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Gospel musician Pastor Charles Charamba and his wife Olivia once took matters into their hands and launched a crackdown on shops that sold their pirated music.

After the exercise, which was not successful as was widely expected, Pastor Charamba fumed: “Piracy is bad. If we had done a very thorough operation, more and more outlets and individuals could be identified.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of copies that are being sold by these pirates.

“The Fishers of Men (his band) will not stop there. It is high time we unite to stamp out piracy.”

Well, I consider this a brave act from the pastor and his wife, although it had a lot of risks, the major one being that the couple could have been beaten up by such criminal elements.

Piracy has been allowed to take root in the country to such an extent that those involved in it no longer want to let go.

And they react with violence and disdain towards anyone who dares challenge them, including the law enforcement agents.

Even those who would have worked so hard to record albums are met with so much resistance when they dare confront pirates selling their works.

Music pirates in Zimbabwe have simply become so hardened and heartless that they do not care if the owner of the musical works does not get anything out of their effort.

That Pastor Charamba and his wife came out unscathed in the operation in which they recovered 49 of their Ds and CDs that were being pirated is actually unprecedented.

The best to do in such circumstances if one intends to move from shop to shop in the fight against pirates is to enlist the services of the police.

Anyway, one major lesson that can be drawn from the Charamba’s mission is that piracy will be with us for a long time if authorities continue with their lethargic approach.

In fact, that music piracy has been allowed to flourish is evidence enough that nobody cares any more about stopping this vice.

Piracy does not discriminate against a particular genre and the demise of several gospel music groups in Zimbabwe in the last few years can be rightly attributed to piracy.

What’s the use of producing music that finds its way on the streets even before the album has been released?

I think piracy should have by now awakened gospel musicians to the reality that relying on record bar sells is no longer a viable option.

What they must do now is to device appropriate marketing strategies that will ensure they survive and that the legacy of gospel music in Zimbabwe lives on.

Only those gospel musicians who are innovative will be able to survive the monster called piracy.

If Pastor Charamba, for instance, had other options in selling his music, he could not have risked limb and life confronting pirates whom he knows are always ready to tell someone to go to hell.

The major option for gospel musicians is to market their works within the church.

If a gospel musician comes up with songs that prove popular with the church goers, I do not see the reason why they cannot sell their music.

What this entails is ensuring that the album does not leak before it is ready for the market.

The musicians will then introduce the album in their particular church and start marketing it and selling it at church gatherings.

Musicians who are good at the game can simply beat piracy by resorting to this method.

During church functions, church leaders should grant musicians within their churches an opportunity to play their songs as a way of marketing them.

Once their songs appeal to the audience, I do not see any reason why some in the crowd might not end up buying the album.

Gospel musicians who go to churches which attract large numbers are the ones likely to benefit more from this method.

Just imagine how many copies a musician can sell within the first month of releasing an album in a church which attracts thousands every week?

It could actually be more than what the musician could have realised even if they were selling the album before the aent of piracy.

Gospel musicians who are not affiliated to a certain denomination will soon realise that the sooner they do so the better.

This is because the fight against piracy has been lost and such musicians will gain nothing by pretending that they will make it through relying on record bar sells.

In fact, the demise of some of the major record bars in recent years is a clear sign that this method of selling albums is no longer working.

But gospel musicians have an aantage in that they have the crowds behind them already and what they need is to come up with proper strategies on how they can market their works within the church.

This strategy is, of course, supported by good albums.

There are some gospel musicians who think that because they belong to a certain congregation, people there will just buy their recordings because they interact with them every Sunday.

Such musicians need to reflect on their thinking and come up with good projects which compel people to part with their money.

My experience with church goers is that they want to be associated with musicians from their own churches.

They are ready to support their own musicians, but it is time the musicians play their part by coming up with good albums.

Source : The Herald

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