5 steps to making sure you get paid your SAMRO royalties

Having your music on radio can earn you a great passive income. Every time your song plays on radio, you are owed a publishing royalty. SAMRO collects those royalties from radio stations & pays them to the people who wrote the song. One spin of your song on a prominent station like Kfm or 947 can fetch anywhere from R60 to R200. I noticed that I had one spin on Metro FM which paid R450, probably one of the highest paying station in the country. Unfortunately smaller stations & community stations don’t pay as well due to smaller listenership or smaller advertising income.

Even if you’re signed to a label, publishing is money that the label can’t touch, something that a lot of artists don’t seem to know. This money belongs to the songwriter(s) & the publishers (if you have one). But getting that money from SAMRO can often feel like an uphill battle. But it doesn’t need to be, because I’m going to show you a fail proof way of making sure you never cheated of the money you’re owed.

Before I get into it, here’s a story of what happened to me recently, which inspired me to write this article:

I recently received my latest SAMRO Radio & General Report (for July 2018 – June 2019), and I noticed my statement said my one single “Lose You” with Ami Faku only received 14 spins on 947.

Here’s a screenshot of the statement that SAMRO sent me:

I knew this song played a lot more on radio & on other stations too, so I cross-checked it with my Radiomonitor report (a service which gives actual, accurate numbers) & it said song had actually received 1370 spins during that time.

So I queried SAMRO about it & they said they’d look into it.

They just got back to me now & said that they had accidentally paid another David Scott & that I’m owed over R30k for the song. I couldn’t believe it. This is not the first time this has happened, but on the plus side it seems like they’re going to be paying me back for their mistake. After receiving the news, I noticed that there are other songs that haven’t been reported correctly, so I might actually end up getting more than R30k.

The point is, had I messaged SAMRO and just said “you have not paid me correctly for my song”, they wouldn’t have taken my enquiry seriously. But I’ve equipped myself with the right tools & I have given them enough information to know what to do, and they were able to fix it. Without this knowledge, I would be losing out on money that rightfully belongs to me, and I’d also be wasting mine & SAMRO’s time.

 

So without further ado, here’s what you need to do to make sure SAMRO pay you correctly:

1. You need to be a SAMRO member

2. You need to get access to your SAMRO portal  

3. You need to register your songs & your splits correctly

4. You need to become a member of RadioMonitor

5. You need to check that your SAMRO statements correlate with your RadioMonitor statements

6. (UPDATE) You need to download SAMRO’s new Unit Rates document so you can work out EXACTLY what each station owes you 

 

1. You need to be a SAMRO member

You can’t receive royalties until you are a member of SAMRO. You can find out how to become a member over HERE.

2. You need to get access to your SAMRO portal 

Once you are a member, SAMRO will give you access to your SAMRO portal. You will give them your membership number (either telephonically or on email) & then they’ll give you a password in order to access the portal. You will use your membership number as your username. Once you’re logged into your portal, you will be able to access all kinds of useful data, register all your new songs & check to see if you’re getting paid for your works. You won’t get paid for a song until you’ve registered it.

3. You need to register your songs & your splits correctly

Make sure you have agreed on the songwriting splits with anyone who wrote the song with you before you register the song with SAMRO. I can’t stress how important this is.

If I produced a song, and someone else sang on it, I normally just go 50/50 with that person. Make sure you have the agreed splits in writing. If you submit a song differently to the other people who were involved in the song, then SAMRO won’t pay out your royalties until the splits correlate.

Your SAMRO portal allows you to register your new works quite easily. Simply click MY MUSIC on the left hand panel, then “New Notification”. Fill out all the fields, and if the song title is say “The Kiffness – Lose You ft. Ami Faku”, leave out the feature artist’s name when filling out the fields.

i.e. Title Work will just be “Lose You” & the Performing Artist will just be “The Kiffness”. The featured performer only needs to be addressed when you fill in the splits section.

If you were involved in the composition of the song or the lyrics, your role will be “Composer/Author”.

Important split information:

  • If you’ve written a song by yourself & you don’t have a publisher, you keep 100% of the performance right.
  • If you’ve written a song by yourself & you have a publisher, you keep 50% of the performance right & your publisher will take the other 50%. Make sure you include your publisher’s share in the split. Their share will always be equal to yours. Depending on your publishing deal, most publishers will pay back 2/3 of their cut back to you & keep 1/3 as an administration fee.
  • If you’ve written a song with other people, submit their splits along with yours. If they have a publisher, find out who their publisher is & make sure you submit them along with your publisher.
    Scenario: Let’s say I wrote a song with Ami Faku & we decide to go 50/50 on the songwriter’s split, but I was published with Sony ATV & she was with with Universal…I would submit the song as follows:

Make sure the PR share adds up to 100%.

