One of the country’s leading music distributors, OG Issa, has finally rescinded his decision to close shop, a development that has been hailed by musicians.
The U-turn comes six months after he closed his music distribution shop in November last year, as reported by Sunday Times.
Among other products, OG Issa was producing audio cassettes which have a big market in rural areas, where the majority still use radio cassette players despite the relative spread of CD players.
Since the music distribution shop was closed in November last year, artists were dealt a heavy blow as they had lost a ready market for their music, with Lucius Banda, Lawrence Mbenjere, The Black Missionaries, Skeffa Chimoto, Anthony Makondetsa, Thocco Katimba and Moses Makawa leading the fray of artists who raised concerns that they had lost a ready market.
Salim Sattar, who runs Afri-Music Records for OG Issa, made the announcement in an interview on Wednesday.
“I have reopened the shop but with tough conditions against piracy. I would like to invite the artists to a round table discussion to give them my terms and see how we can work out a strategy to stamp out corruption. Defeating piracy requires collective efforts from police officers, musicians, Cosoma, the government and distributors. We need to work together to create a zero-piracy space in the music industry,” Sattar was quoted saying.
Sattar said he decided to close shop after being badly affected by piracy, adding that what was more frustrating was that Cosoma was not doing enough to contain piracy.
He said he had decided to reopen the shop because he wanted to promote artists in the country and help them the fruits of their talent.
“I realised there are a number of young artists with great talent that have released very appetizing albums but who have no support. I want to help these young artists blossom and put Malawi on the international map,” he said.
Sattar said he would continue buying music at K30 per cover as that was the price set by artists themselves through Muscians Association of Malawi (Mam).
He however, said he would only buy music from artists who would produce quality albums.
“This time, i have put in place strict conditions so that artists can improve the quality of their music productions and push the standards high. Before buying the music, i will do a market survey to evaluate how each and every artist is fairing,” Sattar said.
Meanwhile, artists have hailed OG Issa’s decision, with musician Lucius Banda saying the distributor’s absence created a market void.
“This is a very good development because it means artists will now have a ready market for their music. I can tell you that, in my case,I have earned literary nothing from selling CDs, yet my album Time was lauded as one of the best. The 3,000 CDs i put out on the market are still gathering dust because the music has already been pirated,” Banda said.
Banda agreed with Sattar that there was need for collective action in the battle against piracy.
“As artists, we are already planning to meet Satar next week. We want to map the way forward and come up with a mechanism that will create a win-win situation,” Banda said.
Banda also faulted the constitution for being toothless in the fight against piracy.
“We would like to appeal to parliamentarians to treat this matter seriously. They should not just want us during campaigns to help them woo fans with our music,” Banda said.
Mam President Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango said the news that OG Issa had changed heart was very exciting to musicians because it would mean a ready market for their music.
Mhango said Mam was ready to with other players stamp out piracy, revealing that the musicians’ body was mobilizing other stakeholders to brig culprits to book.
“OG Issa is a key player in music distribution. I also agree that to fight piracy, we need a collective front. We have been talking to appropriate authorities in government to speed up the process of amending laws that would hand down stiffer punishments to offenders,” Mhango said.
He said he would meet Sattar this Tuesday, saying he would use the opportunity to strategise against piracyFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :