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The Corporate Laboratory – SMM’s Ruins and The Untold Story of General Beltings

zwnews24 Editor

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The role of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in promoting and protecting the rights of shareholders of listed companies has oftentimes escaped public scrutiny thus permitting corporate absurdities such as the General Beltings Pty Limited transaction.

General Beltings is a listed company in Zimbabwe and in 2004, it was a subsidiary of SMM Holdings Private Limited (SMM), an entity which was wholly owned by SMM Holdings Limited (SMMH).

SMM on its own was registered and operating in terms of Zimbabwean laws. 

Even though SMM was a company operating in terms of the Companies Act, it is interesting and puzzling to grasp why a decree was promulgated allowing SMM’s shareholder and directors to be divested and deprived of the right to control and direct their company.

For example, an Administrator, Mr Gwaradzimba, was appointed by the then Minister of Justice, Chinamasa, to assume the control and management of SMM on 6 September 2004. 

This law not only offends the constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers but allowed the Minister of Justice to unilaterally and arbitrarily identify companies that he deemed in his sole discretion to be an associate of SMM to be targeted and victimized.

This was the fate of General Beltings which found itself under the control of an Administrator without following any due process of the law. 

Even though there are glaring and flagrant violations of corporate rights in the SMM and General Beltings saga, it boggles the mind to note that both in parliament and in the media, appropriate legal and constitutional questions pertaining to these economic maladies are not being raised.

A case in point is the key legal question on whether one company can be found guilty simply on account of perceived and not tested association. 

With respect to the constitutional muster, can a law that divests and deprives rights pass this test? 

It should not only be those with a keen eye and passion for entrepreneurship who see that that Zimbabwe ‘second dispensation is still legally and politically immoral since it does not allow people to appreciate the centrality of the rule of law in delivering the promise of prosperity. 

For example, the presumed purchase of shares held by the captured SMM is a calculated corporate heist which those that are responsible for protecting the rights of businesses and individuals can be found to be complicity in undermining the rule of law. 

This kind of vulture capitalism exposes the moral bankruptcy in the public when it comes to corporate matters and this in helps to hamper the development of the country since investors are a people with a keen interest on in subtle developments that have an impact of their money.

As such, if they witness corporate heists in a country, they become cautious and hesitant to invest and so under such circumstances, they tend to take their funds somewhere else where the rule of law abides and where investment has a greater probability of using good returns.

Under the Corporate Laboratory, we study and analyze corporate developments with a view to understand business circumstances and their impact to the economy and to the general public.

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Understand What The Top Revenue Streams Are In The Music Business

Israel Sebenzo

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Four Major Income Streams:

Performance Fees + Royalties

Publishing + Synchronization

Mechanical Royalties

Sheet Music

Purchased, streamed, covered, played on the radio, performed in public, heard on YouTube, sampled, sold as sheet music used as the soundtrack to a film, TV show, commercial, video game, or presentation.

Music publishing plays a large role in that equation, but it’s also one of the least understood aspects of the music industry.

These top four revenue makers in the music industry encompass a wide range of sub-topics, but it’s important you understand how you can make money from the three main sources.

Access doesn’t equal understanding; and just because an independent songwriter CAN make money from publishing these days doesn’t mean they know HOW to do it.

Performance Royalty

Every time a song is played on radio or an artist performs a song on television, there is a fee payable by the broadcaster to collection society. This fee is based on a percentage of their advertising income.

Live performances are currently affected with COVID-19. It’s now a digital world and time you jump in on YouTube, FB & Instagram Live getting the fans to your pages to stay relevant.

YouTube is the biggest bet, high time it is utilized to full potential.

Get as much people as you can to subscribe to your YouTube, the more you build your audience the more you can monetize.

Publishing

Here are some source of income available:

Physical Sales, Downloads, Streaming, Live performance, Television, Film, Advertising, Radio, Cover versions of writers’ song/s, Production Music, Print – (Physical & On-line)

Key Elements:

            (a) Registration

Ensure all your compositions copyrights with collection societies globally (ZIMURA, SAMRO, APRA etc.)

            (b) Exploitation

In Music Publishing “Exploitation” is a great word…

“Exploitation” in publishing means working to get your musical composition USED. Getting an artist to record your song or placing it in a broadcast media (known as synchronisation in TV/Film/ Advertising) is considered exploitation. If your publisher is not “exploiting” your works they aren’t doing their job!

Mechanical Royalties

Is the process of getting the songwriter paid from the collection of copyright/ royalties’ income globally both physical & digital formats?

You can think of a music-streaming service as a radio station that you can program by genre, artist or mood. That said, not all services are made equal.

Most offer you the ability to stream unlimited music, but some also have provisions for streaming via mobile, offline caching for listening without an internet connection and streaming to other devices through the home.

Every time a song you’ve written is manufactured to be sold in a physical form, downloaded on a digital music retail site, or streamed through services like Spotify, iTunes etc you are owed a mechanical royalty.

NB* Writing and recording original music can ensure you own both your master rights and your performance/mechanical rights, giving you the ability to publish and control your own works

Synchronization Royalties

To pair a licensed musical composition with audio visual images in a moving picture.

There are 3 Synch income streams from a composition/recording.