4. You need to become a member of RadioMonitor

Once your song is on radio, RadioMonitor tracks your music’s activity on each radio station in South Africa (even if you’re not a member). If you do become a member, you’ll get access to the data which will enable you to see:

  • how many times your song has played
  • on what station &
  • on what day.

To become a member, email Jarrod Assenheim at jarrod@radiomonitor.com. The last I checked, the setup cost is R750 once off to add ALL your existing tracks (if you’ve had your stuff play on radio, it’s worth it). Any future releases are charged at R550 per track.

This data becomes particularly useful during SAMRO’s RADIO & GENERAL Distribution Cycle. This year, SAMRO have just paid out artists for songs that played on radio between 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019. 

Here are the previous distribution cycles:

2019 R & G – 2017 1 July – 30 June 2018

2018 R & G – 2016 1 July – 30 June 2017

If you are a member of SAMRO, you should have received your statement for this year’s distribution cycle. If they haven’t sent it to you, email them (24-7@samro.org.za) & ask them for your 2020 Radio & General statement & they should give it to you. Your statement will tell you which songs have played on which stations, how many times they’ve played & how much you got paid for each song between 1 July 2018 & 30 June 2019 (according to SAMRO). If you notice anything suspicious, cross-check your statement with your RadioMonitor reports.

If you’re not having any luck with that email, I would try emailing SAMRO’s General Manager, Karabo Senna. Karabo is the only person at SAMRO that has been able to really help me with these kinds of enquiries. karabo.senna@samro.org.za

RadioMonitor allows you to set custom date ranges. Set your range to 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019 & then RadioMonitor will give you the exact amount of spins for this years Radio & General cycle. You can also check the reports for each song separately.

If you notice any differences between your RadioMonitor report & your SAMRO report, let SAMRO know. Here’s the email which I sent to SAMRO which helped get the ball rolling with the “Lose You” issue.

As you may notice, I was firm but fair in my email. At the end of the day, you can’t get too frustrated or worked up about this stuff. You are dealing with people, and they are more likely going to help you if you treat them with respect & you give them the evidence they need to help you. While it’s not great that these mess ups happen, I’ve come to learn that a lot of the people at SAMRO want to help, but it definitely makes things easier for them if both parties know what’s going on.

 

6. (UPDATE): You need to download SAMRO’s new Unit Rates document so you can work out EXACTLY what each station owes you 

SAMRO have made a very important document available which shows exactly how many cents each station pays per second, according to the distribution cycle. This was the last piece of the puzzle piece, which I fought for over a year to obtain, thanks to the new chairman, Nick Maweni.

Download that document HERE

Here is the equation to work out what you’re owed exactly:

SAMRO payout = (Unit Value x Amount of seconds your song has played on a station) x your percentage split of the song

Unit Value: The amount of cents that each station pays per second of your song. Should be available on your SAMRO statements, and is also in the document that SAMRO have just released.

Amount of seconds your song has played on a station: Available on RadioMonitor reports.

Your percentage split of the song: Reported on your SAMRO reports. Make sure they correspond with the percentage split that you discussed with other song writers.

Example:

My song “Lose You” is 3min 23sec, and has played on 5fm 325 times in the last Radio Distribution Cycle.

Therefore, the amount of seconds it has played on 5fm in total is 203 x 325 = 65 975 seconds

According to SAMRO, the Unit Value for 5fm’s last distribution cycle is 0,277 cents per second.

There were other writers on the song, and after discussions, we agreed that I would be getting 47% of the royalty split.

We now have all the info we need to work out what I should be getting paid from 5fm for the last Radio Distribution Cycle.

SAMRO payout = (Unit Value x Amount of seconds your song has played on a station) x your percentage split of the song

SAMRO payout = (0,277 x 65 975) x .47 = R8589 from 5fm

I recommend setting up a Google Spreadsheet to make the whole process easier.

Set up the formula in the spreadsheet so that you don’t have to sit & crunch the numbers on a calculator

Here’s what mine looks like for reference:

If you’ve had a song on radio & you suspect that your song has gone undocumented i.e. you haven’t been paid for it, you can check SAMRO’s latest undoc list HERE

Conclusion:

If you can follow my steps, I am confident that your relationship with SAMRO will be a lot less frustrating & you will start seeing the fruits of your labour. As an artist myself, nothing makes me happier than seeing other artists in South Africa thrive, so I truly hope this article will help anyone who has had their music on radio but hasn’t been paid. If you know an artist that has had a lot of radio play, please forward this article onto him / her. It might just help them get their hands on R100k that they never knew about.

If you have any questions or if you have feedback on this article, feel free to connect with me on my social media platforms (I’m generally ok with responding to DMs, but forgive me if I don’t), or drop me an email at thekiffness@gmail.com.

If you want to find out more information about how royalty payments work & how you can make money from other royalty agencies like RiSA, CAPASSO & SAMPRA, check out my other article HERE.

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