Note:This is an excerpt from the free e-Book, "Download Currency - The KasiMP3 Story". You can read more about the book and get a free copy here.
KasiMP3 was enjoying healthy growth.
Unfortunately, some people in the mainstream music industry in South Africa were harboring negative emotions towards the platform. I was not aware of this for a long time because my plan was to eventually integrate KasiMP3 with the mainstream music industry.
I saw great value in the mainstream industry’s vast intellectual property because amongst many things the major recording labels knew the art of making superstars, but to their detriment, they just did not see a future made of both of us.
Coming from the IT industry, I had witnessed how the world changed in response to the concept of Free & Open Source Software (FOSS), as a result, I felt some sympathy for the mainstream music industry for not understanding the role of technology and it disrupting their traditional business models.
The first time I got a sense of how the mainstream music industry in South Africa was thinking in relation to the success of KasiMP3, was when I paid a visit to one of the SA Hip-Hop Awards workshops. I thought it was all love when I first introduced the platform to the crowd, but things unexpectedly became intense with other artists going as far as vowing to never let their music to be published on the platform. They were all happy to explain to me how “trashy” the product is and how we are apparently killing the music industry.
I was insulted by the remarks.
For a while, the remarks lingered on in my mind, but I have realized that one will run into a lot of what I see as stupid people, and stupid people say stupid things all the time, so I just forgave them, pretended like nothing happened and moved on.
Incidents like this happened quite a lot and often, two months later after an artist makes such a negative remark, the same music artist would quietly create a KasiMP3 account and upload their songs as if nothing happened.
I’m never vengeful because I have come to observe that it is mostly the black self-hate talking. My second run-in with the mainstream music industry people in South Africa, related to KasiMP3, proved to be the most explosive.
It started with an e-mail from a person named Nic Burger. The e-mail read:
“Please remove this track immediately: http://KasiMP3.co.za/s/aUx This is copyright of Soul Candi Records. Failure to remove this will result in legal steps with our business affairs as well as RISA”.
I was taken aback by the threat of legal action, it also annoyed me because on a regular and daily basis we remove illegal uploads to KasiMP3.
“Don’t you think it’s a little bit tasteless to introduce yourself with threats of legal action like this, but enough with the negativity as this industry needs both of our expertise to survive. We do not have friends who work for Soul Candi Records, so do you mind explaining to me in greater detail the copyright infringed by DJ Vibes.”
I tend to be extreme with my responses at times, Nic then responded:
“Please note I'm CC'ing in Agnus Rheeder from RISA Anti-Piracy in on this email to take this matter further. Soul Candi Records owns the rights to ORNETTE - Crazy and we in no way gave KasiMP3 or "DJ Vibes" permission to remix this record or offer it for sale and download on KasiMP3 or any other site for that matter. We have already removed his ZippyShare and various other downloads offered.
Angus please can we log an official complaint against KASIMP3 for offering ORNETTE - Crazy (DJ Vibes Remix) for sale. Please let me know any official paperwork required to take this matter further. Infringing item : http://KasiMP3.co.za/s/aUx“
After that exchange, the “power games” officially began.
The e-mails went from discussing a potential illegal remix to discussing KasiMP3 being a "township version” of The Pirate Bay. Graeme Gilfillan even said:
“A look at Shipa Music’s KasiMP3.co.za site……. is to take a look at a host of illegal and infringing activity. Very sad and unnecessary”
The matter kept on being escalated, at times it felt like having the whole of SA’s mainstream music industry was coming down on KasiMP3, demanding the shutdown of the platform.
It turned into a music industry politics game, I went to the extent of offering RISA (Recording Industry of South Africa) an administrative console on KasiMP3, this in a bid to enable them to have the oversight role to delete whatever song they wanted to delete. Instead, they opted to fight to what I believe was a fight to get the platform killed.
I asked myself “What’s your agenda RISA?
We offered you the godly administrative rights on our platform, something YouTube and SoundCloud will never let you have. Yet you seek the death of us, regardless of the fact that 99% of our downloads are legal, or maybe you need to eliminate all threats to the monopoly by any means necessary, even if 33,400 independent artists are standing in the way then so be it. After all, strategically it’s better to keep them hungry so that when one of your masters offers them a slave contract they are in the mood to accept anything.
I was angry.
E-mails about how we are running an illegal operation eventually reached our hosting provider, Hetzner South Africa. Hetzner then gave me a call requiring details of our operations. I forwarded the required details to prove we are a legal operation, I offered to provide logs of all the illegal songs we have been deleting since we went online. Hetzner was happy with the details and agreed there is nothing wrong with our operations and the complaint was closed.
A week later, on 28 December 2012 I the received a call from Hetzner saying that their parent company from Germany where the files are being hosted don’t want to host KasiMP3 anymore. The reason they gave was that file sharing websites were illegal in Germany.
I suspected foul play by RISA.
Hetzner told us they will be happy to host KasiMP3 in their South Africa based data center, but unfortunately, the price of local bandwidth was outrageous for us. So, the only option at the time was to shut down KasiMP3 while looking for an alternative hosting provider.
28 February 2013, KasiMP3 came back online after 2 months offline.
The vision is bigger. Initially, I was building KasiMP3 to be a peripheral tool for the music industry, but since the music industry would rather see the death of our platform, the only objective was for us as the KasiMP3 community to becoming the music industry itself.