In the last decade, the Nigerian entertainment industry, as an entity, has experienced very notable revolution as the delve into digitalization has made the world a global village. The revolution has affected its music arm more though. Lots of advantages and disadvantages has hit this arm more as it has partially turned its back on ‘analogous’ methods and edged more towards digital platforms.
Prior to the embrace of digitalization, production, marketing and sales of albums, and singles alike, were done in a more strenuous fashion. First, an artiste purchased a beat, went into a studio recording booth, recorded verses, then the producer did the mixing and then the song was burned into CDs. Then, a marketer was contacted and the CDs were passed on to distributors who took them to various retailers around the country. Before this is done, prices would have been fixed between the artiste(s), producer(s) and marketer(s). This method was quite lucrative when it was at its best.
However, as good things never last forever, the issue of CD piracy rolled in, like a tsunami on an island, and heavily cut the profits gotten from the sales. The “Man must chop” syndrome, with which the pirates operated, took a heavy toll on the artistes as huge losses were incurred. This made artistes and marketers disheartened as only a batch or two of the CDs were able to be sold before the pirates took over the production.
When the era of musical digitalization phased in, the artistes heaved sighs of relief hoping that the issue of piracy has been nipped in the bud. This was quite so until the blackhat community of the blogosphere, and global village at large, unleashed their whips on the digital world. Beats and verses were leaked, social media accounts were hacked and works stolen, to mention but a few. Then the issue of album leakage became the issue.
When artistes put up albums for purchase on digital platforms, it is usually leaked out before they can make the funds spent in the production. This has mostly affected top notch artistes such as M.I, Ice Prince Zamani, Orezi, Wande Coal, Runtown, to mention but a few and caused top artistes to cry out.
Recently, a top notch artiste Adekunle Gold released his debut album titled “GOLD”. Less than a day after its release for purchase on digital platforms, the album was seen on various blogs for free download. This disheartening act hit the artiste who went into a ranting rage on the Twitter social media platform. He asked various blogs to take down the album, to which some adhered while the rest remained adamant. The artiste even hinted that legal action was being taken against the involved blogs.
Opinions have been given and questions asked but at the end of the ramblings, statistics play a vital role in analysis.
There are over ten thousand blogs in Nigeria and more than half of them are centered in the Entertainment (Music) niche. Some of these blogs have more than one administrators. If we assume that five thousand put up the album for free and each have two or three administrators, are the funds available to hunt down over ten thousand people, scattered all over the world, because of a leaked album? I leave the answer to whoever feels like.
Free album download (which is not right except permission is given) drives massive traffic to the various blogs on which they are placed and gives the bloggers, who make their living off the blogs, revenues. So even if a thousand blackhat bloggers were arrested and prosecuted, it won’t stop the rest from indulging in the act, as it is their source of revenue. Musical giants such as M.I, Ice Prince Zamani, Wande Coal, e.t.c threatened hail and brimstone when the album leakage hit them but at the end of the day, the stories and threats died down.
Stringent solutions should be made to curb the losses and if one can give a suggestion, I would advice that total dependence on the digital or ‘analog’ platforms should be avoided. When releasing an album, it would be wise to release the hard copies a little earlier before the digital copies as it would help cut down the losses on both ends.
Another way to cut down digital piracy is to stop the disrespect and disregard of bloggers. Nowadays, even upcoming artistes go as far as insulting bloggers. In life, whatever one reaps is what he/she sowed. You don’t expect someone who you trampled on to consider you when injustice is being meted on you. Everyone can not be Linda Ikeji, Bella Naija, TooXclusive, NaijaLoaded, and other top blogs, but it doesn’t warrant disregarding and disrespecting the upcoming members of the blogosphere as they are actually the wings on which upcoming artistes soar to fame.
Article by Agwah Michael Sledge
(Founder, 247NewsUpdate Blog, Administrator, Naija Music Hub, Human Rights Activist, Social Critic, Political Analyst, Researcher and Entrepreneur)