Dear Pfanani Lishivha,
Last week something remarkable happened. SAMPRA lost a really big client: WOOLWORTHS. But through the power of social media, we won them back.
Woolworths has recently fallen on tough times financially & understandably have been trying to find ways to save money. One of the decisions they made this year was to start playing royalty free music from Swedish company, Epidemic Sound. This way, they could save themselves from having to pay royalty license fees to SAMPRA, but this meant they would no longer be playing South African music in their stores.
This decision affected all South African musicians. No license with Woolworths meant tighter royalty cheques for us, so like any good CEO, you let us know about what Woolworths had done & encouraged us to voice our concerns. I was one of a few artists that said something & I’d like to believe that Woolworths took my message to heart. Last week you broke the news that they’ve decided to renegotiate their license with SAMPRA as a result of the outcry. This has shown me that if artists & the public stand in solidarity on an issue, we have the power to change the status quo & I’d like to thank you for bringing the matter to our attention. A big thank you is also owed to Woolworths for actually listening & doing something about this issue. Legally Woolworths hadn’t broken any rules, yet they are choosing to remain committed to supporting local artists despite the tough economic climate; a decision I think we can all respect.
While this is all great news, I’D LIKE TO ADDRESS THE MASSIVE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. When the news about Woolworths broke, you did something bizarre, Mr. Lishivha: you talked about it on METRO FM, an SABC station that has been playing SAMPRA copyrighted music FOR YEARS, yet has NEVER PAID A CENT FOR IT. This is honestly the height of irony! The SABC owes SAMPRA in excess of R104.2mill (of which at least R100k I believe belongs to me), and not once have I ever heard you say anything about their blatant illegal operation. God forbid Woolworths chooses to play royalty free (legal) music. It’s completely bizarre! You were very quick to launch the hashtag #PlayOurMusicWoolies, despite the fact that Woolworths hadn’t even broken any laws. The SABC, however, HAVE broken the law. They have stolen R104.2mill from musicians pockets & not once have you made the effort to sue them, remove our music from their stations until they pay up, or at the very least, call them out on it. Why?
I have tried on multiple occasions to reach you & find out why you have remained silent on this matter. The more I try, the more deafening this silence becomes. The SABC’s blatant criminality has fallen on deaf ears, and the more I try to bring it to your attention, the more I suspect collusion. Where’s the #PayForOurMusicSABC hashtag? Where’s the legal action? The SABC might be less open to listening than Woolworths, but at the end of the day, YOU are in charge of our intellectual property. The power is in your hands to do what is right. Take a leaf out of Woolworths’ book: listen to our plight & do something about it.