especially the major record labels, all of whom have recording and publishing companies), and there are independent firms that are also now seeking to acquire 360 deals (the topic of another article), which would include both these copyrights (as well as touring and merchandising). But nevertheless, the fact remains that these are two separate copyrights that must be considered separately. They therefore give rise to separate earning streams (mechanical and performance royalties and synchronization of the composition in the case of the first, and sales royalties, needle-time and synchronization of the recording in the case of the second.) In the purest sense, the publisher is only interested in, and involved in, the first. Let us presume, for the purposes of this article, that we are dealing with a ‘pure’ publisher, and therefore that it is only the Copyright in the Composition that is being discussed here.

More in PART 2 of this article.

Music Business is Key: “Music Talks” at Awesome Africa International Arts Festival in Mandeni

Mandeni posterThe Awesome Africa International Arts Festival in partnership with Onexus Music Business Solutions presents a business workshop which will take place on Freedom Day, Monday 27 April at Sibusisiwe Hall in Mandeni. The aim of the workshop is to impart knowledge and boost growth in the local music sector of the iLembe region on the north coast.

Awesome Africa and Onexus are inviting all musicians, music managers, music producers and other interested parties who want to know more about the business side of music to attend their “Music Talks” sessions.

Topics that will be covered in the sessions include introduction into the music industry, performing platforms and funding opportunities, contracts and copyrights, studio etiquette and the value of sound, the digital freeway and international marketing and identity. A wide range of speakers will take part on the “Music Talks” couch to deliver a lowdown of all they have learnt in their prolific musical endeavours. Some of the speakers include the legendary Ray Phiri who is the founder of the renowned award winning group called Stimela. Marlyn Ntsele from iSupport Music Business who has worked across various roles in the music industry which include project management, artist production as well as events organising. Awesome Africa director Dan Chiorboli who has been in the music industry for over 25 years will chair a session. Sihle Mthembu journalist at East Coast Radio and Thulile Zama vocalist and founder of popular jazz band Heels over Head.
The workshop is free of charge. Registration starts at 9am and the first session will commence at 10am. For more information contact Gabi on 081 419 9409.

This business workshop is part of Awesome Africa International Arts Festival presented Awesome Africa Festival Productions and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, which features a host of world-renowned performers across a number of genres. The festival will take place over two days in different venues, kicking off with a Gala Concert at The Playhouse on Sunday, April 26 and followed by a full day at the Sibusisiwe Community Hall and Lovelife Centre in Mandeni, iLembe District on the North Coast on Monday, April 27.
For more information on the festival go to www.awesomeafrica.co.za

SXSW 2015

by Russel Hlongwane

sxsw2015Once a year in the month of March thousands of musicians, filmmakers and interactive app designers make their way to the proportioned city of Austin, Texas. For what you may ask? They make this important trip for a week of lectures, music product launches, music showcases and panel discussions by the highest standing industry shapers. It is the world’s biggest conference of its kind, boasting an overwhelming number of activities in the small town of Austin.  

One of our team members had the privilege of attending the 2015 SXSW event and took some notes and here are his distilled thoughts;



You are a musician without a website? Seriously? In 2015?

By Segodi Leshalabe

Source: www.segodileshalabe.co.za


The world of music has changed dramatically ever since the days of Napster. For those who don’t know what Napster is, it was the first true music sharing website. Within a short period of its being available online, it already had millions of users. Major record labels were left fuming as their bread and butter was swept right under their noses. Lawsuits followed and by the time it was all over, one thing was certain, the music industry had just undergone a major change and was never to be the same again.

Nowadays in most parts of the world the CD is but a forgotten item. Music is consumed digitally. With all the online tools readily available, the era of artists depending on their record labels to do their marketing or even release their music, is fading away. Social media has made it even easier. With all these tools however, having a website should still be a number one priority for every artist. Why? Because that is where you can sell your music and your merchandise and get to keep 100% of the profits as you cut out the middle man, or is it a woman now? lol. Not only that, but that is also the one place where you can be the main person, not like on social media where you competing for space with many others. But if all those don’t count, then consider this last one: This is the place where you can also collect your fans email addresses. Many may argue that email marketing is dead but wait, not so fast. You can have thousands or even millions of followers on Facebook or Twitter but guess what, that data is not yours. You have no control over it and if tomorrow Facebook decides to close down, what will you be left with? Okay, maybe that is too extreme an example, so let’s tone it down. People move with the trends. The current trend dictates where those people gather. Currently Facebook and Twitter has a larger share of the pie. But if tomorrow a new trend comes up and all those people decides to move from these networks to go gather at the new spot, guess what, you will be left with nothing and you will have to start all over again. That would not happen if you also have their email addresses. Yes email addresses do change occasionally but this won’t be a rapid change. Besides, your true fans are most likely to send you their new address when they change. There was a time when MySpace was thee social network to be at. Companies and artists spends thousands of Rands/Dollars and hours to build their fan base on the network. Then Facebook came, and people began moving away from Myspace to Facebook. Guess what happened to all those investments spend on building MySpace audience. It felt like it was eroded overnight. At the rate at which technology changes, you really don’t want to be caught napping. I’m not saying social media aren’t important, because trust me they are. “Music is helping power social media platforms. For example, in 2013, nine in 10 of the most watched videos of all time on YouTube were music videos, led by PSY’s Gangnam Style which had been viewed more than 1.2 billion times at the time. Nine in 10 of the most liked people on Facebook were artists. Seven of the top 10 most followed people on Twitter were also artists” (Source: IFPI Digital Music Report 2013). In the near future I will dedicate an article on Music and social media. Watch the space.

