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Southern African Music Rights Organisation

SAMRO’s primary role is to administer Performing Rights on behalf of SAMRO members. They do so by licensing music users (such as television and radio broadcasters, live music venues, retailers, restaurants, promoters, and shopping centers), through the collection of license fees which are then distributed as royalties.

The difference between SAMRO and SAMPRA.

SAMPRA pays out Needletime royalties to artists and record labels whereas SAMRO distributes Performance royalties.


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Copyright Act, 1978 (Act No. 98 of 1978 as amended)
The copyright law of South Africa governs copyright, the right to control the use and distribution of artistic and creative works, in the Republic of South Africa.

It protects the following works: literary works, musical works, artistic works, cinematograph film works, sound recordings, broadcasts, program-carrying signals, published editions, and computer programs. The duration of copyright in the above-mentioned works is not less than 50 years.

Performers Protection Act (11 of 1967, as amended)
Performing rights are the right to perform music in public. It is part of copyright law and demands payment to the music’s composer/lyricist and publisher

Performing Rights as three distinct rights in a musical work:

the right to perform a work in public,
the right to broadcast work and,
the right to transmit a work through a diffusion service.

Description / Interpretation

So, whenever an original song is a broadcast, played, or performed in public, the rights holders in that work should earn royalty income by law. The owners of the Performing Rights in a musical work are the composers, lyricists, and music publishers.

An important point: if someone sings or plays a musical instrument on a song, but hasn’t written any part of that song, they will NOT earn Performing Rights royalties from it. Singers/instrumentalists who are not composers may well earn a performance fee when they perform live at a venue or festival, as well as revenue from CD sales or downloads via their record company, but they will not earn Performing Rights royalties from SAMRO.

The songwriter assigns the Performing Rights in a particular song to SAMRO to administer. They have to stipulate who wrote the music and the words, and who published the work. They also need to outline each rights holder’s percentage share in each musical work. For example, if they are in a band and a song was a collaborative effort, you need to indicate how the royalties should be split.

SAMRO then licenses businesses, individuals, and broadcasters to use any of the millions of works in its global repertoire. From radio, television, and internet stations to restaurants, nightclubs, music festivals, shopping malls, car washes, and spaza shops that play music in public, they all have to apply and pay license fees to SAMRO based on a sliding scale of tariffs. They also have to keep track of the music they play and submit detailed usage returns to SAMRO.

Based on the playlists and usage returns received from its licensees, SAMRO will then calculate the royalties owing to the composers, lyricists, and publishers of a particular musical work, and will deposit the money into their account during its annual royalty distribution cycles.

Type of Business that Requires a SAMRO License

Each type of Business has its Application Form and Requirements List for registration.

A - H

– Amusement, Arcades Park & Fairgrounds
– Audio Visual Programmes used for Educational or Training Purposes
– Banqueting Suites
– Choirs & Vocal Ensembles
– Cinema Movies
– Clubs
– Community Radio Broadcasting Services
– Dancing Schools
– Gymnasia & Fitness Centres
– Hair Dressing Salons & Barber Shops
– Halls
– Hotels

I - P

– Incidental & or Certain Music (1)
– Incidental Music for Religious Service
– Industrial Premises & Factories, Canteens, etc
– Live Music Performance
– Motor Coaches, Taxi & Minibuses
– Municipal Facilities & Stadiums
– Music Concerts
– Music on Hold
– Pubs & Similar Premises

R - W

– Racetracks & Stadiums
– Radio & Television Broadcasting Services
– Radio & Television Diffusion Services
– Radio Outside Broadcast
– Restaurants, Cafes, Coffee, Shops & Similar Premises
– Shops, Stores, Showrooms, Offices, Banks & Similar Premises
– Taverns, Shebeens & Similar Premises
– Universities & Colleges


A SAMRO (The Southern African Music Rights Organisation) License or Application is not transferable at the change of ownership (When the Business is Sold) or from one premise to another (When the Business is relocated). The SAMRO License is “Renewable” annually, by the Metropolitan Councils, Local Town Municipalities, or District Councils, depending on the geographical area and by-laws of the Council and or Municipality.