The Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) board of trustees on Tuesday kicked-started the journey towards improving the welfare of musicians with a meeting with top musicians aimed at looking at the basic issues affecting musicians.
The meeting, held at the Grace Bandawe Conference Centre in Blantyre, attracted some established musicians such as Ethel Kamwendo-Banda, Wycliffe Chimwendo, Favoured Martha and Grace Chinga and, among the issues raised by the musicians was the lack of security on their products, working in isolation with music bodies and the lack of a music market.
However, what sparked debate was the availability of music holograms to vendors and music producers.
In 2010, a group of Lilongwe musicians teamed up to fight piracy and expose the racket that was aiding music vendors to get holograms to stick on pirated music. The operation exposed that some Cosoma employees were leaking the holograms.
At the Blantyre meeting, Cosoma officials admitted the leakage, but told the meeting that they have since sealed the loopholes. Cosoma reported that it has dismissed some employees suspected have leaked the holograms and promised the musicians change in 2014.
“It was our first meeting organised by the Cosoma board and it is part of the mission to extricate the challenges musicians are facing. It was a fruitful meeting and all players; Mam, Cosoma and musicians raised their concerns. All parties’ weakness were raised and discussed and we believe it is a good start,” said Cosoma board chair Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango, who is also president of the Musicians Association of Malawi.
The musicians said they resorted to selling their music on the streets as a move aimed at curbing piracy. They added that it is also a sign that they have lost trust in Cosoma.
“We have got the key issues and we are meeting more musicians and by the end of the meetings, we will come up with resolutions on how to control musicians’ work,” said Mhango, adding that they are creating a new music market with the assistance of city councils.