In an ever-changing, highly challenging scenario, current NORM Chairman, Robbie Kallenbach, is upbeat about the organisation’s position in the South African music industry.
“The organisation had such humble beginnings. I remember standing on a street corner, in the middle of Johannesburg, with Kevin O’Hara, who was dictating a letter to a secretary who had just been employed! If you think of how NORM started, and where we are now, it is indication of the strength of the organisation, its integrity and status in the industry.
“We have agreements with the record industry, we have agreements with all three broadcasters, and major ringtone providers. It’s not only a case of negotiating the agreements, it’s about implementing and distributing the revenue that flows from them. We have skilled and knowledgeable people drawn from our board members, undertaking the negotiations and bringing their understanding of the terrain to these negotiations. We have conscientious and hardworking staff to execute the functions of a mechanical organisation.” Kallenbach’s stresses, however, that one of the key elements enabling NORM to become the powerful force it is, is the integrity that runs throughout the organisation. “We have absolute transparency – it’s the way we operate. Yes the Board is elected each year, but we frequently invite individuals who are not Board members to our monthly meetings, to observe what we do and how we implement our duties.”
Adds Kallenbach: “At some stage we must be considered as the recognised South African mechanical organisation that users of music come to first – and we are getting closer to that goal. The emphasis in the second half of 2004 is about reaching out to music users, beyond the broadcasters. Production houses, recording studios, and those involved in OCW (outside customer work) are just some of the users of music we are now reaching.” Kallenbach reports that NORM is looking at ways of speeding up distribution to members – “because the most important duty is the distribution of funds to our members.” Finally, moves are underway on the international front to make contact with counterpart organisations inother territories around the world. “ It’s been a hard road but I am sure that if we continue as we have been, we will go from st rength to strength. The basis of everything we do is rewarding our composers and that makes being involved in NORM more than worthwhile.”