Samro appeals to financial institutions to be lenient on artists amid Covid-19 restrictions on entertainment industry

Lady Zamar (Photo: Gallo)
Lady Zamar (Photo: Gallo)

According to Samro, President Ramaphosa's response to the growing number of reported coronavirus cases in the country is expected to have a substantial effect on several industries, in particular those that derive their income from hosting and performing at events. 

"Samro appreciates and welcomes the president's swift action to contain the spread of the coronavirus. We are gravely concerned about what this ban on large gatherings will mean for our members' financial well-being," said Nicholas Maweni, Chairperson of Samro. 

On Sunday, President Ramaphosa placed a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people, and according to Samro the announcement has had an adverse effect on live events and performances, which are a source of income for Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro), members.

Samro, Africa's leading Collective Management Organisation, is responsible for collecting royalty fees and distributing them to more than 16 000 authors, composers and publishers who rely to some degree, on royalties for their livelihoods.

The majority of Samro members have two major income streams, including royalties collected by Samro, which are distributed periodically as well as income from performing at events. 

The royalties paid by broadcasters to Samro on behalf of members represent considerable sums. However, the average Samro member relies on income from events in-between royalty distributions.

"Many will instinctively turn to Samro for financial bailouts. The financial pressure this will have on Samro is one that we are unable to bear," says Maweni.

Maweni, says the current situation-while dire for the music industry in the short-term, need not be all doom and gloom and has laid the following:

1. We request all our members to urgently contact their creditors, particularly the financial institutions and landlords and advise them of their changed financial situation and negotiate payment terms to avoid tarnishing their good credit records.

2. We call on all the event owners not to cancel but postpone shows and events until the ban on large gatherings has been lifted.

3. We call on the financial services industry to take cognisance of the erratic nature of Samro members earning patterns and appeal to banks and landlords in particular to be more lenient, at least in the next few months, should members request a rescheduling of their facilities' repayment commitments, be they unsecured loans or asset-based finance instruments.

4. We also call upon all the broadcasters to go beyond their mandates and play more locally produced music which will help, in some way, to offset lost earnings from shows and events and will help with social cohesion in this time of need. 

"Consider this gesture as an act of patriotism, the definitive response to Thuma Mina and an opportunity to do good in the often-neglected music arts industry. Samro does not wish to see its members' careers damaged beyond resuscitation because our members' financial standing with lending institutions is so severely compromised that they are unable to raise funds for future projects," concludes Maweni.

Samro further wishes to assure all its members of its commitment to providing as much support as possible during this challenging period.

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