Bangladesh, July 2019.
He talked with Ahmed about the Baul genre. Ahmed is a student of Philosophy from Jahangirnagar University. The Bauls of Bangla are not well recognized in today’s academics. While having tea at Suparitola, they saw the green-colored campus bus arrive from Dhaka. Ahmed said I would introduce you to one of our big brothers, a Baul singer, and songwriter. That’s Sohan Vai. Let’s meet him. Sohan usually wears long sleeve shirts with colored eyeglasses. He thinks every artist should know copyright and how to copyright Bangla audio content worldwide. Ahmed greeted Sohan, vai kemon achen; and introduced Mr. Nas aka Nasir vai. They talk about music labels, royalties, and copyright. Songs are copyrighted to their owner as soon as it is produced, but it is not enough. He went to Dhaka to attend a workshop on copyright materials. He wants to know how to make a living by music production. He teaches guitar classes in the TSC music room to support his daily bills. He gets little support from home. He learned the meaning of ISRC (International Standard Recording Code- ISRC), a 12-character, alphanumeric code. It is assigned to a piece of audio content for commercial release.
Mr. Nas learns that if artists want to act as their managers, the quality may compromise with Artist. Besides, Publishing a song through Label is less expensive than paying an attorney. The attorney doesn’t take responsibility for distributing the song. They charge for patents only. The composition pieces must be copyrighted and distributed by a music publication company, a local government agency, or an attorney.
Once upon a time, when the internet was unavailable, the legendary singer Abbas Uddin attempted to preserve Bangla folk songs with the help of the Rangpur radio station. The board members did not approve it because of storage limitations. Vocals were recorded on a plate or disc and tape. Their storage resources were minimal. Abbas Uddin felt that we need to find an archiving system that would give future generations access to Bangla folk songs online from anywhere.
Sohan went to Dhaka city to attend a workshop on copyright creative content. He wants to know how to copyright his songs worldwide. He said, Nasir Vai, there are so many Baul singers and songwriters whose songs are being performed and streamed on different platforms worldwide, but it is sad that the creators’ legacy is not being established. Mr. Nas told him the story of his great-granddad, Yusuf Gayen. If Yusuf Gayen copyrighted his Boithoki songs, Mr. Nas would get the grand steaming royalties! His songs, Boithoki gaan, are still being performed in many local folk festivals in the district of Jessore, but Mr. Nas does not know which one was Yusuf Gayen’s composition. So the mission is to copyright creative content or archive inaccessible storage. Equal access is the birthright of all.
Sohan asked, Nasir vai can you help me publish my album of songs? I need help to finish my album. I already have two pieces published from the G-series label. I agree with the label that I will get streaming income worldwide and have content streams from my youtube channel. The steaming income is too little to live. Without performance, artists in Bangladesh do not get a living. Mr. Nas said an artist could have one-time performance revenue from a show, and the show is uncertain due to the pandemic, as you cover a song on television or Facebook media with too little support. Job as a voice artist in a media company looks like I am singing from jail. I like to perform in live concerts, but corona stops everything, and as a third-world country, we have an inferior condition in digital media. I do not have good storage where I can store my songs. Mr. Nas replied, there is a way if there is a wish. I will support your daily living; you will sing and record Baul songs for me and songs of mOHiKonTok. I need to copyright my book of poems mOHiKonTok. So far, I remember reading in one document from the USA copyright office that the songwriter artist would get a royalty for a lifetime plus 70 years. Ahmed asks, what copyright means? Mr. Nas said the song is copyrighted as soon as they are produced, but it is not enough for commercial purpose. The pieces need to be copyrighted. There are agencies like music publication companies, government agencies, or attorneys for creating copyright files. Publishing a song through Label is less expensive than paying an attorney fee. So they agreed to work on making music and get a copyright through the label name mOHiKonTok.
The aim is to restore Baul’s songs without ruining their acoustic appeal in composition. Sohan is mixing Bngla folk instruments like flute, tabla, khonjoni, harmonium, dhol, and six strings acoustic-electric bass guitar. Years they were passed. Mr. Nas contacts Apple, Spotify, and other aggregators to get the songs to publish and learns how to comply with music store policy. During that time, Covid 19 Pandemic hits the community. Schools were closed, and all were isolated. People were wearing masks and waiting for the vaccine. The groceries were out of toilet paper and food. The age has found its curve to shape the future music industry. People stop going to concerts. Amazon music stores have seen the most listeners compared to past years. Isolation makes online steaming volume higher. Mr. Nas concentrated on learning more about music production at the record label. Mr. Nas called Sohan to inform him that he had found the mOHiKonTok Label to publish songs through Apple iTunes. mOHiKonTok introduces Baul music as a new genre through its label.
Sohan is a vocal artist and a self-trained audio engineer. He told Mr. Nas that Bangla music labels like G series would be more expensive to publish our song. Mr. Nas contacts Apple, Spotify, and other aggregators to get the pieces published and educated about costs. Logistics support to get composition or audio content approved in music stores. He said all we need is studio quality recorded song. Sohan has set up a recording studio in Bangladesh. The studio is more than seven thousand miles away from New York City. We can still work together being in two different countries. Digital power has lessened the geographical gaps.
The friends hired a battery-powered three-wheeler van for an hour to move around the beautiful Jahangirnagar campus. The world is changing faster than ever. Technology is doing magic. The van moves more quickly. The van is running by machine instead of a paddle. High tech made evolution faster than any other technology ever introduced in human history. Passion makes people do magic.
There was not enough space to archive the songs that Abbasuddin had collected. There were no options like iCloud or Amazon S3 storage during his time. The authority rejected his idea as it was unrealistically expensive. It seems to Mr. Nas that mOHiKonTok got the opportunity to finish Abbasuddin’s unfinished job. The van stops at the Prantik gate. We stepped down from the three-wheeler van for Cha and Singara break time. Babu spoke, Vai let’s take this van to America as a model. This van is environmentally friendly. There is zero greenhouse gas emission from this van. Sohan added the van is a symbol of the Bangla folk music platform, and it can carry 6-8 artists on a single ride. It is super inexpensive! We can present a cost-effective solution to our creative listeners. Vai, isn’t there any problem with copyright issues, like copyrighted products being restricted to view?
Mr. Nas replied mOHiKonTok is an artist’s dream to own content to be copyrighted while making them available to the public. For example, if YouTube content is copyrighted, content views are not restricted to download or streaming. The iTunes Store’s songs come without protection from Digital Rights Management (DRM). These DRM-free songs, called iTunes Plus, have no usage restrictions and feature high-quality, 256 kbps AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) encoding.
What was happening in Indian music under the Mogul empire?
Not all Baul Lyricists did poetic justice for the sake of both literature and life. Baul’s songs encourage listeners to unlearn destructive prejudices and promote learning to respect different views.
Mr. Nas added the copyright number; you can claim streaming revenue of your songs or podcast through mOHiKonTok. Your theme is not only playing on YouTube but also on other social media unknown to you. You will need copyright numbers (ISRC and UPC) to use your audio content commercially. Anyone can own any uncopyrighted content. It complexes legal issues, for example, sharing royalties. Babu asked If I have studio-quality finished audio content, like audio drama or theater (like the podcast) will I be able to submit it to the Apple iTunes store and get copyright numbers, vai? Mr. Nas said the songs need to be copyrighted through a music publication company, a government agency, or by an attorney. Apple iTunes is an online music store.