Kuwait: Music distributor pulls out of Kuwait because of censorship
Music Master, a leading Dubai-based music distributor, has stopped its Kuwait operations because state censorship of albums and artwork makes it impossible to operate, reported Arabian Business on 31 January 2011.
Albums by mainstream artists such as Beyonce and Lady Gaga have run into problems in Kuwait.
“It comes down to censorship issues. There is too much censorship to justify having a full-scale operation there,” Saeed El Ajou, managing director of the Dubai-based company Music Master told Arabian Business.
“If you can’t push your top-selling artists then it makes it hard to justify having a full-scale business. The avant-garde artists – Lady Gaga, Beyonce – who are the bestsellers, tend to cause a problem,” he said.
‘Provocative’ Music Master, which launched a music download website in 2011, is one of the Middle East’s largest distributors with operations in the Gulf states, Egypt and Lebanon. The company sells into some 50 stores across Kuwait, but said it had struggled to maintain sales in the face of strict rules on album artwork and lyrics that shut some artists out of the market.
“It is basically lyrics and artwork and anything that is seen as provocative won’t go through. Anything which has any provocative lyrics or any innuendo,” said El Ajou. The country’s restrictions eclipse those enforced by conservative Saudi Arabia, he added.
Music Master distributes music from major labels such as Universal, Sony and EMI.
Virgin Megastores contemplates A source told Arabian Business that Virgin Megastores is currently reviewing the scale of its retail operations in Kuwait following the news.
Kuwait, like many Gulf states, has walked a careful line between modernising its society and maintaining its more conservative traditions. Music shops were closed in 2008 and politicians called for music education to be banned in 2009.
A number of singers have also been banned from performing in the Gulf nation, including Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram who was refused permission to hold a concert in 2005. Egyptian singer Tamer Hosni’s concert in 2008 ended abruptly when a fan jumped up on stage and kissed him.