A Nash TV contract has been doing the rounds lately with its contents causing an uproar in some quarters while getting pats on the back for astute business acumen from others.The contract in question sees an artist relinquish all rights to their music if it is to appear on the Nash TV platform.Sounds draconian if put together in context with an earlier poster that did the rounds that had Nash TV charging artists a fee to perform on their Hotspot platform doesn’t it?Because now an artist is essentially paying to sell away the rights of their Intellectual Property in exchange for exposure a currency that usually doesn’t pay bills last time I checked.
Others are rightly pointing out that Nash TV is not a charity organization and needs to get Return On Investment for money ploughed into their various business endeavours.Sound economic rhetoric from afar but lets remember Nash TV was built on a somewhat unspoken assumption that they were supporting the local arts while shifting marketing trends in Zimbabwe through product placement and collaboration with artistic brands a maverick move in these archaic remnants of an industry we call Zimbabwe.
That the domino effect of having 100s of different artists put their music on the Nash TV YouTube channel would be fans of all these guys camping on Nash TV pushing up their views and subscribers was a no brainer.It was like collaborating with say a Freeman without collaborating with a Freeman.For the OGs exposure to new talent to hopefully work with was and remains a possibility while for undiscovered talent the giant Nash TV has become would help get them into new fanbases previously out of reach for them.
This has happened and may as well continue to happen and as an organization Nash will definitely get some things right and some wrong ultimately making decisions beneficial to them nomatter what the court of public opinion says.Herein lies the problem though society is not a vacuum and art is oftentimes the mirror of society.
We might brush aside exploitation of artists and blame them for not reading contracts while ultimately forgetting how this filters down to the rest of society.An employer paying an employee pennies and not giving him leave days,medical assistance etc etc becomes fine because the desperate employee did not read the contract.A foreign power banking all the money they make in Zimbabwe in offshore accounts and taking our precious resources with them becomes okay because as a nation we didn’t read the fine print.The government using parts of the constitution beneficial to them to muzzle free speech and democracy becomes okay because we didn’t read and understand the fineprintifineprint.
Before you place the honus of understanding exploitative legal documents on starving artists some of whom might not be as literate about general law let alone entertainment law with its nuances remember that by tolerating exploitation in one arena we open the floodgates and give exploitative individuals the moral campus to continuously do the same to us in other arenas.
A music historian,cultural curate and pop culture fundi dedicated to unearthing the brilliance of all things Zimbabwean