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‘Why artistes dump record labels in Nigeria’

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Entertainment lawyer, Iredumare Opeyemi

An experienced entertainment lawyer, Iredumare Opeyemi is no stranger to the showbiz industry. In this interview, Opeyemi, who is the legal team lead for Boomplay Music, shares his robust knowledge of the music and entertainment industry in Nigeria and also gives tips to practitioners on how to thrive in the creative industry.

As a lawyer, what actually fueled your interest in entertainment law?

There was really nothing like entertainment law when I was in university.

However, the closest field to it was intellectual property law, which is simply the study of laws, policies and judicial decisions around protecting the services and products.

Due to this, what I had was interest in music, movies, and arts generally. And since I have always been fascinated by the arts, particularly music, movies and how it commands the human attention, as well as the level of micro transactional business, that became a million dollar string for businesses.
 
With my background in the field of law, the fascination and the passion, coupled with studying law and excelling in flying colours, I decided that I could and would use my knowledge of both understanding the trade and practices in the music and film business to practice law.

So there was no thought of it being the right path, I never felt it was the right path; I was just dogged and logical about my actions and choices.

What has been your experience working with talents and determining the path to success?

It’s never easy working with talents; they can be wonderful creative souls to work with, but if you cannot deal and manage expectations nor understand clearly the role you play, you will fall off.

This is because talents are creatives and to work in my field, you must be prepared to handle the dynamic mindset of creatives and the outlier attitude they have.

What do you love most about being the team lead for Boomplay Music?

I love the ability to interact with beautiful minds across Africa; a new generation of Africans willing to build markets and industries despite the challenges that predate us.

Also, I appreciate the opportunity given to m to link African and Asian music business enthusiasts, which is an opportunity to advance and develop the African music market.

What does the job require?
 
I handle content acquisition for the company. Basically, I ensure Boomplay Music is at all times in time and up to date on new and historical records of music/audio and music videos/audio-visual releases in Africa.

I also ensure that data of users, staff and third party contractors are well protected and in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

I’m also saddled with the responsibility of ensuring transparent and accountable standing in lieu of our financial responsibilities to content providers and intellectual property rights owners.

I play a vital role ensuring the company appropriate within the ambit of the law without dire consequences within Hong Kong (major) laws and respective African countries’ laws.
 
Due to my knowledge and experience in music business, I’m actively training every key member on the team across Africa on law, music and business.

I’m also with the responsibility of recruiting the best professionals in the music ecosystem across Africa.

What would be your advice to practitioners, especially the upcoming ones?

The first thing I usually tell them is, ‘you should not be desperate about this; there is much more to be done.’

Having been in the industry for quite some time, what do you feel is responsible for artistes leaving their recording deals impromptu?

Simply put, it’s the desire for more; the same reason they signed in the first place.

When an artiste’s brand is beginning to get bigger than the label, the desire to leave and run to become independent will always be an occurring thing.

Until labels begin to invest in growing their brand (both in human capacity development and outlook), alongside that of the artiste, they will always have artistes that walk away from the contract.

Is it a copyright issue if an artiste decides to use a catchphrase from another artiste’s song?

Ordinarily it is a copyright issue. However, the alleged infringing person has a lot of defence in law, which can avail such person of such infringement, which includes but not limited to public words/domains, fair usage depending on the jurisdiction where such claims arise.

How do you merge the practice of law and entertainment together, seeing that they are two different worlds?

Discipline and excellence are two qualities every lawyer must have at all times. We are required to work in several industries with different people coming from various backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles.

However, I try to separate work from fun and learn to do both simultaneously.


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