Malawi’s creative industries such as poetry, music and film are faced with distribution and marketing challenges because, currently, there is no proper distribution system. Most creators use service station shops or public address (PA) system which is popularly known as ‘Gwaladi style’ to sell their products.
Previously, O.G Issa used to distribute the products. Our reporter HOWARD MLOZI engages Ezaius Mkandawire who is chairing the production and marketing cooperative at Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) on the way forward:
Q: What is the production and marketing cooperative?
A: Well, the production and marketing cooperative is one of the components within the integrated arts development programme, which government and partners are implementing through Cosoma to promote the development of arts and culture in the country. The cooperative will start its operations in two months time.
Q: Why does Malawi need a cooperative of this nature?
A: To be honest with you, the current state of production and marketing of artistic products in the country is chaotic. Issues such as piracy, quality of art products as well as distribution system leave a lot to be desired. You will also agree with me that piracy is one of the serious challenges facing the country’s creative industries. For example, today, there are rarely music shops that are selling and distributing original copies of music. Even the quality of the products is not up to the required standards that can withstand competetition on the globe platform. As result, this prevents the progress of Malawian products both on the local and international market.
Therefore, the production and marketing cooperative is responsible for answering questions which have been haunting artists for a long time.
There are also scenarios whereby artists’ works are illegally pirated before they hit the market. So, this cooperative will be looking into such issues by controlling the malpractices by putting distribution networks in place. What we want to see at the end of the day is to all art products being marketed and distributed at one place.
Q: Malawi had one big music distributor, O.G Issa. How do you intend to fit his cap?
A: The production and marketing cooperative is bigger and optimistically it will surpass the role of O.G Issa as far as music marketing and distribution is concerned. We are kind of replicating that but on a larger scale because we are striving to create an environment whereby artists will be able to generate more money from their products. In addition to that, the cooperative will accommodate all kinds of arts works ranging from film to poetry, music and books.
Among other strategies is to recruit a marketing and business executive who will oversee the system and run it as a company.
Q: How are you going to reverse the situation whereby users are used to buying pirated works?
A: We have a number of programmes we will use in engaging the users of art products such sensitisation campaigns and on the aspects of copyright issues. You may also wish to know that piracy also thrives in a place where there is void. Therefore, we will also work hand-in-hand with the law enforcers to help in curbing the problem.
Q: What is the status of the production and marketing cooperative start?
A: The cooperative will be operation in two months time because currently we are recruiting staff. But this will change the landscape of music production and marketing in the country. However, this cooperative needs the support of all artists for it to bear intended results. Artists should be willing to work with the initiative because in so doing, they will help to curb illegal sale of arts products. n