Christmas came early for some artists after receiving a payout from the Independent Music Performance Rights Association (Impra) – a collecting society for musicians.
Rapper Kiernan “AKA” Forbes, Sello “Chicco” Twala, Mzwakhe Mbuli, Babsy Mlangeni, William Mthethwa, Freddie Gwala, Blondie Makhene, Papa Makhene, Sizwe Zakho, Bheki and his wife Linah Ngcobo, and the late Jabu Khanyile were announced as the top 12 beneficiaries of the needle time or airplay royalties in Johannesburg on Friday.
The payment was for songs played across all 18 SABC radio stations between 2014 and 2015 only.
It was announced in June that the SABC had discharged millions to Impra to pay needle time or airplay royalties to the songwriters and performing artists.
This is the first time musicians received their needle time royalties – thanks to Impra.
AKA, who was the youngest artist in the room, challenged Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa to come up with programmes that would help artists to save money and not die as paupers.
Mthethwa said these legends had been in the industry for many years, yet they had nothing to show for it.
He said it was important that the collecting societies did not rob artists of their money “because when they do that it is a criminal offence”.
“We are going to introduce a tribunal that will handle artists’ disputes and matters related to copyrights and other things that affect artists. The tribunal will be permanent and it will have no less than seven judges,” Mthethwa said.
Although the amount of money paid to the artists was not disclosed at the media briefing, all the artists agreed that their “lives would not be the same again”.
Khanyile’s wife, Khululiwe, who accepted a mock cheque on behalf of her late husband, said she was smiling for the first time since his death in 2006.
“Life hasn’t been easy since my husband passed away. Even though he left eight hit albums, no money showed in my bank account. I was struggling financially and this is the first time I have received a royalties pay cheque.
“My house was almost repossessed because of defaulting bond instalments. With the money I have received from Impra, I am going to make sure I pay the money that I owe to the bank. My life will not be the same again,” said the emotional mother of five.
Artists had the opportunity to engage with the minister to tackle challenges they face in the industry.
Payola and piracy were two burning issues the artists highlighted.