The Kiffness

Cape Town musician and parody artist David Scott aka The Kiffness. Image: Supplied

The Kiffness pens open letter to ‘proudly South African’ Woolworths

Woolworths says it is negotiating licence fees with the South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA).

The Kiffness

Cape Town musician and parody artist David Scott aka The Kiffness. Image: Supplied

Not one to hold his opinions on pertinent issues affecting the local music industry, The Kiffness musician Dave Scott has penned an open letter to the retail giant calling out their decision to stop playing local music in its stores. 

Woolworths and South African Music Performance Rights Association (Sampra) are embroiled in a pay dispute over licensing fees.

Sampra is a collective management organisation (CMO) that administers Needletime Rights on behalf of recording artists and record labels. It then pays out royalties to artists and record labels which it represents.

The Kiffness speaks out on Facebook

Scott published the letter on his Facebook page, which has an audience of more than 100 000 people.

In it, he says that he has supported Woolworths for years and was impressed by how the retailer had played the late Johnny Clegg’s music for a week after his passing.

“Every musician that played on those songs is entitled to music royalty, and it gives me comfort knowing that even though Johnny is no longer with us, his band members still have that extra bit of income to keep them going despite the fact that they might have less gigs. 

“Many musicians in South Africa rely on this passive income to support themselves and their families, and I always thought it was great that you could support artists in this way.

“Today, you’ve opted to use a system that offers royalty-free music which only enriches the European businessmen who run the music website. While you’re entitled to your own decisions, it seems counter-intuitive to your ethos,” said Scott. 

Woolworths response

It appears Woolworths got wind off Scott’s letter because shortly after it was published, the company responded and said it was dedicated to working with local artists. However, it was in the process of negotiating licence fees with its suppliers. 

“We love SA music, as our many partnerships over the years have shown. In fact, we are launching another exciting local music project with the Ndlovu Choir next week – watch this space.

“The confusion around the music we play in-store? We have always played SA music in our stores. Our suppliers have been negotiating with Sampra on our behalf regarding licence fees, and we are waiting for that to be resolved,” read the comment.

Read the full letter below: