SWAKOPMUND - Namibian artists at the coast have vowed to clamp down on music piracy as they are losing out on their only source of income through this illegal practice.
Four people were arrested on Thursday by the police at Walvis Bay for piracy.
Artists say they were losing thousands of dollars and implicated printing shops and shebeen and jukebox owners as the biggest culprits who illegally sell their hard work.
Out of frustration local artist Fredrick Shitana, known as LT, last week worked with the police in what led to the arrest of the four people.
He also removed hundreds of counterfeit CDs and memory cards from various shebeens and jukeboxes on Thursday.
Also, Simon Neonga, manager of the musician Exit, flew in on Thursday afternoon after hundreds of copies of Exit’s latest CD that has yet to be distributed were copied and sold at a printing shop at Walvis Bay
Neonga told New Era that it is sad that people continue producing counterfeit CDs despite so much awareness being created around the issue.
“This is the only source of income for many Namibian artists and yet they are being ripped off. Yet people want them to continue releasing albums. Nobody can operate on a loss,” he said.
He says there is no difference between the selling price of pirated copies and the originals as they all range from N$100 to N$150.
Shitana also told New Era that piracy at Walvis Bay is the biggest in the country, adding that those selling pirated copies even make more money thanthe artists at the end of the day.
“When I started out in 2012, I sold more than 20 000 copies. These days an artist is lucky if they sell even 2 000 copies. That is how bad piracy is and I hope those that are guilty of it realise the damage they cause and stop,” he said.
“Imagine you spend about N$1 500 on a complete song and pay about N$40 000 to complete an album to sell, but in the meantime someone is ripping off your album and makes more than you, the artist, at the end of the day,” he said .
Ironically, Shitana was arrested last year when he, out of frustration, posed as a police officer and demanded payments for the use of his music from three bars and shebeens.
Shitana says his arrest had a positive spinoff as he just received a letter from the police that artists can now inspect shebeens and jukeboxes and remove any pirated copies of their work.
In the meantime both Shitana and Neonga said that they will mobilise all artists and managers and do spot-checks at shebeens and printing shops to clamp down on piracy.