Star FM, MNOs Create A Mobile Platform to Curb Piracy


Music piracy is a scourge that has troubled artists the world over. Downloading services like Napster and MP3 Skull offer music for free, as long as one has internet access. The issue of music copyright has always brought contention to individuals, artists, recording companies, vendors and those that play the music on their stations with regards to royalties and fees.

The music industry is a billion dollar industry and everyday music is being produced by artists to be released to customers. However, the billions are trading hands legally and illegally.

Alan Shirichena

Music piracy is very much alive in Zimbabwe, it’s not unusual to find music on the streets even before it’s released, CD burning and buying songs for a dollar along the streets of Harare is not uncommon.

With piracy so rife, artists no longer make the money they used to make from album sales. They now rely on live performances.

Star FM has come up with a panacea to kill off the piracy industry, working hand in hand with music producers and Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s). The initiative entails purchasing songs via Short Message Services (SMS) on SMS platforms of local MNO’s.

It’s a similar setup to what we MNO’s already offer with regards to ringtones. Individuals can purchase a song of their choice and have it assigned to their mobile device as a ringtone.
It is hoped that this will boost sales.

The Zim dancehall genre is being used to pilot test the project and the scheme could be spread to other genres later. The concept is presently functional in South Africa, Namibia and Kenya and has so far proved effective in countering piracy and improving the legal distribution of music there.


“Godfather” Templeman, one of the brains behind the project, said “Music is going to be sold through an SMS platform that will be provided through our show ‘The Dancehall Remedy’ on Star FM. The idea is we have a Top 20 chart show that will be held week-in-week-out and a code for the purchase of one’s song of choice will be issued.”

On how the SMS System will work, song purchasing will take half a minute, the selection of songs to be featured in the Top 20 competition would be put in place with the songs regularly rotated using the voting system.

Quality control will be of utmost importance as substandard music will compromise the service. Remuneration will be given to artistes at given intervals as their songs are bought via the SMS platform and this will be administered by Star FM.

Dancehall is currently reigning supreme in Zimbabwe. But the performers’ fame and popularity have not translated into healthier bank accounts — something that Star FM hopes to change.

Music is a part of our everyday lives. The service on offer will definitely leave both fans and producers happier as artistes get their money, and listeners get their music!

Marvelous Chibagidhi

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