27 April 2012

Zimbabwe: Let's Stop Abusing Artistes' Works


If piracy was a good thing ultimately then no one would be crying foul.

Some have said piracy raises one's profile and presence, yes to some extent it does but can it sustain one's day-to-day challenges and give a sense of success and direction? The facts on the ground are that somehow we all have become intelligent thieves who don't see the implications of our actions on the artiste.

Do you remember a time on the Zimbabwean landscape when these guys were looked down upon by their families, communities and the general society.

Today even though things have changed in terms of appreciation they will continue to be branded as hopeless people (marombe) as they fail to justify their efforts.

Well, what can we do with all the gadgets available to transfer and exchange the work of artistes without being part of the transaction?

As it takes us time to comply with standards of the technology pacesetters it will remain a sad story for local artistes to make money from their sweat.

Yes, shows do assist but there are costs involved which the same artistes need to pay for.

Many times we have heard from decision makers, associations against piracy but it's sad to say nothing tangible has come up and so this week let's begin to share ideas and begin to seriously find ways of at least controlling this challenge.

If we can't completely eradicate it at least we can try and manage it and so here is one way I would suggest.

As musicians work with different people in the industry the need to create and formulate contracts, agreements or memorandum of understanding can be one way to protect the abuse and leakage of material.

Let's look at the studio.

Many times studio producers and engineers share artistes' material without the knowledge of the artistes.

They can even "burn" discs for their friends and so on. Even after the duplication they give away the music as a way to promote their studio or work.

The studio makes money from the rates they charge for their services and so at no time do they run losses in their business.

I think the material must not be shared without the artistes' consent.

The studio must not burn my music without my knowledge and approval.

Therefore, confidentiality and memoranda of understanding documents must be signed between the artiste and the studio in the case where artistes pay for the studio.

After recording request a back-up of your material which you will keep and use when necessary.

The studio must not remain with your music as this leaves loopholes of sharing the music freely disadvantaging the artiste.

Remember we want to control the abuse of our work and I think it's only right to create and formulate ways that bring people to accountability.

The artistes should be able to monitor and manage the use of their products by signing agreements with whoever and whenever necessary.

Even when you go to duplicate CDs make sure that an agreement is signed commissioning the number of CDs you want after that make sure that your material has not be saved for further use.

This whole initiative or idea is to try and control your material before the official release. At least the owner of the music must officially launch his works and sell a sizeable number to recover production costs and make a bit of money before other people begin to share it freely.

Well this is my idea, what's your take on it, what other ideas can we put in a basket and control this creature.

Remember let's do something about the situation than just talking about it. Till then stop and I mean let's stop piracy.

Richard Kohola is a music critic and development expert

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