Greedy and Exploitation in the Industry


Music is supposed to be the most sellable commodity in Malawi. However, the seemingly persistent poverty, striking the artists – creating and making this music – can rightly be comparable to penury of a mouse that dwells in the local village church.
Distributors and marketer are the only beneficiaries in the industry, reaping Gold and making themselves ‘stinkingly’ rich and riding high with success of the others.
Fortunately or unfortunately the distribution and marketing part, is solely controlled by the ‘greedy’ Asian businessmen who not only have they not left the industry to be untrammelled for it to justly flourish; but they also have heavily affected it by disgracefully spewing exploitation germs into the industry.
While the artists raise no alarm, one may ask why? Employment in Malawi is hard to come by. The job market expurgates a larger rate than it is supposed to take aboard. Youth from colleges found themselves roaming in the streets, as Malawi’s pocket like employment holdall has no space for them.
Result: those ones who feel can sing just leapt into the musical bandwagon. Studio owners did the juggling, either on some ‘termed’ credit conditions or when the supposed singer stumbled into a sponsor.
If the music struck a chord of luck and managed to sell the little the supposed singer gets gives him or her, a sigh of ‘half loaf is better than loaf’ relief.
Therefore, being ripped off by the Asian distributors, to the presumptive singer is lesser evil than facing penury devils in the streets, thereby giving this Asian a roller coaster ride of fortune.
Amidst, this frantic ‘greed littered’ music industry, Malawi has managed to produce talent that has transcended borders and the popularity of her musicians outside Malawi – though without a basis of justification – speak volumes of what a miscalculation a marketing personnel’s sells projections can be.
Piteously though, musicians and the industry as a whole do not know what it means when one say, “This track was released on Beckett Records’ for example.
They do not know what it means when you talk of a label, a music label. It is totally Greek to them when you talk of signing musical contract with ‘RAS’ or ‘MCA’.
As a result, the bottom line is that Malawian music goes into foreign lands by ‘God Forbidden’ means of piracy. Much of muchness as Jamaican or world reggae floods Malawi’s local music market. Damn the quality and stuff, any copy is copied, covers photocopied and stuck with Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA)’s seals of benevolence.
Now look at how music industry is done in Malawi. A musician makes a ‘demo’ and goes with it to a studio owner who samples it and makes a decision.
If it passes the values of his satisfaction, he arranges for a recording deal with the musician depending upon whom and how many are on the waiting list. Be it on credit terms, which is a rarity or by sponsorship, the studio goes into gear and records a single or an album for the musician who then emerges with a master copy.
This, however, does not even mean the job is halfway done. Out of the studio, the musician now gets back into the folds of the street, armed with his master copy, this time round not troubling the miserable job market, but looking for a distributor who usually is also the guy to market the final product.
This area also depends on the taste of the distributor though. For if he is not happy with the products, then he won’t take the master copy, meaning it rots right on the lap of the musician. But in the event that the master copy has won the heart of the distributor cum marketing personnel, the artists has to now process cover designs and its printing in readiness of the would be album.
Now his only helpless control over the distributor, in as far as multi-copying or duplicating the master copy is concerned, lays in the face covers or sleeves.

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