Trinidad and Tobago has made an immense contribution to regional and international music with calypso, the steel pan, soca and more. But unfortunately, we have not done enough to support these local artists and inventors by buying legal copies of their music, from which they might actually garner some income.
Instead, via illicit music downloading and sharing, and most lucratively for pirates on the streets of Port of Spain, illegal copies of local and international music are bought and sold in vast quantities. And while local advertising campaigns by local artists and the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT) aim to increase awareness of the detrimental effects of music piracy, the problem persists. It has even garnered international attention, as seen in a recent BBC news article.
Without the benefit of the kind of lucrative record contracts that launch and maintain many international artists, local performers often pour a lot of their own personal finances into their music, with their only hope for getting any of it back being through album or single sales – and if they’re lucky, like Bunji, Machel, Destra or KES, endorsement deals and appearance fees at big events. Nevertheless, many of the stalwart performing groups and artists still generate most of their often humble incomes from single and album sales.
So whether you are a local or a foreign visitor who’s looking to get a a hold of local (or foreign) music, please don’t obtain it illegally, or worse yet give your money to an illegal vendor for a pirated copy. Urban centres, malls, and ports of call always have good music shops, and for even greater convenience, single songs and full albums can be legally downloaded or bought at online outlets like TrinidadTunes.com and TrinidadMusicStore.com.
Pirates may be a Caribbean stereotype now entrenched by Disney, but don’t be one of them.