Wednesday, May 23, 2007

so you’re a poor musician?

By day you may
have your head on a desk, by night,
fingers bleed over your
(/drums/percussion/keyboard/mic/double bass/flute/sax/insert appropriate),
and chest...
but nothing makes your heart bleed more
than how very fucking far
you have to go to make a buck on a note or a beat,

Musicians are poor. Instruments cost the earth. Gigs and tours and posters and t-shirts and buttons and flyers and drinks for gorgeous fans (it is too marketing) cost the moon and the sun and - the lifestyle, well, it doesn’t come cheap. But surely MTV is proof that musicians can make moerse mullah? Well, yes, but Ma Se Televisie also fuels the argument that you have to be a sell-out to sell lots of records. And that could lead a respectably employed musician to give it all up and take up busking. (which some argue is more lucrative in the short term. till winter comes. and it's winter now.) Thing is, you’re not alone.

There is an organisation that believes in you and puts their money where their long list of How Tos is. If you’re a
composers, songwriters and/or music publisher (or all 3), you can make more than the door at your next gig. And while, unfortunately, in a post lib SA, we still lack the inherent infrastructure to make this a smooth process, you’ll be unsurprised to discover that your actions could make all the difference.

I asked wise, wonderful Roach about it all.

tell, what's the score for restaurants and cafes playing SA music inhouse?> are there royalties incurred? what's the law on royalties?

SA copyright law says that any venue performing music publicly, that includes live or recorded music, foreign or local, must get a license for 'public performance of music from the local performance rights society. In SA that’s SAMRO.

Note - they're only paying composers and publishers - NOT the performing artists / labels.

So what should happen is that each venue should negotiate and pay a blanket license fee to SAMRO for the rights to perform any and all music in their venue (bar, restaurant, festival, club, even clothes store playing CDs). This should be as essential a license as a liquor license, and in countries like France it's treated as such, but here it's sadly not the same.... yet

By SAMRO’s estimation, some 70% of venues are not applying for licenses or paying their fees, and they're not pursuing it particularly hard either (cos they collect 20 times as much money from public performance via broadcasters). Also, there's no onus on the restaurants themselves to report what music they actually played. The onus falls on the composers themselves. So, when you register your tracks at SAMRO, they give you a bunch of 'live performance notifications' forms. You should take one to every gig you do, fill in your set list with the names of your songs at the end of the show, get the venue to stamp it, then submit these to SAMRO. Anyone who does this gets a share of the blanket licenses collected by SAMRO for public venue performance; anyone who doesn't, well, can't get any.

So, if you as an SA band want to get paid public performance royalties from gigs (i know some who've been paid thousands extra just by being diligent with paperwork from even small gigs):

1. Register your music at SAMRO

2. Remember to fill in your 'live performance notification' forms after each gig and get the venues to stamp ‘em

3. If the venue won't stamp, report ‘em to SAMRO so they can send someone round to start the hustle for payment

4. Send your forms back to SAMRO

5. Wait 2 - 5 years to get paid :)

SAMRO is also a member of CESAC the international association of collection societies, so you should get paid for foreign gigs n tours etc via their reciprocal arrangements with sister CESAC members who collect performance royalties in other countries. Overseas in places like France and Belgium, the onus falls on the venue, not the artists, to report what was played, so you have a far greater of chance of being paid more effectively and quickly.

How much do you get paid???

Depends on how much they've collected and how many other people have submitted claims - as far as i can tell. i do know some people who made many thousands from doing a few regular gigs at smallish venues that paid their smallish fees. my feeling is that most people aren't submitting reports, so they end up paying the few who do a much bigger amount then they should get from all the monies they collect and aggregate.

hope that helps...

big up Roach. Always on the backs of the demons and the shoulders of the darlings...

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