Money skills for artists

THE South African music industry contributes a significant amount of money to taxes.

THE South African music industry contributes a significant amount of money to taxes.

What is doubtful, though, is whether there is sufficient business skills in the industry.

Thankfully a leading university has now introduced a course in music publishing .

Developed in partnership with the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) the part-time course is titled Business Principles of Song Writing and Music Publishing.

Two- to three-hour lectures will be held in the evenings for 14 weeks . Prospective students who cannot make it in February can enrol for the course in July .

The course is for anyone working in or wishing to pursue a career in music publishing, administration and marketing or who is looking to broaden their knowledge of creating, selling and promoting songs.

It will benefit songwriters, aspirant independent music publishers and others seeking to enhance their understanding of some of the industry's complexities and technicalities such as music copyright laws, music publishing contracts, the financial and administrative aspects of the business, the promotion of musical works, the role of collective management organisations and essential life skills for people in the music industry.

Course facilitator Jonathan Shaw has been successfully running a related short course on music management and marketing through Wits Plus for the past five years.

He said he and Samro identified a need to further develop intellectual capital on the business side of the music industry - a specialised area that is neglected by most academic business qualifications.

"The aim of the course is to educate and empower young entrepreneurs, who are already in the industry or who want to get into the industry.

"We hope to provide encouragement to independent publishers and enable more local musicians to prosper.

"The South African music industry is still informal, to a degree. Many people don't understand the industry, its workings or its terms to the extent that they are comfortable enough to work in it. And many creators still tend to ignore the business side of their work.

"These courses will go a long way toward the formalisation of the industry, giving participants the tools to be able to network and be competitive."

A total of 25 applicants can be accommodated each semester. Samro is sponsoring five bursaries for their members or for people employed by the organisation's publisher members. These seats will be awarded at the discretion of Wits.

Top industry professionals will be brought in to conduct individual lectures in their respective areas of expertise.

"We are really excited about this course for aspirant music publishers," says Leon van Wyk, Samro's executive general manager: rights holder services.

"The partnership between Samro and an academic institution of the calibre of Wits is great for the music business and we encourage anyone who wants to make money from their songs to attend.

"We believe that this project adds value to the music industry and to our business and will equip aspirant music publishers with valuable knowledge and skills."

Classes will start at the Wits West Campus in Braamfontein, Johannesburg from February 17 at 6pm.