Increase in music piracy during lockdown 'hurting artists in the pocket'
Johannesburg - Pirating music and supporting unscrupulous sources have been slammed as theft that hurts artists.
This was the message from the Recording Industry of SA (Risa) as piracy increased during this lockdown period.
“Our records show the most popular infringements are on some of the biggest hits in South Africa right now; leading the pack are eMcimbini by Kabza de Small; Love Letter by Blaq Diamond; Tender Love by Sha Sha featuring DJ Maphorisa; Umlilo by DJ Zinhle; and Love You Tonight by MFR Souls. Also targeted are You’re The One by Elaine; SAD by Jethro Tait; Jerusalem by Master KG and Nomcebo; and The Box by Roddy Ricch,” Risa said.
Gospel ensemble Joyous Celebrations had been feeling the setbacks of the coronavirus, having already had to postpone their Easter shows.
“It's terrible. The company we are working with, Sony, is looking into dealing with piracy. On our side the only income we make is through the shows. So if there is piracy with the music that we sell, then it means that stream of income is also affected in a big way.
"I can't even talk about the effects of the postponement of shows. It means business is shut down. So we are hoping that the lockdown will be lifted,” Joyous Celebrations’ co-founder Jabu Hlongwane said.
He added that for now they were making sure their presence was felt on social media platforms and the internet.
However, they have been one of the hardest hit. The award-winning ensemble's latest offering, Joyous 24, had been heavily pirated and songs were being shared on a WhatsApp line that publicly asked music lovers to text so they could receive the music.
The ensemble has released two albums – Praise and Worship.
“They're out there, and one of the challenges is that a lot of South Africans believe in the physical album, but they can't access that because everything is shut down. We are depending on the little we can make through the internet and social media, and that space is being pirated, so this is a double blow for us,” Hlongwane said.
He added that as much as streaming was an option, the use of data was the problem.
“When you talk streaming you're talking data. If I buy a physical copy, I am spending R100 once off, for instance, and I don't need data to play that CD. It's an overall problem of expensive data in South Africa. Streaming is for a chosen few and our people are ordinary people who don't always have data.”
Risa statistics have shown that songs that were legally downloaded the most in the period preceding the lockdown (a mean average of 8 170 songs per week, using a list of top 40 high priority titles) have taken a knock (down to 7 221).
“This is our desperate plea to the music-loving public, to refrain from piracy and do the right thing by accessing music from legitimate sources. The message has been sent out for many years, that piracy robs musicians out of what should be their hard-earned money,” said the body's chief executive, Nhlanhla Sibisi.
Hlongwane said their business was on hold and they were thinking of many other ways of doing business with the "new normal".
“We have not come up with anything new in terms of making money, not only for us as a business but for all the people who depend on us. We have more than 60 people who are affected,” Hlongwane said.
Sibisi said they were pleading with the public to support local talent.
“Musicians make a living from sales of their music, and keeping piracy alive will only result in an impoverished music scene. We understand that the current lockdown in the country has left many in need of entertainment, but let's support our artists the right way and not commit a criminal offence.”
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