Distributors Steal from Musicians

Under the headline of ‘Greedy and Exploitation in the Industry’ some two weeks ago, I started discussing how these elements are undermining our music industry in Malawi.
I ended up by discussing that the control of a musician over the distributor is only single lane. It is in as far as multi-copying or duplicating the master copy is concerned, where the musician holds on to the face covers or sleeves.
The logic line used is, if the artist say – takes 500 sleeves to the distributor then what it means is that from the master copy, only 500 copies are to be produced; which usually is not what the distributor does.
Now to the financial deal, if the financial agreement between the distributor and the artists is anything short of funny but piteous continuum, then the industry is urgently in-need of divine intervention to bring it to an eventual halt.
The unfairness ratio of the yield distribution can distinctively be viewed from this contradistinction of how much both sides contribute to the album development up to the time it reaches a sellable stage.
The distributor/marketer, copies the master copy using his copying machines. Perhaps the major contribution he feels justifies his shares is the provision of blank audio tapes, before putting the final product on the market.
Now without being very exact with the statistics I will depict how the musician becomes the victim of greed in music industry in Malawi.
Now, per the sale of each copy, the distributor gets 95% while the remainder is split into 3:2 ratio between the musician and Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) respectively. COSOMA’s existence begs answers on what its duties and use is as definition of piracy, one aspect it exists for goes without bringing to light in the industry.
Since gluttony rules supreme, the 95 % lion’s share the distributor gets seems far from being enough; and woe betide the world of technology for bringing to the world a sophisticated colour photocopier with it. The distributor finds solace in the machine and uses it to his gormandising advantage, but then to the detriment of the artists.
By way of making copies of the musicians’ ‘erstwhile protected’ album cover, the distributor now frees himself from the realms of a musician’s grip over the control of the sleeves and he is now at liberty to sell extra copies of the album and maintains the figure the artists knows, begging him to believe sells are bad.
Well if the distributor does not do it, there is also a third player waiting on the sidelines to pounce on the product and multiply it as much as he can and sell it to consumers, this is one is the worst because the musician does not get any penny from this shoddy deal.
The confusion of this horrible exploitation then faces its challenger in the name of such a particular album’s popularity and scattered presence in the households begging another answer from the question; “How did it get there if it is not selling?”
Do you now understand why Ian ‘Madende’ Lizi treks between Blantyre and Mzuzu via Zomba and Lilongwe selling his cassette and CD albums in the streets?
Next week I will discuss how one late Evison Matafale caught the distributors in the act of their evasiveness in the trading of music in Malawi.
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.com


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