Digital piracy can generally be defined as the unlawful and unauthorized copying and distribution of copyrighted music, movies, t.v programs, etc, in a manner that is detrimental to the creative artists and legitimate right holders. This practice threatens is very rampant in the Nigerian Blogosphere, and it limits the financial growth of all industry players, involved in the career of an artist. Movie piracy in Nigeria is almost currently limited to physical distribution methods, as sites offering free downloads of these movies are few, but with over 2000 blogs pirating music daily, digital piracy of music has to be looked into.
Industry players recognize this issue, and despite the fact that it is a huge problem, little or close to nothing is being done to curb this trend, and millions of naira, if not billions are lost yearly due to digital piracy, limiting the growth of the industry, and our artistes generally on the world stage.
This four part series, makes the case that digital piracy is a serious issue, with significant ramifications to the Nigerian Economy, and that a number of approaches albeit in the long run, can be taken to reduce this trend.
Our artistes generally complain about the act of some blogs, and online distribution channels, lifiting their legal content, and illegally posting such content on thier websites. This is the major form of digital music piracy in Nigeria, and it is increasing everyday. Due to the fact that these artistes do not recognize the available market online, they have failed to push through methods to reduce this acts aggressively, and have made the trend flourish.
In a recent survey carried out, it was found out that about 79% of 67 million Nigerian internet users download songs from the internet, and a whooping 92% of these downloaders do so regularly, with about 63% of these doing so everyday. Hundreds of thousands of songs are being downloaded everyday, and only a minute 7% is being downloaded legally. One can argue, that with only 7% of music listeners and fans buying music online, that there is no “market” online for the artistes to make use of, but the above stats just scream out “Huge Market Available”
There have been countless instances where artistes have released albums, and some music sites ripped and made this content free to fans in Nigeria, in a bid to generate traffic for thier websites. This practice has caused the reduction of the sales of these albums, both physically and digitally, and in recent times, online distribution is fast overtaking physical distribution and in the near future, physical distribution tools such as CDs, DVDs, etc will be phased out.
Artistes have spoken out againsts these, always making their feelings known through social media, but it usually ends there. One of the reasons digital piracy of music is so rampant, is because artistes have refused to regularly make use of the music stores available to sell their music, instead opting to release it free on music blthis . This practice stunts the growth of the “music purchasing culture of Nigerian fans”. Although some fans may ignore these free links to buy some of these songs, 93% do so freely, and I don’t blame them, because these songs have been made available free. This practice males the average music listener believe that it is a “Normal thing” to download these songs free, so when the artistes album comes out, the general practice is to look for, and download these works freely and illegally. This is killing the industry, and artistes may need to consider giving out free links to their music.
Many artistes may be scared to do this, fearing they may loses fans because of this, and their listeners may reduce, but this is untrue, because with millions of fans at their disposal, if they chose to make these contents available only on music stores, fans would be forced to buy these contents. According to Wana, an entertainment blogger, “this will cause an arm wrestle of some sorts, which the masses will eventually win” and for the time being, I’m inclined to believe this, but in the long run, artistes will be able to drive home their point that “Look, we can’t be giving freebies every time, sometimes you the fans need to buy and support our music”
Recently, Drake made more than a million dollars off sales from his mixtape within weeks of its release, from iTunes and other stores, and the argument of Drake being a worldwide music superstar as opposed to our Nigerian artistes in not tenable, because Nigeria is the leading music market in Africa, with our artistes known all over the continent. Although we cannot compare the fan bases of american artistes to their Nigerian counterparts, they are in a position to be able to make almost half of what these artistes make via song sales. Generally, I don’t think any Nigerian act has sold up to 500,000 units online, and although artistes usually claim the “1 million copies” sales mark immediately after releasing thier projects, this should be a laughable stat, because if in a potential market of 60 million music listeners, you are only able to sell 2 million copies(combining physical and online sales) then as a “superstar” you have failed woefully.
Artistes need to take decisive measures to curb this trend, and some of these measures I think can be taken are:
1. By only making available one minute snippets to their songs for free download. If after a minute of listening to a song, and the listener likes it, he or she may be forced to buy the complete version. This method solves the problem of making the song totally unavailable, and in a way serves as a marketing strategy for the song.
2. By making use of the available online stores that sell in THE LOCAL CURRENCY” to see their music. Although many artistes prefer iTunes and amazon, Nigerians won’t buy music from these stores, because they mostly sell in dollars, and with fluctuations in currency exchange rates, the prices of these songs increase and decrease on a weekly basis, however a store such as Spinlet sells its content, at a local fixed price and artistes should make use of this resource.
3. Working with COSON and other agencies to track down and remove their content from blogs that offer their copyrighted content for free downloads. This will reduce the availability of these contents, prompting fans to purchase their songs.
Artistes are the first set of people that can begin the revolution to stop digital piracy of thier art, and if they don’t have the courage to tackle this issue head on, we will suffer from this trend for a very long time, and artistes will never make enough from the sales of thier songs.