Cantajuegos and Stealing Kids Songs

There are aspects of Spanish ‘Culture’ that you would never dream of until you have children in Spain.

One thing I was protected from for all those years before I became a parent in Spain, was the world of the ‘Cantajuegos’.

The Cantajuegos are kids songs, performed by a very jolly group of people in blue dungarees (see if you can last til the 15 second mark, to see said people):

Now, every single 0 to 6 year old in Spain knows just about every one of the 50+ Cantajuego songs (and usually the moves that go with them), off by heart! Every parent of this age group possesses a copy of the Cantajuegos songs, though as far as I can tell, not many have paid for any of them!

The most common phrase overheard amongst the 30-something parents of this generation when talking about the Cantajuegos music is, “Ah si, yo lo baje del emule”, ‘Oh yes, I downloaded that via emule’, leaving the Blue-Dungaree crew to make money, I imagine, off their live tours for totts.

Many Spanish people don’t feel any moral remorse about downloading films, music etc, as the government taxes us on every single kind of recording and reproduction media, passing the money back to the SGAE (General Association of Authors and Publishers), to redistribute amongst poor, royalty-denied writers, muscians etc.

For example, every time we buy a blank CD, we pay an extra 17 centimos that goes straight to the SGAE, because obviously we are bound to use it to do something illegal with!

You can see a full list of just what gets taxed here, but I was amazed that I was even SGAE-taxed on a new internal hard drive for my Macbook recently! The logic goes with many Spanish media-consumers then, that if we are taxed as thieves before the act, we might as well steal, or in this case, download, guilt-free.

The tax, know here as the hated “Canon por copia privada”, has far-reaching consequences – apparently Catalan hairdressers are up in arms this week, refusing to pay another SGAE-tax to play radio in their salons, asking clients to bring in their own iPods instead!

Back to the Cantajuegos… as much as it drove me mad to begin with, after 7 million repetitions on our living room stereo, I’m now rather fond of the Blue-Dungaree crew’s tunes, I’ll leave you with my favourite:

26 thoughts on “Cantajuegos and Stealing Kids Songs

  1. BrianA

    The printed word is treated in the same way. How many of us have been given photocopied pages of Spanish grammar or exercises in the classroom? No need to buy the book!
    The answer is probably to reduce the price of copyright work to a level where it’s not worth copying. But making a living as an author, songwriter or performer is not going to be easy until you hit the top of the sales lists.

  2. Jules

    Absolutely loved it! Even mastered the moves & done the cartwheels! (believe it if you like!)
    Better than some of the ditties that one hears in the UK: the wheels of the bus go round & round …

  3. Londoner_at_heart

    As an auntie with a 19 months old nephew, I know the cantajuegos off by heart too -to my shame. And I have seen the originals in my parent’s flat -and also witnessed copies of them being generously distributed to friends and relatives.

    What fascinates me most about piracy here is not the fact that it exists -let’s face it, it exists everywhere-, but the high moral ground that people feel they are in when downloading content. They are modern Quixotes fighting XXI century corporate thieves and they are in the right. So they are quite proud of their downloading. I mean, we’ve all done it, but brag about it? And consider it, not only legitimate, but even praiseworthy? It’s quite remarkable.

    As for the SGAE, I understand they have really bad press and they’re anal and annoying, BUT, thy are just a collecting society -they do not decide WHAT to collect, the law states that. They only collect and distribute, as it is done in just about any other country. Plus they’re not the only collecting agency, just the biggest and the one with the worst PR strategy and the biggest morons handling it.

    I think the problem is bigger and deeper than the SGAE, it involves expensive and crappy broadband, education and civil values, expensive DVDs, CDs and even books, lack of reasonably price legal alternative, and other factors (for example in the case of Spanish film, lack of good quality content that people would be happy to pay for!)

  4. American Girl

    Very interesting . . . gives me insight as to why my husband’s family has such a loose attitude about downloading. Living in the U.S., I have put a ban on any downloads by my husband or visiting in-laws at our house. Mickey Mouse is cute and sweet, but his attorneys are not!

    BTW . . . our kids love The Wiggles!

