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Govt should intervene in royalty, piracy matters to save Nigerian music

By Anote Ajeluorou
31 December 2009   |   3:43 am
GOVERNMENT has once again been called upon to take the issues of royalty and piracy seriously so as to prevent Nigerian music from going the way of the home video industry currently battling for survival. The call came on the heels of a recent open letter to Mr. Adebambo Adewopo, the Director-General of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) in a paid advertorial by a consortium of copyright owners in the music business. They had called on the commission's D-G to halt what they called "corporate piracy" so as to save the industry from being cheated and undermined corporate pirates by issuing licenses to copyright collecting bodies. They had argued that the failure of the commission to name agencies to so act on their behalf was robbing them and the nation of billions of naira in revenues and taxes.

In the same vein, an artiste manager Mr. Justice Cletus has also lent his voice to the call for royalty for artistes by corporate Nigeria in view of its strategic importance to a healthy music industry. Cletus said his concern for royalty became urgent as he was now a critical stakeholder in the industry coming as it did after he recently held a dance party for Idol the new artiste on his label. Idol’s new CD titled Jump 4 Money is billed for release in February 2010.


Cletus, who has Nigerian and Ghanaian parentage, said government was far removed from the reality in the creative industry and had left its role of critical intervention undone to the detriment of creative artistes of various shades. He stated that royalties was a crucial challenge the music industry was facing and that if not checked artistes and the economy stood to lose a lot.

“Government through the Ministries of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation and Information and Communications should do more to promote artistes,” he admonished. “Government should make local media (TV and radio stations, banks, mobile phone companies, hotel, etc) pay royalty to artistes. Artistes are not getting the value due them. Royalty should be collected and paid to artistes to help them grow.

Cletus also canvassed for traditional piracy to be stamped out by encouraging them to legitimise their businesses so artistes could benefit from their activities. He argued that since pirates had well-organised distribution networks, it would be wise to work with them rather fight them. Fighting them, he opined, had proved counter-productive over the years as artistes suffered while the fight lasted without any agreeable end in sight.

While giving credit to Nigerian artistes for making the continent proud with the distinctive style of music they were making, Cletus also regretted the urge to go outside the country to shoot music videos. But he was quick to ask government to take a critical appraisal of the development as it meant that foreign exchange was being siphoned out of the country. He said government needed to take a close look at reasons cited for the development like poor facilities or dilapidated ones, cost of doing business at home and insecurity usually and take proactive measures to address them.

“We need to encourage people to be proud of what we have here and showcase it to the world,” Cletus summed up. The artiste manager also called on more corporate bodies to organise, sponsor or support music concerts or events as a way of creating space for artistes and getting more of them to be engaged. Such measures, he noted, would give artistes more platforms to perform and to encourage youth on the path of creativity rather than crime or other delinquent behaviour

Moreover, the availability of hologram for identity, tracking and monitoring recorded music, Cletus also opined, would go a long way in stemming the spate of piracy. The system, he maintained, would erase the usual distrust between artistes, managers, record labels and CD duplicating plants and instill confidence in the entire music chain to the satisfaction of all.

Of significance was the high regard Cletus said Nigerian artistes were garnering at the international music scene. He posited that the music had come of age as it was on international cable TVs across Africa, America and Europe. He stated that the artistes were indirectly selling Nigeria across the globe in a positive manner and so needed to be supported to do more.

While making comparison between Nigerian and Ghanaian music, the artiste manager, media practitioner and event manager said the strength was in the area of collaboration rather than in the difference. He traced the genesis of Ghanaian music to have evolved from highlife, which became the dominant music across Africa at its height because of its natural instrumentation and vocal strength.

Now, however, Cletus stated that a transformation had taken over to signal a fusion called ‘hiplife’, a blending of instrumentation with local language. He named Reggie Rockstone as being the originator of the new fusion that has become the music vogue that Ghanaians warmly embraced. Ghanaian music, he said, had come of age too as its artistes were winning various awards with their mastery of high breed from highlife.

Also, Cletus stressed that collaborative effort between Nigerian and Ghanaian artistes (like the one between 2face and Rockstone) had become the vogue and that it was yielding results in the eclectic music going to the world from Africa.

Managing his new artistes Idol, he noted, was tough, hectic and an intensive venture made difficult by the global financial situation. But Cletus, however, stated that the resources put into managing Idol so far would position him to perform competitively and stay on top as the next guy in the block.

With Spring Music Productions Ltd as label, Cletus said Idol’s chances of succeeding in the industry were “bright as he is coming out with so much energy, dynamism, and packaging, which have been put into his music to excel; he cannot fail with the strong management behind him.” Moreover, Cletus cited Idol’s “personal charisma, tenacity, courage and skill as ingredients, which all artistes pray to have to excel in music business”.

Idol, who was born Jeremiah Chibuzor Njoku, has Jump 4 Money as his title track. At the listening and dance party at Ikeja GRA early in the month, he performed Jump 4 Money along with ‘Club time’ and ‘Degbeme girl’. Other tracks in the CD include “Onye mmemme’, ‘Westside pool’, ‘Show me’, ‘My daddy’, and ‘Make me cry’. Tagged Afropop, Idol said at the party that his music was committed to alleviating the plight of the downtrodden and giving a voice to the voiceless as the suffering masses motivated him to sing.

Idol’s vigorous dance steps, audience involvement and good use of stage earned applause.