Gallo artists pipe up on piracy

King William’s Town singer and ‘Idols SA’ 2019 winner Luyolo Yiba encourages fans to download or stream music from legitimate platforms
HELP A MUSO: King William’s Town singer and ‘Idols SA’ 2019 winner Luyolo Yiba encourages fans to download or stream music from legitimate platforms

With public gatherings  banned  for about two months now as a result of coronavirus lockdown measures, many SA musicians who previously made a living from their live performances have taken a knock.

This has led to musicians depending more on digital music platforms than ever before and, while the lockdown has seen people find comfort in art forms ranging from music to film and television, artists still face the dilemma of piracy.    

Gallo artists such as Idols SA season 15 winner Luyolo Yiba said it was both from a lack of knowledge and a matter of affordability that supporters turned to websites such as and to download music.

Yiba said this was causing a dent in the pockets of musicians they meant to support.

“A lot of people genuinely don’t know that downloading music from such platforms actually does not support us.

“Streaming on platforms such as Spotify or iTunes means each time a person comes on to stream, the artist benefits.

But these other websites will buy an artist’s song once and get thousands of people downloading the song, but none of that goes to the artist,” Yiba said.

He added that, while online streaming was among the best ways to support musicians during the lockdown, affordability played a big role.

“I won’t lie, we know the struggle with data prices in SA, so I will not act surprised that people opt to download from these websites once off and keep the music on the devices to play whenever, even when they have no data.

“However I urge that those who have the knowledge and can afford to stream or buy music from legit platforms do so,” Yiba said.

Another Gallo artist and former Idols SA season 11 contestant, Lungisa Xhamela, echoed Yiba’s sentiments on ignorance perpetuating online piracy.

Xhamela said streaming platforms were their hope now that they could not perform in person at  events.

“It offers you some form of comfort to know that there are people streaming your music online during this  time because you will get compensated for it later, even though it’s not immediate.

“It’s such a bittersweet thing to have people send you screenshots to show they’re listening to your music, but you find that it’s been downloaded from one of these websites,” Xhamela said.

Yiba said while the main goal was to use music to heal and comfort, among other benefits, singers relied on their talents and their supporters’ financial support to put food on the table.

“We absolutely appreciate the love because the primary thing is to get music to the people, but we also need money — that’s how we make a living — and piracy takes much of that away from us,” Yiba said.

Idols SA season 14 winner and Gallo artist Yanga Sobetwa said artists should also take it upon themselves to inform supporters about what the acceptable platforms were.

“If you truly support someone you follow them on social media and keep up with what they are doing, so if we as artists constantly educate people about the impact of piracy and where they should access our music to support us, it would make a difference,” she said.

“Online is definitely more efficient but it has also made it so easy for people to download music on these piracy websites and then share it via WhatsApp or Bluetooth, leaving musicians with no monetary benefit.

“Music is a financial thing for us and most people; it’s also what puts food on the table for us,” Sobetwa said.

To help support their favourite artists, listeners are advised to use online platforms Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify, Deezer, Stay Tuned, Amazon Music and Google Play.

To make lockdown streaming easier and beneficial for all, Gallo’s Quarantunes playlist contains proudly SA music accessible on various platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Stay Tuned.

Visit for the playlist and to stream music by artists including Xhamela, Yiba, Sobetwa, Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, Lucky Dube, Oliver Mtukudzi and others.