  5. Superplonk

    As an upstanding, moral kind of family we never make illegal copies of copyrighted material. We just got the Cantajuegos DVD-R from our son’s nursery. It had a load of cool Disney stuff on it too.

  6. Jessica

    Oh my gosh, I’m going to have that last cantajuego in my head all day – catchy!!! Great for practicing Spanish too!

    I wonder how the artists in Spain feel about the copying of their work? They might just be happy that it’s at least spreading and more people are hearing about them, even if it is illegal. It’s such an interesting phenomenon, living in a day and age where technology is thriving and things can be made, copied, sent, and spread within a few hours by regular people who may not consider themselves techies. I still don’t know how I feel about whether copying songs should be illegal or not…

  7. Ben Curtis Post author

    BrianA – True, we never think of using photocopies as copyright abuse.

    Jules – video please, would love to see you in action!

    LAH – You are right about the SGAE, I guess it isn’t their fault.

    American Girl – wise, I’ve seen the lawsuits in the states, and they aren’t pretty!

    Superplonk – Classic!

    Jessica – I imagine those that make a fortune from live concerts don’t mind much, but the rest of them are probably pretty p’d off!

  8. Hollis

    My oh my how sweet and tame these are in comparison to the shows my nephews watch in Japan. I was fortunate to spend some time with Zack, 5, and Porter, 2, over the holiday and observed several of their favorite Japanese cartoons slash language / learning programs. It’s truly another world …

  9. ValenciaSon

    My oldest wanted to hear Beatles albums as an infant, specifically the white album. My youngest wanted anything frenetic.

  10. Hollis

    I just learned that in the US they package identical CDs and DVDs as two different versions labeled “audio” and “data” to trick the consumer wishing to copy music into buying the audio versions, which are identical to the data discs, but cost more as they are taxed for this reason you describe above Ben.

  11. Nicole

    Hollis – I’ve never heard of that. The only thing we look into when buying blank DVDs (who buys data CDs anymore??) is whether they are +R, -R or both, and then we get the cheapest brand. 😛

    Ben – I really like reading your blog. You have such an art with words and I love Spain! Your perspective is always hilarious! Must be that dark/dry British humour. 🙂

  12. EntrepreneurSolo

    The SGAE ought to be neutered. They are trying to single handedly destroy the Fallas fiestas in Valencia and just about any sort of live or recorded performance. The hairdressers thing is the tip of a bloody large iceberg.
    As for the Cantajuegos…. aaarrgghh!!!

  13. American Girl

    I’ve read up on the hair salon thing. . . that blows my mind!

    Ben . . . I like your blog! I like reading about the non-Spaniard’s perspective on Spain and being married into a Spanish family. Makes me feel not so alone in this world. 🙂

  14. Marta

    Hi! I live in Barcelona and I have never heard of Cantajuegos. Do they have a TV show?

    As I’m trying to teach English to my little son, we’re singing One Fine Face (Sesame Street) every other day 🙂

    Congrats on your blog!

  15. jon

    Here in Holland we have similar taxes. I am a self-employed house-painter. I have a one-man business with no employees. I receive regular semi-threatening letters from some group called SENA that supposedly protects the rights of studio musicians who appear on recordings (NOT the singers, or songwriters, or publishing companies). They tell me that if I listen to the radio at work I am IN VIOLATION, and to avoid punishment and penalty I must pay a license fee. Well I only ever listen to BBC Radio 4 or the World Service (no music), so I figure I don’t owe them nothin’… and that’s exactly what they get.

  16. luke

    My son’s nursery, in London, had a sign up saying it was going to show two movies, which happened to have been on in the cinema at the same time! Some parents complained about this illegality and the film show was cancelled. Three of the fathers from the nursery , that I know of, work in the film business. You can’t help bumping into people in London who have a financial link to one of the creative industries that are affected by illegal downloading. Many of the blockbuster Hollywood films are partly filmed in the studios here and a ton of postproduction work for films like Avatar,is done in the West End. As a result, if you do it, it’s normally not something you’re going to shout about. On top of that, it’s cheaper to buy films and music in the UK than Spain.

Comments are closed.