Music Organisations in South Africa

music organisations in south africa
Image Credit: Music Industry Inside Out

As an Independent musician it is important to be affiliated with a number of music organisations in South Africa.

Well for one you have to understand the role of each organisation and how it can add value to your music career. And two, if you want to earn a living from music someone has to collect royalties on your behalf.

This blog post will take you through the different music organisations in South Africa that you need to be aware of. Some of you might know what I’m taking about so you can skip this post. But if you are in the dark continue reading to find out more. 


The Southern African Music Rights Organisation otherwise known as SAMRO has been in existence since 1961.

SAMRO administers and collects royalties on behalf their members, being composers, authors and music publishers. I mentioned the word “royalties” but I must state that there are different kinds of royalties and SAMRO collects what is known as performance rights royalties.

These royalties are derived from public performances. In other words let’s say your music is performed at live events, bars, restaurants, retail shops that means as an artist you would entitled to a performance rights royalty.

The owners of the mentioned establishments have to purchase a music license from SAMRO and then SAMRO would collect all the license fees and distributes all monies back to their members as royalties.

But you have to ensure that your music is registered on the SAMRO database. You can do so by applying for membership online as well as supplying what is known as notification of works. This is basically your catalogue and compositions. 


If you know SAMRO then most probably you might have heard of CAPASSO. Well if not, CAPASSO is an acronym for Composers, authors and Publishers Association.

Now Capasso’s role is to administer and collect mechanical rights royalties on behalf of the members namely composers and publishers.

You might be asking yourself “What is a mechanical royalty?” I have explained this so many times on previous blog posts but I’m only too happy to explain this again.

A mechanical royalty is paid to the composer or songwriter each music is reproduced. Still this might not make complete sense to you and so I’ll explain it like I would to a four year old. So pay attention.

Each time a record label manufacturers a CD, the songwriter has to be paid a mechanical royalty, whether the product is sold or not. Other ways to earn a mechanical royalty include digital downloads, ringtones and streams.

However, life becomes much easier as a musician if you have someone that can handle the administration side of things such as music publisher. Most reputable publishers are registered on the Capasso database and they would ensure that your work is submitted on a regular basis.


To be honest I wasn’t really aware of DALRO until recently.  Short for the Dramatic Arts and literary Rights Organization Limited, and a subsidiary of SAMRO and are responsible for providing licensing solutions to allow companies to use copyrighted protected words.


You can’t mention music organisations in South Africa and exclude Risa.

The Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa) is the official music body in the country. Almost any well-known recording label that you can think of is registered with RISA – and for a good reason.

This organization is in charge of putting together the annual SAMA’s (South African Music Awards) as well as the issuing of isrc codes.

Risa members are recording labels, music distributors, manufacturers as well as retail shops.


The Association of Independent record companies (Airco) as the name suggests is an association which was created for Independent labels in South Africa.

It’s not a must to register with airco as a member. But doing so has other benefits because they can connect you with other key bodies in the South African music industry.


SAMPRA sounds a bit like SAMRO right? But it’s not the same thing. The acronym is short for South African Music Performance Rights Association.

The organization is responsible for collecting needletime royalties on behalf of recording labels and recording artists. The key words here are “recording labels”, “recording artists”.

In this context a recording label is a company which owns the sound recordings. And a recording artist is classified as any anybody who contributes to a commercially released recorded performance.

That means a producer; session musician would be able to collect any needle time royalties (click on the link above to find out more regarding needletime rights).


So there you have it, I just explained to you the role of music organisations in South Africa. You might want to read further in order to gain more insight by clicking on all the links that I provided throughout the entire blog post.

Thank you for reading.

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