There’s been debate on social media about why free music downloads should be eradicated totally in Nigeria. I read different sentiments on free music download and music purchase, guess what?
Majority of Nigerians on social media are hypocrites who know the right things to do, preach the right things, but will never do them. A lot of music pundits contributed to the discussion; some said it is illegal to download music for free after all the efforts musicians put in to make music, while some disagreed and simply ignored the illegality involved in free music downloads with a wave of the hand.
What is illegal music downloading? Illegal music downloading is simply going to the internet to download songs that are copyrighted without the permission of the copyright owners, also, sharing copyrighted music through blogs, social media, and other online platforms without securing the right(s) to do so. In fact, sharing a song you bought with another person and having it on your device at the same time is illegal.
However, what is the percentage of Nigerian musicians that copyright their songs? Illegal music download is bad, but the system that operates in the Nigerian music industry permits illegal downloads online because there’s no Nigerian company that goes after those sharing music illegally for free downloads.
All of our popular artistes are product of free/illegal music download, who will know Olamide, Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Naira Marley, Zlatan Ibile, Reminisce, M.I Abaga, Wande Coal, Slimcase and others, if they didn’t put their songs up for free? Some of these musicians go to the length of paying street DJs to include their songs in their mixtapes, they pay blogs to publish their songs for free download under the guise of ‘promotion’.
Although, there are some Digital Stores like MTN Music Plus, Cloud9, iTunes, Amazon, and others where musicians can put their songs up for sale and share the links with their fans for purchase. Truth be told, many Nigerians don’t visit these stores to make purchase, they’ll prefer to wait for the music blogs to share the songs for their free consumption.
Considering the price most of these stores sell their songs, ranging from N50 to N365 per song depending on the store you’re buying from, these prices are relatively cheap to the eyes, but the reality of what is happening in Nigeria, N50 is a huge money for most people at the grassroots (low class) of a country that has become the poverty capital of the world, even some middle class Nigerians will not buy a song for N50 because the culture of paying for music is not in them.
For upcoming artistes who barely have a hundred fan base without much funding for their career, is it a wise thing to depend solely on Digital Stores as a way of getting their songs to new audience? Some Nigerian artistes put their songs on Digital stores for those who have the capacity to purchase and still put them out for free downloads for people who want to download for free, so as to get more listeners and attention.
If an artiste’s music cannot reach those at the grass root, in Nigeria, such artiste has not made it in his career. You have blown when both the poor and the rich can access your song and pick genuine interest in you. Even event organisers calling musicians for shows and companies giving out endorsements want musicians that can pull crowd for them.
Music purchases and online music streaming earn artistes a lot of money in foreign countries, the fact that Americans and Europeans buy music is why it is believed that it can work in Nigeria, but the truth is, Nigeria’s music problems cannot be solved by America or Europe’s music solutions – the solutions are made for them not Nigeria.
Things would have been different if illegal music download is being treated as a criminal offence that it is in Nigeria, people who cannot buy music, will go for transistor radios or any type of stereo to listen to songs via radio stations.
Until Nigeria establishes the proper agencies that will go after illegal music downloading portals, prosecute, jail or fine anyone caught in the act, this menace of illegal music download that has eaten deep into our system will keep flourishing in Nigeria.