News / Arts & Entertainment

Piracy Forces Malawi Artists into Streets to Sell Their Own Music

Thocco Katimba, a gospel artist who sells his own music. (Photo courtesy of Thocco Katimba)
Thocco Katimba, a gospel artist who sells his own music. (Photo courtesy of Thocco Katimba)
Lameck Masina
— In reaction to the growing problem of music piracy, more and more local musicians in Malawi are taking their products directly to the street to cut out the middle man. City authorities, however, are expressing concern about noise pollution as the musicians use loudspeakers to advertise. 
 
Despite massive airplay and growing popularity for local music on the country's radio stations and in the clubs, life has not been that rosy for the musicians.  Most of them have been living far below their fame.

“The main problem here in Malawi is piracy. Honestly, it has been a very tough journey for us, the musicians, because one may come up with a very good album, you will find that it’s almost everywhere in the country and the neighboring countries, but if you look at yourself what you have achieved by doing that, you will find that it’s literally nothing,” said Thocco Katimb, a local musician.

Fingers have long been pointed at music distributors - middle men who sell the music on behalf of the artists. The musicians accuse the distributors of making copies for personal gain, an allegation distributors have persistently denied.

Despite the denials, many musicians, including gospel artist Katimba, have cut ties with the distributors and are going into the street to sell their own music. Another artist who has done so is Lloyd Phiri.

“Basically I would say that I have sold 17,000 CDs from the new album. Whilst previously I was selling like 2,000 copies per album and I was not getting the monies in cash. It’s like these vendors were making more copies for themselves so if I go to them they would say, ‘ah no, come tomorrow, bra, bra, bra.’ This time… we are making money,” said Phiri.

Officials of the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) say musicians who are selling their own music risk being prosecuted and fined because they do not put copyright sticker holograms on their products, which COSOMA claims is contrary to the 1989 Copyright Act.

“The law says each work that goes to the market shall have an adhesive label. It shall be an infringement of copyright where the manufacturer exhibits or sells without an adhesive label,” said Rosario Kamanga, the senior licensing officer for COSOMA.

Kamanga also cautions artists that selling music without the hologram brings the risk of being denied help or protection from COSOMA if their music is pirated, as they will have no basis of substantiating their claim.

Phiri thinks the warning is overblown.

“They want money, simple. Because if they put their hologram on our music, it’s like we are telling them to go out and protect our music but basically I haven’t enjoyed their services to be honest. So what they are doing now is that they are stranded. They were getting money when we go buy their holograms,” said Phiri.

Meanwhile, city authorities are accusing the musicians of violating legislation on noise pollution by using loudspeakers along city streets to sell their music.

This follows complaints from some business operators about what they say is the ‘irritating noise’ the musicians make.
 
Sylvester Matini-Nkhoma, the director of leisure, culture and environmental services for the Blantyre City Council, says action is forthcoming.

“The bylaws governing pollution in the city of Blantyre say that we are not supposed to produce noise in public places unless permission is granted by the Blantyre City Council. And as such we are aware of such practice, so we will be taking them to task and discuss with them to find a common ground,” said Matini-Nkhoma.

Critics say the city authorities are likely to lose the battle on noise pollution as the bylaws do not specify sound level limits for various areas.

Matini-Nkhoma also told VOA of a major challenge: the city council does not have equipment to measure sound levels. This, he said, will likely affect the enforcement of the bylaws on noise pollution.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."