As in other years, since its institution in 1982, this year’s World Music Day offers stakeholders in the music industry an opportunity to reflect on the importance of music and how it touches our social, cultural, economic, political and spiritual lives. It is the universal language of life that defies all boundaries and redefines our common humanity.
At no time has this borderless spirit of music being so pronounced as in today’s online music distribution and streaming networks with their capacity for instant content delivery. With the possibilities offered by digital manipulation, music has also become susceptible to all forms of exploitation and raw material for other creative works. The theme for this year, “Music at Intersections” succinctly captures this delicate web.
Music is created by individuals or groups of individuals while its management and transmission must necessarily involve numerous other players; but the recompense for its commercial exploitation must always return to the creator. It is also important for society to bear in mind that music is not simply a work of art or an object of entertainment or an expression of our collective cultural identity. It is also an economic commodity that should benefit the right owners as much as it gives pleasure to its listeners. It therefore behooves us to ensure that music is exploited in a responsible manner that guarantees the sustainable growth of the industry and benefits the musician.
From Rex Lawson, Osita Osadebey, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Christie Essien Igbokwe, King Sunny Ade, Onyeka Onwenu, Victor Uwaifo, Dan Maraya Jos, Bongos Ikwue to Wiz Kid, Burna Boy, D’Banj, 2Face, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade Omawumi and many others, Nigeria has never lacked great musicians of international repute. While acknowledging that they rule the airwaves and contribute significantly to many other businesses as well as the country’s GDP, more should be done at the intersections to increase the return on the physical and intellectual investments that go into the creation of good music.
The copyright system remains a veritable tool for easing friction on the tracks on which music runs. For music to play seamlessly and adequately reward investors at every intersection, it is important to have a functional, responsive and supportive copyright system that does not only protect rights but also promotes licensing and the secondary exploitation of rights in a fair and equitable manner.
As the Nigerian Copyright Commission joins the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s World Music Day, we are pleased with the recent passage by the Senate of a new Copyright Bill which should help troubleshoot some of the problems identified at the intersections, such as the new technologies, digital manipulations, unconventional business models, regulatory issues and the imperatives for better collective management of rights, effective sanctions against infringements and appropriate support structures.
As we join in celebrating this year’s World Music Day, the Commission renews its commitment to work with national and international stakeholder groups to overhaul the copyright side of the music industry and strengthen its regulatory and enforcement mandates to ensure that right owners benefit more from the global exploitation of their works.
The Commission will continue to support approved CMOs to better enforce rights, monitor uses and collect the revenue due to them while insisting on reasonable tariffs, good governance, accountability and fair distribution of royalties to right owners.
In furtherance of its policy to support CMOs and bridge the gaps between the volume of usage and royalty collections, the Commission is already facilitating discussions between the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN), as the approved CMO for music, and the DeeJays Association of Nigeria (DJAN). Similar interventions will be extended to other approved CMOs in other sectors to promote win-win outcomes. The Commission will also be reviewing the Copyright (Collective Management Organisations) Regulations 2007 to address new challenges at the intersections, in line with local realities and global best practices.
Finally, as we reflect on music at various intersections, the Commission would again urge all approved CMOs to embrace technology-based solutions in the monitoring, collection and distribution of royalties. They should also subscribe to the acceptable standards of transparency, accountability, efficient management, good corporate governance and respect for the law without which they would become a hindrance to the smooth inflow of revenue for the right owners they represent. The primary duty of a responsible CMO is to help right owners earn more from the use of their works and provide legally safe space for users to maximise their exploitation of those works upon payment of agreed royalties. The copyright ecosystem must therefore promote this healthy and balanced symbiotic relationship that would grow the industry for the greater good of the majority.
On this optimistic note, I wish all musicians, producers, service providers, music enthusiasts and all lovers of music a wonderful World Music Day, 2022!
Dr. John O. Asein