SAMRO boss Sipho Dlamini steps down

After nearly three years at the helm of one of Africa’s leading copyright administration organisations, the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), CEO Sipho Dlamini will be stepping down at the end of March 2016 to pursue other business interests.

Outgoing SAMRO CEO Sipho Dlamini.
Outgoing SAMRO CEO Sipho Dlamini.

Reverend Abe Sibiya, Chairperson of the SAMRO Board, has been appointed by the board to act as interim CEO, for the hand-over period effective from Monday 22 February 2016. Deputy Board Chair Sibongile Khumalo will take the reins as chairperson during the transitional period until a new chief executive is appointed.

Dlamini joined SAMRO at the beginning of 2012 as General Manager: Marketing and Business Development following an illustrious career in international live event production, artist management and the record industry. He was promoted to Deputy CEO at the beginning of 2013 and was appointed CEO in July that year. In that capacity, Dlamini was an active member of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), sitting on its Board of Directors as well as its Executive Governance Committee.

During his time at SAMRO, Dlamini presided over SAMRO’s difficult but successful conversion to a non-profit company without negatively impacting on either members or employees. At a time of economic difficulty and radical changes in the way people consume music, under his watch SAMRO increased its revenue collection from licensees (and therefore its music royalty distributions to members), improved its member benefits (such as funeral cover) and brought down its cost-to-income ratio.

The collecting society also made some much-needed improvements to its information technology infrastructure, moving to a new portal system that enables SAMRO members to manage their accounts and notify their works online. At the same time, it has improved members’ access to SAMRO by establishing contact centres across the country.

“Having been closely involved in the record industry myself, one of the highlights of my time at SAMRO has been the resolution of the long-running Needletime rights impasse,” said Dlamini. “Thanks to an agreement being reached, recording artists and session musicians who were members of our subsidiary POSA [the Performers’ Organisation of South Africa] were finally able to access millions of rands in unpaid royalties for the public performance of their recorded works.”

Big shoes to fill

“Sipho has been a revelation and a great find for SAMRO,” said Sibiya. “His hunger to win, his strategic focus and his keen interest in innovation, as well as the importance of building strong relationships, has been part of the mix in him leading SAMRO to various breakthroughs during his tenure. 

“However, it was evident that such talent wasn’t going to dance on just one stage for a long time. Having said that, his inspired leadership will remain with SAMRO for posterity,” added Sibiya. “I am confident South Africa will soon be hearing more from this man, especially in the world of business, for which he is ideally equipped.” 

Dlamini said he is sad to be leaving SAMRO, but believes the organisation rests on a solid bedrock and is being left in capable hands. “I have full confidence that Rev Abe Sibiya will continue to fly the flag for our music creators to receive fair remuneration for their hard-forged intellectual property. Under his stewardship, I have no doubt that SAMRO will continue to thrive.”

Sibiya, an ordained priest, has been in the local entertainment industry for more than 25 years. A decorated composer, publishing executive and media entrepreneur, he was instrumental in setting up two television channels (including ONE Gospel) and a commercial radio station.

“I am humbled to have the opportunity to add value to an organisation that I have grown to love as a composer member, Chairperson of the Board and now acting CEO,” said Sibiya. “The first order of business will be to begin the process of searching for a new chief executive to be appointed by the board, who will continue to lead the organisation. I will also study the internal workings, interrogate historic assumptions, go through the current strategy and check on the efficacy of implementation. I have always admired Sipho’s focus on building a high-performance organisation, and will be looking to continue that.” 

Sibiya intends to focus on strategy and on maintaining local and international relationships, to “create a vibrant, transformed, dynamic and successful organisation that continues to innovate. Ultimately, money must flow to our hard-working members – composers and publishers.” 

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