So my closing advice is, build yourself a website, gather your fans email addresses and link your site to your twitter and facebook and all other social media you are active on. Make sure though that on all those media, your fans know that you have a single home (website) where they can find you and your products. Give out special offers that are available only via the website, thus keeping your loyal fanbase captivated and benefitting as well. So if you don’t have website, stop, call whoever your digital marketer is (you do have one right? That is one of my future topics) and ask them to make sure you have a website. It won’t cost you much and the benefits will be so much more. You don’t have to go fancy at the start. Remember people mainly seek information before admiring the bells and whistles. Those are good yes but if you have limited budget, then start somewhere small. Tools like WordPress, Joomla, etc have all made it possible to build decent websites at next to no cost (In future I shall dedicate an article on this topic). Another benefit of having a website is that, if you are also a publisher of your own music, then you can create your own library online and pursue synch licensing opportunities (In future I shall dedicate an article on this topic). When people type in in yournameandsurname.com or .co.za who are they going to find? When people Google you, seeking to book you or buy your music, who’s gonna come up the list? I leave you with those thoughts to ponder on.

The Record Company - who does what? Part 4

by Marlyn Ntsele and Russel Hlongwane


Transferring of rights

The essence of a record contract is that the record company gets the exclusive rights to release music during a certain period of time and within a certain part of the universe. In return the artist gets a percentage of the profits – also called a royalty.

Sometimes the royalty is not a set percentage, but it might increase once the record sales have reached a certain level. For instance: 6% over the first 1000 records and 8% for everything above this. This is also referred to as a sliding scale.

The Record Company - who does what? Part 3

by Marlyn Ntsele and Russel Hlongwane

The first meeting with a record company
If you know what your expectations are, you can take the next step: set up a meeting with the record company. If the company likes your demo they will invite you for an introduction meeting. That first meeting is a “no strings attached” meeting for both parties. Nevertheless it is an exam for which most musicians fail. Often it already goes wrong with the answer to the first question: what would you like to achieve with your music? Even though the answer seems completely logical, most musicians do not what to say, simply because it seems so far away from their daily activities of study or work. The only right answer is that you want to spend all your time on music, day and night, for the rest of your life. A record company does not want amateurs, but top musicians that are obsessed by their career.

The Record Company - who does what? Part 2

by Marlyn Ntsele and Russel Hlongwane


Before you start looking for a record company it is good to know what you expect from your record company. The conversation and negotiations with them are different, depending on if you are looking for an artist deal, a licensing deal or a distribution deal.

In part 2 of the "Record company, who does what?" we look at the A&R function and Record contract, the different types of deals and what it is that the A&R does.



Individuals and registered arts organisations involved in theatre, dance, music, visual arts, craft, literature and multi-discipline have until 12 December 2014 to submit their applications for project funding. This will be the NAC’s only round of funding for next year across all seven arts fields. Post-graduate students who wish to pursue their arts studies abroad are also encouraged to apply.

Projects should be of national significance, focusing on the creation of new works and on overall arts development. Those that have a strong community base and have been conceived in collaboration with others working in similar fields are also encouraged to apply.

Says NAC CEO Rosemary Mangope: “At the National Arts Council we are committed to changing the landscape of South Africa’s creative industries. Key to this transformation is not only supporting SA’s existing centres of arts excellence, but also identifying and fostering emerging talent nationwide – those organisations and individuals that will be our future standard-bearers for the arts, both nationally and internationally.

“In our on-going efforts to ensure the arts are as inclusive as possible, we are particularly keen to encourage funding applications from arts organisations and individuals that support the involvement of women, youth and those living with disabilities. We also welcome applications from students who are not only interested in studying abroad, but also committed to returning to SA to share the knowledge and experience they have gained with their peers.”

Successful applications will be notified on 15 April 2015. This year, the NAC awarded grants totalling over R18 million to applicants drawn from all nine South African provinces, plus an additional R9 million in special project funding to 13 flagship arts organisations.

Application forms and funding guidelines are available from the National Arts Council office (Tel: 011 838 1383) or can be downloaded HERE.


The Record Company - who does what?

by Marlyn Ntsele and Russel Hlongwane


A record deal, almost every musician dreams about it. I am sure that you have also heard the horror stories about all that can go wrong with a recording contract. This article will explain how the South African recording industry works, why you would get yourself a recording contract and what to keep in mind while negotiating.


Your Album Release - hardcopy

by Siphesihle Msomi

img cd replicationThe music industry has proven to be very turbulent, so much that you cannot predict the most likely operative trend by merely copying successes of the past. In its creative nature, this industry has shown that you do not only need to know about music creatively but also about its business practices. As an example, marketing has had a direct impact on methods of releasing your album, because you need to think about how you release it and to whom- your target market.


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