This year, the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) is celebrating 60 years of its existence and the numbers indicate that the turnaround strategy implemented by the board is music to everyone's ears.
In December 1961, SAMRO held its first-ever board meeting and annual general meeting (AGM), and a few weeks later, in January 1962, it opened for business.
For the first time in SAMRO's history, this year the AGM was hosted outside Johannesburg. It was held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal on 10 December 2021.
Addressing the AGM, SAMRO Chairperson Nicholas Maweni said: “Now and then it is good to pause in the pursuit of inner reflections and to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow".
He warned that the COVID-19 crisis was by no means over for the music sector.
"It is without a doubt that the impact of COVID-19 will be felt long into 2022 and beyond as many international music collective management organisations continue to expect a revenue downturn in a range of between 25% and 35%," said Maweni.
This financial year, SAMRO collected R476,5 million in licence and royalty income, down by just 7%, and the amount available for distribution increased by 4% to R338,8 million, against R325,8 million in 2020.
Maweni said the downturn was due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the general economic environment, which continued to affect our licensees.
In the last two years, SAMRO has been implementing a strategy with key focus areas on increasing revenue, improving systems and processes, improving reputation, cost management and consolidating the music industry.
SAMRO’s cost-to-income ratio dropped to 28% compared to 40% three years ago. Online revenue was up by 110%.
SAMRO continues to efficiently administer music rights on behalf of members – music composers, authors, and publishers – and strives to be the leading and most admired collective management organisation in Africa, respected by the global community and members.
SAMRO has grown to represent over 126 000 members locally of which more than 80% of them have yet to break the threshold for full membership criteria.
“There are now over 2 000 membership applications that are received a month," said Maweni.
The chairperson of SAMRO added: "We are looking at how to best manage such massive growth in member numbers, which outstrips any of our sister societies anywhere, insofar, as we have been able to determine."
As the organisation celebrates its diamond jubilee, it has achieved significant milestones including successfully collecting and distributing over R7 billion in royalties to its members in the last six decades.
Many SAMRO members are now proud of SAMRO as a progressive and innovative organisation that strives to maximise value for them. The SAMRO board has set an audacious target of seeing the organisation reaching R1 billion in revenue by 2025.
“We do what is right, not what is easy. We will continue to find ways to strengthen the board and executive management, ensure accountability and drive strategic thinking," said Maweni.
"The need for inclusive and ethical leadership has never been stronger."
Maweni said it was clear that SAMRO’s board understands that their role extends beyond oversight as the organisation plays an integral part in society. SAMRO ensures that its members' works that are commercially broadcast and played are paid royalties from licence fees collected.
"We all look forward to the next chapter of SAMRO as hums to celestial musical heights," concluded Maweni.