Recently, I was offered for sale a homemade CD from a local belly dancer. It was a compilation featuring a variety of oriental music, sold in a plastic sleeve with a photo of the dancer, and with no track listing or other information.
At £10 a CD, it's obviously a nice way of supplementing a dancer's income, particularly at workshops where eager students can clamber to purchase the track used in the class. But this brings with it unfortunate consequences.
I can try to explain more about the implications of music piracy, but it's probably better to watch Beata Cifuentes, one of the victims of this type of crime, explaining for himself.
If you want to understand more about how much of the heart and soul of an artist goes into producing original oriental music, I would also recommend reading Yasmina of Cairo's article in this months NADA magazine.
Finally, this is one of my favourite CDs:
This music was produced by Jennifer Carmen of Layali El Sharq music. One of the tracks is a beautiful Baladi accordion progression, played by Sheikh Taha (for more about Sheikh Taha read the latest issue of Mosaic magazine). Last month, I watched an experienced professional performer dance a lovely rendition to this very piece. I approached the performer later that evening to speak to her about what is one of my favourite pieces of music. But I quickly discovered that she wasn't even aware of where the music had come from, let alone know the name of the artist. And she was far from understanding the story behind it (which you can read here).
In the Arabic Dance world, performers are increasingly conscious of finding out exactly what style they are dancing to, ensuring that they understand the lyrics and are sensitive to the culture which the music comes from. So why should so many of these same artists have no reservation about disrespecting the artistry and hard work that goes into producing the very recordings that they dance to?