Social media is a very interesting place. One of the platforms, WhatsApp, has a power which is at the same time good and bad. Thus, one can both be informed and misinformed by the mlutimedia content that runs millions of laps in cyberspace.Global communications are so instantaneous, people thousands of miles away from us can know what is happening in our backyards way before we know about it. But this is really not the gist of my column this week.
State of the Art by Admire Kudita
Is sharing caring?
In one of the groups I am in, a member requested a song by a certain gospel artiste. It was matter-of-factly done. I marvelled at the request upon reflection. I realised that people generally feel no compunction about this practice of sharing music files.They must wonder what harm they do to anyone by sharing the good news music. They struggle to see the crime of it all.
Intellectual property theft
This idea of sharing files was first mooted by one Shawn Fanning in the 2000s. Heading a bandit online company with file-sharing technology, he shook the then brick-and-mortar music business. He did not go far because the Goliath of the music industry shut him down. He was chased out of business together with his nefarious aims. But the idea would not go away as we have mentioned in this column in the past. Apple launched Itunes under Steve Job and the rest is history some 20 years later. Still, it is worth interrogating why the idea of file sharing was initially a bad idea. The idea was based on a violation of one of the fundamental tenets around which Western enterprise is based: the idea of private ownership of property. In this case it was intellectual property which ran the risk of being taken at will without compensation.The US courts delivered Napster’s death blow.
Just won’t fly
The idea of using someone’s intellectual property without permission runs counter to the business model of Microsoft and Apple itself. They have made billions of dollars out of their ideas and business models. Hell may have to freeze over before someone succeeds in flagrant violations of their copyrights. And their government will do all in their power to help these corporations assert their rights… Once an invention is copyrighted and patented, the owner has certian vested rights which must be respected and safeguarded.
There are laws against intellectual property theft. Often, because the goods and services are intangible, somebody may be tempted to think they can exchange these freely without payment. This is just wrong and unlawful.
Creatives by virtue of the nature of their work are the most susceptible to intellectual property theft. It seems, in Zimbabwe we have a flagrant abuse of the rights of creatives. Film makers, authors and musicians are in a quandary. The works of artistes are used without any reward by a seemingly thankless society that takes its artistes for granted. Hence, one finds that politicians cynically use politicans with scant payment. Sometimes it is just a bun and a Coke. Why do artistes allow this desperation? A few years ago, an artiste who should know better was paid a plate of sadza alongside his musicians. Well, that is the urban legend and perhaps more anecdotal than ‘strictly’ factual. You get my point. Musicians are between a hard place and a rock.
‘The gospel is free’
Yes, the gospel is free but studio time is not! Gospel musicians must pay their way in the studio and no one gives them free time simply because their music carries the good news. They really must pay to be recorded in the studios and for the whole process of promoting and distributing the finished work. Designers, videographers and others all have to be paid. Somehow, some church folk, if not most, seem to believe that musicians who sing about Jesus really do not need to be paid. Yet the pastors and prophets who preach do need to be paid. How so?
The entire word
The Bible is thankfully not locked up in the cloisters of monks. When you read it carefully you notice that if we must worship, we need not only priests but also musicians.
Ideally, and on principle, there should be temple also musicians of the ilk of Jeduthun, Asaph and Heman (who were King David’s Levitical order ministers of music). I see the equivalence between a dedicated temple music musician and a full-time pastor. Both should and must be consecrated for divine service. Somehow this is not the case. I have seen committed musicians leave the church to play for ‘worldly’ bands and secular music circles. I believe the church is guilty of the travesty of not financially acknowledging the work of musicians by paying them a decent living wage. My argument is that if they are full time, then they must be put on the wage bill alongside the pastors. Why not?
I believe that the likes of Whitney Houston, who were well meaning church-raised girls, realised their talent could not be rewarded inside the temple. Perhaps they loved the world too much.But I do know that the Christian church is schirzophrenic in its regard for musicians. They love to judge them. And steal from them (sharing music files/songs).
One thing they do not love to do is pay them a just reward. I do not believe that the church should shirk the responsibility to do right by the musicians. Stop sharing the music. Buy the music. It is easier now with services such as Teletunes and Buddie Beats. You all have mobile money services on your phone. What is the reason for this theft? Hypocrites.