The highlight of Arts and Innovation week must have been the second annual Music Spring Conference that was held on the 5th October 2017 at Victoria Hotel, right in the city centre of Maseru. Bringing together, stakeholders of the music business; managers, promoters, agents, publicist, and obviously artists, Lesotho Music Rights Association (LMRA) hosted this conference to attempt to answer the biggest cry in the country at the moment when it comes to copyright issues and royalties. The event made possible by Vodacom Lesotho; who expressed great gratitude to be part of this milestone and pledged to continue to support the fast growing music industry. Vodacom Lesotho who have for many years now have been investing in nurturing local talent through their various initiatives saw this opportunity as a way of continuing to invest in the fundamentals so that artists can complement the knowledge that has already been initially martyred
The importance of music as a cornerstone of cultural life in developing countries is well understood. The production of local popular music has grown from its roots in long -established local culture, and has emerged in many countries in the developing world to become a significant economic industry through the wider spread of live music practice, local and national broadcasting, the establishment of a domestic recording industry and eventually, for some participants, access to the international music market. This process originates with the fact that production of music for economic gain can provide a relatively accessible avenue for individuals and groups to move into the cash economy. Many of the performance skills will already have been acquired, and capital requirements and barriers to entry are relatively low. Typically individuals or groups begin with live performance for payment, and, if they are successful and motivated, they may move into broadcasting or recording for the local market. In many countries throughout the developing world, small-scale recording companies have sprung up over the years, serving local broadcasting networks and retail outlets. Since there is often no effective copyright regime in force, the costs to users can be quite small, and of course this also means that the returns to composers and performers of the music are likely to be similarly constrained.
Present at the conference was the Law office Registrar General, representatives from the biggest collecting societies in South Africa; RISA, SAMPRA, IMPRA, Batho-Pele and Sheer Music and Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition. Each gave stellar presentation to highlight how they have operated throughout the years, and highlighted also some of the opportunities and challenges that are embedded in the music industry and business.
The future roles of all the major stakeholders in the industry are likely to change substantially in the years ahead. Record companies and music publishers are fighting to retain dominant positions in a market increasingly subject to forces which could relegate the traditionally powerful players to a minor role, or could even see their disappearance altogether.
Despite these changes, however, the significance of intellectual property rights remains as a fundamental means by which creators are rewarded for their past work and given an incentive to continue working in the future. However the shape of the music industry evolves in future, the importance of copyright as an element in the market is likely to remain undiminished. Finally the appropriate role for government intervention in order to foster cultural industry development.