Piracy headache for SA musicians

DJ Zinhle.
DJ Zinhle.
Image: Via DJ ZInhle's Instagram

Digital music piracy has skyrocketed during the national lockdown - and DJ Zinhle, Kabza de Small, Joyous Celebration and DJ Maphorisa have felt it the most.

The latest report by Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa) has revealed the 10 songs most affected by illegal music download during the period.

There has also been a decline in the number of songs downloaded legally during this period.

Top of the list of music being pirated is 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.

Other tunes include You're The One by Elaine, Sad by Jethro Tait, Jerusalem by Master KG and Nomcebo, and The Box by Roddy Ricch.

"To chase away the lockdown blues that the country is going through, South Africans have turned to music for solace and companionship. Regrettably, this has resulted in an unfortunate and alarming increase of online music piracy," RiSA CEO Nhlanhla Sibisi said.

Award-winning group Joyous Celebration's new album Joyous 24 has been hit hard. Sibisi shared that material from the offering is being shared through a WhatsApp line to the public.

Sibisi urged South Africans to download music from legitimate platforms such as Vodacom My Muze, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, Tidal, Joox, Simfy Africa, Deezer and YouTube Music.

He added that music has become more affordable on these platforms in recent years.

"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," Sibisi said.

"The message has been sent out for many years, that piracy robs musicians out of what should be their hard-earned money."

The latest data shows that music that was downloaded legally has taken a dip during the lockdown. Before the lockdown, on average 8,170 songs per week were downloaded legally - that number had dropped to 7,221.

"We ask music lovers to support real talent. Musicians make a living from sales of their music and keeping piracy alive will only result in an impoverished music scene," Sibisi said.

"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," he said.

"There's very little authorities do about online music piracy. However, RiSA has a dedicated person who searches music piracy online and ensures that cease and desist letters are sent to infringing sites," Sibisi said.

Master KG said: "Well, piracy results in major loss of our revenue. In music there are too many people who need to get paid from the same song - the producers, composers, the mixing and mastering engineers, marketing - the list goes on.

All these professionals mentioned have to be paid from the creation of that one song. So, if a song is pirated it means none of them will get paid. It is really painful for your song to be all over if only a few paid for it. I think we don't have enough laws in our country to make sure that piracy is legislated, I'm hoping that one day we will be protected as artists."

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