It is a fact that music piracy has bedeviled African art industry for decades; thanks to unregulated industry coupled with weak policies, the minute an artiste steps out of the Studio booth their music always finds its way to the black market where it is sold for peanuts.
Music CEO on a mission to put African music on the global map proposes 3 ways to deal with piracy
Over the years attempts have been made to reduce this vice to no avail, from establishment of copyright bodies to even formulating anti-piracy laws in parliaments.
The problem with this approach however is the nature of the Internet, which is a worldwide web and therefore a hard nut to crack or regulate.
The entrance of Mdundo.com, a music service tailored for the African market which aims to make local and international music available for Africa's 150 million Internet users hopes to battle this vice head on.
Martin Nielsen, the CEO at Mdundo Limited whose sole mission is to put African music on the global map believes African music industry have approached piracy from the wrong end from the word go.
“A lot of the music consumed in Africa is through piracy, what is important is to move people from doing illegal downloads to legal downloads, whether or not they are not paying for the legal downloads or not is secondary.” he said in their swanky offices located in Nairobi.
He suggests three ways on how to solve the issue of piracy once and for all.
#1. Provide a better alternative
Martin thinks most African music industry are so caught up in trying to regulate piracy to the point of forgetting there are better ways of dealing with the menace.
“I think if you put a solution into the market that is competitively better than what is out there, people will come to you, that is a lot better than going around and telling people don’t do illegal things like downloading music illegally” He said.
Martin points out this way more can be achieved than wasting scarce resources and time in curbing piracy.
“Everyone knows it awareness campaigns don’t normally work the same way”
#2. Legislation would never nip piracy in the bud
Martin states that as much as legislation sometimes is a noble idea especially in the case supporting copyright bodies, relying on it a hundred percent is however fool handy. More like a case of administering wrong medicine for the wrong ailment therefore its role should be secondary rather than primary.
“My learning from the west is legislating against it is not necessarily the right solution, I think legislation take years, implementation takes even longer, for Mdundo it’s about action we do it, we cannot wait for someone to come and tell us how to put our industry together" he states.
He adds that the best way is to provide fair solutions where the artistes can get a fair chunk of what is being made like the Mdundo way which compensates artistes depending on the number of downloads.
#3. Make music free
This is the ultimate solution for solving the piracy menace in Africa once and for all according to Martin. It is a fact that people like free things and therefore coming up with a way where ordinary folks can access free music and artistes can still be remunerated is the silver bullet for piracy.
“The biggest music service in the world, Spotify don’t charge anything, you can visit the site and listen to all the music you want for free. so if you can get everyone to use a legal service rather than an illegal service then you have 1 billion people In Africa listening to your music every month, that is the biggest task, getting people to pay for it is secondary”.
Martin finalizes by pointing out that African music industry should therefore follow suit.
“Basically what happened was everyone was using pirate bay and then all of a sudden this thing called spotify came out, it was free and easy to use but it was also legal, so it was actually a better solution than pirate bay and that is why people jumped, they didn’t jump because they were told to, they jumped because there was a better alternative to how one could listen to music and that is exactly what has to happen here as well” He said.
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