Andre Le Roux: How to direct the money into the artist’s pocket

Andre Le RouxAndre Le Roux, what is the problem with mobility in Africa, and what should be changed?

The biggest problem with mobility is that too much emphasis has been placed on colonial borders. We do not understand that artists need to travel, and that artists need to be able to go from one place to the other. I wish that our governments and our regional partners could understand that this is the way we are going to build the live music circuit. Live music is the way the artists make money nowadays. They don’t make much money from recording, and earnings from rights come much later. But in order to just travel and tour within a city, within a region, within a town, within the SADC region[1], we need to incentivise a large mobility.

So the live acts are crucial for the income of the artists?

Totally. Usually live means money in your back pocket, you are able to go, you don’t have to wait for something. You know, royalty income means you have to be a member, and sometimes you wait over a year to a year and a half to get paid. The recording industry means your music gets pirated. The consumption of live music has increased tremendously in South Africa, within the region as well and abroad. I work for the collecting society SAMRO, like GEMA in Germany, and we can see how artists are struggling because the economy is not doing well. The best way for us to do something beneficial is to engage with live music, so we partnered with the Norwegian government to develop the Concerts SA programme, which focused on stabilizing live music venues. It is nice to perform at festivals. But festivals are temporary and they are not regular. In order to build audiences, in order to get regular small amounts into the pockets of artists and to build a consumption, live music and live music venues are important.

Are there such venues?

Yes, there are fantastic live music venues. If you visit our website, we have a map that includes links to venues from Cape Town to Tanzania. So our Mobility Fund gives about $2000 to artists to tour in South Africa and about $3000 to tour within the SADC regions. So not only are there venues in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, there are venues across all nine provinces in South Africa, and there are venues between South Africa and Tanzania and Maputo. And what’s nice about the map on our site: If you click on the map you will see where the venue is located, you see the website for the venue, you will even see the contact details of the venue owner. And in that way it becomes a useful working resource. So, on the one hand we subsidize the artist’s fee in terms of mobility and subsidizing the costs, on the other hand we built a resource.

How is the situation of the collecting business in South Africa and generally in Africa?

In SA we generate 500 Mill. Rand, which is about 33 Mill. Euro. Which is nice, and we employ 200 people. We are the biggest in Africa, bigger than some of the European collection societies, and we sit at the board of CISAC. The situation with SAMRO in South Africa is good. However, on the rest of the continent the framework of legislation is weak. Even within Senegal the collecting societies are weak and not collecting enough. The tariff structures don’t work well enough. So the institutional infrastructure is too weak. That shows a reality. CISAC just issued in a report, and in the report the figure is 10.1 billion in USD for global collections. Of that 10.1 billion the whole continent of Africa is less than one percent. That is so sad. That sadness is the weakness of collecting societies on the continent. Baaba Maal talked about the industry. Is Baaba Maal a member of the collecting society in Senegal? The answer is No. So, many top artists belong to collection societies outside of the continent. Why? Because those collection societies work better in those areas for them. But if we strengthen the institutional, organisational infrastructure, then you don’t talk about mobility of artists, you talk about mobility of revenue. You talk about mobility of money, music money on the continent. Focus on the collection societies? Nice. But you need models of business and practice to build those institutions. And if you build those institutions, you build the ability of trade. And if you build the ability of trade, you build the ability for the money to flow on the continent. And it gets back to the artists, gets back to the composers, gets to the publisher. And as SAMRO, that’s our thrust now. We need to build a collection society framework which can stabilize the music industry. The reason I am here and part of Music in Africa is because we know we are a social conscience to build that infrastructure for music on the continent.

(Dakar, 17.11.2017)

[1] The South African Development Community (SADC) with its headquarters in Gaborone (Botswana) comprises 15 States in Southern Africa including Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles. It is an inter-governmental organisation whose goal is to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient productive systems, deeper co-operation and integration, good governance and durable peace and security among its Member States.

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