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No amount of legislation can stop piracy

28 May 2017 at 08:37hrs | Views
IN all articles that I write, the term ICT is always in the middle of the action. Just to make sure that I do not lose my readers, I will summarise what the term means in a few lines. ICT - Information and Communication Technology is a generic term used to express the convergence of telecommunications, information, broadcasting and communications.

ICT is seen as a set of activities, which facilitate and enhance the processing, transmission and dissemination of information by electronic means.

This explanation is useful so that people do not lose focus on the direct relationship between ICT and creativity, ease of doing business and development. I have used music and media as examples since I can relate to them easily.

It is very difficult to ignore that the music industry is not what it was a decade ago, let alone a few years ago. Experts agree that the music industry in its traditional form is dying. The shift towards digital has caused a slump in physical record/CD sales.

This is a sad development to our local musicians who are still stuck in ‘Stone Age' where the main source of the revenue was in physical formats. I do not understand why musicians have not seen the winds of change as music players moved from polyvinyl records to tapes via CDs now memory cards. Change is the only thing that does not change.

They can scream as loud as they can about music piracy but that would be like shouting at the moon. Digital technology is extremely disruptive. Trying to resist it is like someone trying to swim upstream against a flooded Limpopo River.

Ask the postman with his red bicycle and his postage stamps. Where is he today? Who ever thought that electronic mail (e-mail) and text messaging (SMS) would replace letter writing?

The same fate will visit our talented musicians and artists who are in the entertainment industry if they fail to embrace technology as a tool to enhance and promote their work. Technology is not there to replace music production. It is here to make music production, manipulation, distribution and sharing easier.

It is either they adjust or collapse it is that simple. You do not win a war against technology. No amount of legislation can stop piracy. What piracy? People access music on line from anonymous websites owned by faceless, nameless and "location-less" identities. Save your energy in trying to fight a losing war.

This debate would have been irrelevant decades ago during the era when Lovemore Majaivana, Soul Brothers, Bundu Boys and others ruled the roost.

Their vinyl records LPs or singles could only be bought from an authorised dealer. Copying them was not an easy task and not worth it.

These guys were assured of revenue if they played good music. Enter the cassette. More or less the same scenario copying them was not easy since the copying equipment was expensive. Enter CD and the personal computer. The music industry actually went through a digital transition when Philips released the CD-DA. CD-DA provided more storage capabilities, enhanced fidelity and durability than the Long Playing (LP) records.

In 1993, a new audio format called MP3 was introduced. MP3 allowed digital music to be stored 11 times smaller than a music file stored in CD format with precise reproductions in music quality. Soon enough, MP3 became the most popular digital playback music in the music industry. CD sales took a nose dive. People were put out of work over night. Such is technology.

Some people celebrated while others mourned. This was a great leap in technology that affected all industries and sectors from health through education, manufacturing right up to telecoms. Now if everyone else was quick and swift to adapt to the new reality one wonders what most musicians and other performing artists were thinking at the time. They imagine a scenario where the law would protect them from technology. That is now history, I am certain that they now know that the digital era is here to stay and it has more opportunities than threats.

The good news, however, goes something like this. The larger portion of the population in Zimbabwe is under 30. This inherently means that in the next decade or so we will have more technology appreciative citizens than we do have now. This is just a reality. Most people aged above 50 today border on being technophobic.

This is normal and expected. These are people who were used to writing letters and not texting messages during their hey days. The present crop of youth is tech savvy. They navigate around any smartphone with ease. This is the generation that will form the core of tomorrow's clients.

This is a generation that will all have smartphone and will be hooked on super fast data connections. Yes 5G if not 6G a decade from today. Today's musician or performing artist must start positioning herself for the inevitable.

Having an online presence will no longer be an optional extra but a lifeline. In the past it was very expensive to record a sample video for auditions. This had a negative effect as most talented artists went unnoticed.

Raw and fresh talent from the ghetto, nkomponi or the salalaz was not tapped maximally. Today I can point my cheap Samsung phone and record a two minute video to promote my work via Whatsapp, Facebook or Youtube. Yes I know you have to buy data bundles, there is no such thing as free lunch if you are serious about monetising your talent.

Facebook of late has an industry shaking technology known as Facebook Live. This tool or feature is massive and a very serious threat to many establishments. You can record your live performance from Amakhosi Theatre and share it in real time online with other users. Moreso those who missed your "show" can always access the video anytime afterwards as it is stored in your Facebook page.

To be continued next week.


Source - Robert Ndlovu
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