Mr Sadighi, let's imagine the following situation: your label comes to an agreement with an artist, and nothing stands in the way of producing a record. But there's still the matter of obtaining the necessary permit from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (Ershad). Have you encountered problematic cases like this before?
Ramin Sadighi: I completely disagree with artists having to get a permit from the ministry because things like that are not only directed against the work of an artist, but against society as a whole...
Excuse me for interrupting you at this point, but what official channels does an artist have to go through in order to finally obtain the necessary permit?
Sadighi: There are three hurdles: if the type of artistic product we're talking about is song, then the whole thing first has to be passed by a so-called "song panel". They won't permit anything that insults Islam or any political content.
And therein lies the problem: a lot of artists in Iran today want to use their songs to address social problems in their country, and if the song panel doesn't agree with certain points, you don't get a permit. The decision also depends on which "evaluation team" the panel assigns. You can never say exactly where the boundaries between what's allowed and what is forbidden are going to be.
What about classical songs? Do you encounter similar problems there?
Sadighi: Yes. There are some songs about love, like for example some works by Molana (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi). It's often ruled that one verse or another has to be left out.
And what happens once you have actually managed to get a permit from the song panel?
Sadighi: After that, the musical product as a whole has to be approved in order for it to be released. The entire artistic endeavour is gone over by the "music committee". If you get over that hurdle, the music can finally be produced. But in the course of production, there can also be personal checks on the artist.