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Unmasking a new villain in the fight against piracy in Nigeria


I think it’s really ironic that when we talk about piracy in Nigeria, all we talk about are the traders in markets like Alaba and other places. For almost everyone in the Nigerian music industry, entertainment writers, and even the government, music piracy seems to start and end with local merchants in retail markets playing people’s songs without paying royalties to musicians. Nothing can be further from the truth!

As a fervent supporter of the industry and shareholder who has invested millions in the careers of many artists in the last 2 years, I am of the opinion that we have all allowed ourselves to feed the red herrings and misdirection of piracy that are probably taking place. . due to ignorance, fear or simple deception of our leaders in this fight.

As we can all testify, radio stations are a very important part of our entertainment and music life in Nigeria. With over 300 radio stations blaring music 24 hours a day, I remain puzzled that we are concerned about Alaba royalties when real money must be chased on radio and television stations. After all, the law is very clear that royalties MUST be paid to different copyright owners each time music is played on the air.

Radio stations, by definition, are great consumers of musical works. The programming of most radio stations has more than 90% music. The main thing they are selling to the public is music. Listeners tune in to stations like Rhythm FM Wazobia, Classic FM, Eko FM, Inspiration FM, etc. mainly to listen to music. Advertising companies and companies also advertise on radio stations because they are reaching their target market with music. Radio stations will die overnight without music for their listeners. For us to understand the critical component of music for radio stations, try imagining a Rhythm FM, Classic FM, Raypower, or Wazobia FM without playing music for just a month. I guarantee that EVERYONE will be out of business long before then. However, what efforts are these stations making to pay appropriate royalties to those who use their talents and resources to create this music?

Now the irony of all of this is that while these radio stations budget billions of Naira each year for salaries, fuel, transportation, repairs, equipment, etc., they hardly mention paying royalties to local artists in their budget allocations. . If they did, the artists do not know or have not felt it. I think the time is right for us to publicly challenge these radio stations on how much they spend as operating expenses each year and what percentage of that goes towards paying for the biggest raw material (i.e. music) that they have been using to prepare their programming.

For those who may still need context to understand just how big this overlooked elephant is, I’ll give you the example of a CAR DEALER. The main thing the car dealer sells is cars. Now imagine a car dealer budgeting for the year with no car buying budget! Or imagine a fashion designer store budgeting for the year without providing a budget for clothing fabrics. Or better yet, imagine a newspaper company that plans a budget without considering the purchase of newsprint. Yet that is what is happening in the boardrooms of most Nigerian radio stations. They just take music for granted simply because most of our artists are ignorant and desperate for their music to be played.

So the royalty payment for music played on radio stations remained a big elephant in the radio room that we have ignored for years in this country and I think it’s time someone started tackling this gigantic elephant if we will ever have equity. and justice in this country.

While the fight against the Alaba pirates is certainly good, I think a more rewarding war against piracy should be declared against radio stations and music-based TV shows in 2011. This fight is a much better fight for artists and management companies because the chances of winning and getting paid is much higher than fighting ghosts and vicious pirates without faces that nobody seems to identify. Radio stations, on the other hand, have identifiable names and owners. Radio stations are regulated by the government which can force them to do the right thing. Radio stations are physical entities that can be the target of pickets and boycotts. So why do we leave the elephant without feeding in the radio rooms while we chase ghosts in Alaba? I think the resources of the government, artists, lawyers and fundraising societies should be focused on radio stations and music and television shows in 201. We have a better chance of winning that fight!

So I suggest that instead of COSON’s Chief Tony Okoroji and MCSN’s Mr. Mayo Ayilaran parting ways on the issue of who should collect the royalties, they should come together to make sure our radio stations feed the big elephant. in radio rooms. across the country. I also suggest that if the new NIGERIAN COPYRIGHT COMMISSION wants to write its name down in history, it should ‘enter’ radio rooms across the country with the proper regulations and demand that the elephant be fed on artists’ royalties. Nigerians …

Of course, I understand that many of the big names in the music industry are too afraid to stand up to radio stations and demand justice due to their reasonable fear that their artists may be blacklisted by these radio stations. , but I think this fight can be depersonalized if the WHOLE industry joins the fight with a concerted effort using all legal means at our disposal, including the machinery of the state, lawsuits, boycotts, sit-ins and pickets from any station that refuse to do the right thing …


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