Cape Town – The Kiffness says he's done with the South African public broadcaster's alleged exploitation of local artists.
The musician is demanding that the embattled SABC pays musicians "what's owed to them". The popular music act – whose real name is David Scott – says he refuses to let the SABC play any of his songs going forward because of non-payment.
He also asked that artists unite in removing their music to put pressure on the SABC. In March 2019 in parliament it was revealed that the SABC owes R248 million in outstanding payments to music rights organisations like the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro), the South African Music Performance Rights Association (Sampra), the Association of Independent Record Companies (Airco), the Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa) and more.
In a statement on The Kiffness' website he said: "I refuse to let the SABC exploit and play any of my music until they start paying artists what's owed to them" and that an organisation like Sampra is "in charge for paying artists needletime royalties, including session musicians, i.e. the guitarist or drummer behind the scenes who played on a song.
"Sampra owed me over R60 000 in needletime royalties for my music that has played in various public spaces over the years. I was shocked to find out that not one cent of that payout came from the SABC. And unsurprisingly, it's because the SABC have never paid Sampra. It's illegal, but they either think they're above the law or they simply just don't care (or both)."
"Judging by the amount of airtime I've received through Primedia stations (like KFM & 94.7) in comparison to SABC stations, I think it's safe to say that I'm owed in the region of R60 000 or more by the SABC in needletime royalties alone. And that's just needletime! Every station also has to legally pay a performance royalty fee to Samro who distribute a performance royalty (separate to the needle time royalty).
"Back in the day, artists were buying houses with the money they made from royalties. Today, we're in this weird situation where artists are just happy to have their song on the radio because the exposure means more to them than actually making a sustainable living. I call bullshit, and I refuse to have my music play on stations that don't give artists what they're owed. In my naivety, I would often convince myself to believe that the exposure I'd get from non-paying radio play is worth more than what I'm owed, but it's that same mentality which creates an overarching sense of complacency, but today I'm putting my foot down."
The Kiffness went on: "Please note that this has nothing to do with some of my friends and DJs like Nic Hamman, Das Kapital, Forbes & Fix, who are excellent DJs and I love listening to their shows on 5FM. They're just doing their jobs. This message is directed at the useless arseholes at the top who have no one's interests at heart but their own. By all means, if you like 5fm, keep listening.
"I don't expect you to care that South African musicians are being robbed of their livelihood, but I think it's important that this information becomes public knowledge. Do with it as you please. I can only hope that other artists (especially well-established artists who are owed way more than me) follow suit. We need the AKA IV League's and the Cassper Nyovest's and the Nasty C SA's to make a stand if this is going to make any difference for the session muso who could use some royalties to feed their family or get their careers off the ground, or in my case – retire one day," the Kiffness wrote.
Vuyo Mthembu, the SABC spokesperson in response to a media enquiry seeking comment from the broadcaster on The Kiffness' stand, told Channel24 that: "The SABC pays royalties to collecting societies not to artists directly. In this case, the band can take this up with collecting societies concerned and request the collecting society to exclude their work in the repertoire of music that is licensed to any organisation."