International

South African Music Rights Agency Partners With Tech Firm to Boost Streaming Collections

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CAPASSO and Muserk deal comes amid uncertainty about update to South Africa’s copyright law.

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s largest mechanical rights organization, the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO), has partnered with Muserk, a global music rights administrator focusing on the digital space, to help collect royalties from music streaming services in North and South America.

Muserk, based in New York, will collect CAPASSO’s mechanical rights from YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Pandora, Tidal and Deezer, as well as from YouTube in Brazil and Canada, the company says. As a result of the deal, African artists should receive more revenue, the companies say. To date, Muserk has been privately funded.

“In light of the increased international spotlight on African music, it is imperative to our members that the management of African musical works improves so that authors, composers, and publishers collect all of the royalties that they have earned — quickly and transparently,” Jotam Matariro, CAPASSO’s CEO, says in a statement announcing the partnership.

Matariro says the organization is linking up with Muserk to help grow the collection and distribution of digital royalties from its members not only in South Africa and the rest of Africa, but also globally.

The African continent has suffered broadly from concerns about alleged irregularities in the collection of royalties.

But collections are increasing. South Africa, the largest performing rights market in Africa, was among five countries in the world that passed the 50% threshold in 2017 for markets where more than half of total music revenues came from streaming. South Africa reported $51.4 million in recorded music revenues in 2018, up 12% from 2017, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

The partnership comes amid uncertainty about South African copyright law. South Africa’s parliament passed a Copyright Amendment Bill in 2018 that president Cyril Ramaphosa has yet to sign into law.

The bill intends to update the country’s laws for the digital era and help musicians earn more revenue. But it has been met with widespread criticism by members of the music industry, who are concerned about fair use exceptions and want it sent back and changed.

CAPASSO is part of an alliance calling for revisions to the bill, as the organization believes the law will “disadvantage the very creators [it] aims to protect.”

Muserk has trademarked a digital rights management system, MMatch®, which the company says “will help CAPASSO spread their wings and be a leader not only in new emerging markets like Africa but every market worldwide.”

CAPASSO has been administering South Africa’s mechanical music rights since 2014, after the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), founded in 1961, stopped doing so.

The National Organisation of Reproduction Rights (NORM), which represents South Africa’s publishers in mechanical rights administration, joined forces with SAMRO to establish CAPASSO, taking over its mechanical rights duties. SAMRO now solely administers performance rights.

The three organizations are South Africa’s major musical rights players, alongside the South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA), which handles Needletime royalties.