1. The Negotiated Fee to use the recording (master).

2. Negotiated fee for the composition (referred to as a Front-end Fee)

3. Performance royalty for its broadcast use. (Referred to as a Back-end Royalty)

NB: not applicable for TV & Radio commercials

Israel SEBENZO® is a Singer, Songwriter and Artist & Repertoire (A&R) Executive

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Business

Tips To Get In The Music Game

Israel Sebenzo

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Observe, Be Excellent and Master Your Craft

Whether singing, song writing, playing an instrument, or producing music, all musicians need to spend a considerable amount of time perfecting their talent.

Hire a talent coach, perform to build up experience with live shows, study those that came before you, experiment, get professional feedback and tons of practice.

This applies to everything you do! It all starts with the music you listen to. Sometimes, society can train us to lower our expectations by convincing us mediocrity is acceptable.

It is not. Excellence is at your fingertips; it simply needs to be understood and observed.

Study carefully from those who are successful in music and what they have done. Listen to everything, no matter what the genre, and try to see the beauty in everything that is music, despite your personal preferences.

The foundation you lay now with your acceptance and understanding of these basic essentials will define who you will be in your own music career.

Decide Your Message – “Give a voice to those who don’t perform”.

Having talent is great, but every musician needs to focus on their message and what they want to express to the world.

Making music is not just about skill, but also about feeling and freedom of expression. In order to build a fanbase and a following, your songs should connect to a specific audience and give a voice to those who don’t perform.

Talent will make you a good singer, but talent with a message will make you a great artist.

All musicians need to record their music and begin creating full songs. You don’t have to be a songwriter find the best producers to help and develop your sound or work with songwriters to create captivating songs.

Songs can make or break your career so deliver your best material to fully represent your vision and talent. In contrast; Good songs come from bad ones so keep writing…

Market and Promote Yourself

After making great songs, musicians must be involved with the marketing and promotion of their content. Technology has made it easier to create and distribute music. However, this also has created an oversaturation of music projects.

To combat that, it’s extremely important for you to be creative in how you promote yourself. You must be savvy in building your social media presence, take amazing photos that highlight your brand, interact with your followers, and so on.

While creating and performing your music, you also need to network to build a team.

Watch online networking events, music conferences, and go anywhere else where you can be creative and make business connections.

Network with music producers, find fellow musicians to collaborate with, and connect with a business manager. Music is a relationship business you’ve got to cease every opportunity if it is presented to you.

Believe In Yourself – Trust me, this will be tested!

Branding requires that your image and likeness your logos, who you are and what you represent are clear and aligned with similar products that aggrandize your musical mission.

Always remember why you want to be an artist and stay motivated. It can be a very rough business, but what’s worse is not pursuing your passion and giving up your dreams because of fear.

Be Optimistic at every turn. It’s the only true survival tool you have that you can control. If you start with undying optimism you will be more resistant against the neglect you may feel when first starting out.

Be Careful Who You Take Advice From

People often tend to seek advice from those who have been remarkably successful. It’s a natural human tendency to do so. But remember, the best advice always comes from those who have failed and are painfully aware of their mistakes.

Family and friends are great but they are often too biased to give proper guidance and advice when it comes to your music. Music professionals tend to give more constructive guidance and can set more realistic goals and expectations.

Israel SEBENZO® is a Singer, Songwriter and Artist & Repertoire (A&R) Executive

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Tips On Engaging A Manager In The Music Industry

Israel Sebenzo

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When is the right time to get a manager?

Because of the many different roles managers are mandated to serve to artists, there seems to be many misconceptions and questions around them.

How do you get one? What do they do? How do you know if they are a good manager? When signing a deal, how do you know if you are getting a good deal?

Hiring a manager is not a decision to be taken lightly, more so because signing a contract with one can tie you to that deal for several years and if it’s a bad deal, you are stuck with the bad deal.

It is extremely important to get a manager that has your best interests at heart.

As an artist however, it is even more important to develop your brand and craft first before setting out to get a manager.

I will be break down some crucial aspects that artists need to explore around getting management.

Are you ready for a manager?

The importance of the difference between being ready for a manager and wanting a manager cannot be overemphasized.

You know you are ready for a manager when you are now finding it hard to balance the business and the creation sides of music and when managers start headhunting you.

It is not advisable to go out looking for managers, the idea is for them to come to you and not the other way round.

Ideally, you want to have several management offers on the table and then go on to choose the one best for you.

If you are struggling with balancing the business side of music and however not getting any offers from managers, don’t go hiring the first manager you can find, get an admin assistant instead that will be responsible for responding to emails, pitching shows and taking care of the day to day activities.

Once you ascertain you are ready for a manager, there are details you should look for or be wary of in a manager. This will go a long way in scoring the best manager that will align with your brand, values and mission.

Get a manager that understands music

This goes without saying, but a music manager needs to understand how music as business works.

Most importantly, your manager must understand how music promotion works as it plays a big role in building your brand and cementing you in the industry.

This requires knowledge of the music industry. A pro manager should follow the latest trends in the industry, be aware of up and coming artists, and know how best to promote your music.

It is difficult to promote something when you know nothing about the industry. When interviewing a manager, make sure you ask plenty of questions. Test their knowledge to ensure they have a good sense of the music industry.

In part two (2) of Tips on Engaging a Manager in the Music Industry, I am going to touch on the following:

  1. Get a manager you trust and get along with
  2. Get a level-headed manager
  3. Get a manager willing to test the waters with you

Israel SEBENZO® is a Singer, Songwriter and Artist & Repertoire (A&R) Executive

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