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Is music everyone’s property?

  • Published at 11:42 pm July 28th, 2018

Artists are not fully aware of their rights, and a royalty system has yet to take shape

In Bangladesh, it appears as though a song becomes everyone’s property once it is released. Everyone uses the song wherever one pleases. It appears in television dramas, on the internet, on the radio, in cell-phones and everywhere imaginable, without its creator making a penny. Nobody bothers about the artists’ rights. The lopsided system makes it awkward to ask for pay in exchange for permitting the use of one’s song in a drama or an event.

It’s a pity that a songwriter would pen a song, a composer would render tune to it, and a singer would sing it for a four digit or in rare cases, a five digit paycheque, no matter how popular the song eventually becomes. How come the creator of hundreds of popular songs die poor and helpless?  How come many of our artists beg for medical support at the dusk of their lives, while artists in developed countries own personal jets by means of making music only?

Artists are not fully aware of their rights, and a royalty system has yet to take shape. Label companies are exploiting the artists in many instances by paying lump sums and signing agreements in return. New artists are required to pay rather than get paid for their albums. 

Here we find banker-cum-singers, businessperson-cum-singers and many other such unlikely combinations. It is pitiable that artists perform on stage in the evening after attending office the whole day, although it is a common scenario in Bangladesh. Music therefore remains a hobby here, rather than a profession.