Law & Policy, Music Business

Eva Rebrands to Evaezi: Eva v. Eva, Nayo v. Nayo, Wizkid v Wizboy – Artists Do not Copy Existing Names, Choose Your Own Unique Name

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Who was here first? Eva the singer or Eva the rapper? I remember receiving a press solicitation for a feature late last year from Eva the singer and being confused because I was pretty sure Eva was not a singer but a rapper. When I looked closely at the solicitation, I was even more convinced there was an issue because Eva the rapper could not have experienced all that was stated in her request for a feature. She was still so young!I finally got clarity that what  I received was from Eva the singer, who also, inconsistently, uses “D’Diva” next to her use of  ‘Eva.” I archived that experience and moved on with the business at hand.

Subsequently, I was visiting Notjustok.com about May 2011 when I saw a headline about NAYO’s new music. I was pretty surprised because I was pretty sure the NAYO I knew was retired. If she came back, why did she not announce it to the press, given the level she was operating on before she left? When I clicked through, I found it was actually a new singer on the block using the same name. Talk about confusion!I again archived that experience and kept it moving. It turns out NAYO #1 had a registered trademark and NAYO #2, it appears, got the hint and changed her name to reflect a new name.

Finally, on yet another occasion, I saw a music post on a different site about an artist called Wizboy. I was confused. Wizkid and Wizboy were too close for my liking, especially in the Nigerian market. I just thought, “you know what I am just confused. I’ll pass.”

I was about to pass again on a recent situation until I received this press release saying Eva the singer was re-branding her name and image. I knew it was time to address this issue.

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Folks, the topic at hand is the ability of each and every Nigerian and African artist out there to  come up with their own creative and unique name  i.e. choose a name that is different from an existing name. You cannot and should not copy a name that is already in existence.

To answer my first question in my intro., Eva the singer clearly came before Eva the rapper. So, even if all of Eva the rapper’s  high school friends and family have been calling her Eva since she was a baby, Eva the rapper arguably should have checked and done her due diligence to make sure there is no Eva the singer. Plus, when Eva the rapper discovered there was an Eva the singer, she should have, arguably, re-branded her name.

Clearly you guys can see why a new artist should use a name different from an existing artist. If you don’t, let’s break it down.

Why Should You Choose Your Own Name Rather than Choose a Name Already in Existence by Your Colleague?

NOTE: There is no evil versus bad person here. Further, this is not directed at the artist Eva whose work, style and everything I love. This is to underscore what is turning out to be a serious problem as we continue to grow as an industry. I tend to be direct when I take on issues  or individual’s conduct, statement etc. so it is usually clear when I take issue with persons, organizations etc.

In this instance, everyone is in the same boat and the industry is still learning. Most of Nigeria’s entertainment industry do not know Nigeria’s laws on the books and many do not have the business skills to think long term, even where they do not know the law. They just want to make music, make the fans happy, “shayo” where applicable and live the good life as a result of their hard work.

So, let’s go back to why all Nigerian and other African artists reading this should have their own unique name and not an existing name of fellow music colleagues.

1. You avoid brand confusion. You confuse the media, fans, vendors and other third parties you do business with when you copy an existing name. In our Eva example, it is confusing to everyone which Eva we refer to. Eva the singer has to say she is not Eva the rapper and vice-versa? Plus, Eva the singer did not consistently say Eva D’ Diva.

2. You avoid forcing your colleague to go through the extreme expense of having to re-brand his/her name. Eva is changing her name. Her reasons stated is because she has matured inter-personally etc. But, assuming one of the biggest reason is the confusion of Eva the rapper with Eva the singer, Eva the singer  has now undertaken a huge expense to re-brand everything which includes:

  • New name. This is the toughest thing. All that name recognition goes out the window.
  • New website
  • New image
  • New merchandise (apparel, hats, shoes etc.)
  • New CDs with new name
  • Re-educating and informing all fans who typically get lost in the mix
  • Finding her music identity again. Changing your name mid-career is like changing your personal identity completely. You have to find your voice, your musical identity all over again, when done at the stage Eva the singer is, it can be very risky and costly business. Again, these things might not apply to Eva the singer but often it applies to many artists in similar situations.

3. You avoid your colleague, if he/she has a registered trademark, forcing you to have to go through the extreme expense of changing your name half way because you did not do your homework. The argument above works the other way too.

International Considerations: As Nigerian artists do business overseas, copying the name of another existing artist could be a real problem. Assume there is Beyonce the singer  in Nigeria.What happens if Beyonce in Nigeria signs a music deal like D’Banj did with Kanye’s GOOD  music in the USA? Clearly Beyonce the American singer would not like that.  It would create brand confusion plus it would affect any US label and distributor that wants to do business with Beyonce the Nigerian singer. So, again people, think and choose unique names, not existing names because down the line, you have to overcome the trademark hurdle, plus it is bad for business.

CONCLUSION

For all artists, when you decide you want to become a musician so you can sell CDs, merchandise etc., you need to pick a unique name and register your name with Nigeria’s Trademark Office. You should contact an entertainment lawyer in Nigeria to this for you.

Before you do so, be informed. You need to understand the basics to catch the mistakes that could appear when you hire professionals to handle your business. If you do not know the basics, you will not catch the mistakes. This could cost you a lot of money and headaches.

Check out this site for the breakdown of Nigeria’s Trademark Laws. Most importantly, visit the trademark law website to browse through. Get an entertainment lawyer folks. Information on the internet might not be current. So start first with your lawyer.

IMAGE RE-BRANDING: Speaking of re-branding, Evaezi, what exactly is your new image re-branding saying? I am unclear with the picture. What are you communicating? Sex? If, so, the hand on the breast is a bit too harsh. It could be a lot more sensual. Also, while the hair and features are great, kilonshele (what’s up) with the wardrobe. Not flattering on your body shape especially the bra top. Please explain what you are were trying to achieve on the image re-branding?

Cheers,
Uduak

Excerpt from THE RELEASE

“Singer extraordinaire ‘EVA’ rebrands, changes Name and brand image
It is with great joy and excitement that Sonorous Singer, Creative Writer, Events Consultant/Manager, soon to be Actress and Public speaker; EVA (D’DIVA) and her team announces to her wonderfully faithful and supportive friends and fans as well as distinguished members of the press and the general public that as a result of personal evolution as well as the maturing state of her multi-faceted brand, she will be dropping the English stage name (EVA) which she has been known for professionally and proudly taking up her native name EVAEZI pronounced ( AY – VAY – ZEE ) meaning ‘A PURE AND HONEST HEART / SOUL’ in the Isoko speaking part of Delta State. . .”

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Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law blog and podcast show by Fashion and Entertainment Lawyer Ms. Uduak Oduok empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia.

Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the prestigious Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.
For legal representation inquiries, please email (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). For blog related inquiries i.e. advertising, licensing, or guest interview requests, please email (africamusiclaw@gmail.com). Thank you for visiting Africa Music Law™.

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3 Comments

  1. Hi. Great article as usual. What happens in a situation where two upcoming artistes have the same name? Or names that sound alike? Neither one would willingly give up their name. What would you advise?

  2. Africamusiclaw says:

    @Jabz- "Neither one would willingly give up their name" shows a battle of egos and makes no business sense. They are "upcoming artistes" the smartest of the two will and should change names. Now is the time to do so and also register the new trademarked name to avoid future infringers.r nr nAlways good to consult an entertainment lawyer to help with this. The points discussed in my article still apply.r nr nThanks for the comment.r nr nCheers,r nUduak

  3. Thank you.

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