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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

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."