Legal Drama, Music Business

Did G-Worldwide Really Force Kiss Daniel to Perform 3 Days After his Father’s Death, & Only Pay him ₦50K (Less than 150 dollars) a Month?

Kiss Daniel‘s legal team have released yet another statement addressing the issue of his contract with his record label, G-Worldwide Entertainment.

The statement is lengthy and repeats some of the points already stated in the first exclusive the team sent AML. So I am only focusing only on two key things that stand out. They are:

  1. Daniel was allegedly paid 50,000 Naira (roughly $138 at the current exchange rate) a month.
  2. The label forced him to perform three days after his father died, and while he was trying to figure burial arrangements.

On point number one, to be fair, paying Daniel less than $150 a month is neither here nor there. As a recording artist, if you have the funds to take care of yourself, and have a higher bargaining power in your negotiations, you can elect to forego and not receive an advance from a record company, and instead negotiate for higher royalty percentages from the sales of your recorded music. Remember an advance is cash money given to you in advance against your future royalties. Meaning an advance is a recoupable expense. Think of it as a high-interest loan (although it technically isn’t) where you are the last to be paid because the label when the money comes in, has to pay the producers, manufacturers, distributors etc. and also recoup the cash money they advanced you before they pay you. So, the less advance money you receive up-front from a record company, the quicker you get paid, from a royalty standpoint, when the checks from the sale of your music start coming in.

I often say that contrary to the myth and expectations in most of Africa’s music industries, a Nigerian or African label is not there to give you a free house, free car, and free everything and you as an artist should stop expecting such from your labels.

So in fairness, depending on the terms of the contract Daniel signed, G-Worldwide is not a bad label just because they paid Daniel less than a $150.000 a month. The question is how much did they invest in Daniel? How much was the gross income Daniel brought in through the sale of his recorded music or live performances (remember Nigeria’s music industry makes its money primarily through live entertainment income)? What expenses did they cover? What was the net profit, if any left? This takes us back to the accounting issue, I previously discussed on this case which is, again, a problem for the label.

On to point two. If indeed the allegations are true, G-Worldwide comes off as a cold, inhumane and very uncaring label. How can you allegedly force/threaten an artist to perform when he is still digesting the shock of losing a parent, and trying to sort out burial arrangements? That’s simply cold.

-Ms. Uduak

AML Kiss Daniel v. Label Archived Discussions So Far

Kiss Daniel v. G-Worldwide Entertainment: Why a 7-Year Recording Deal is Bad for an Artist & Label in Nigeria

G-Worldwide Entertainment vs. Kiss Daniel: Why Daniel is Right that a Judge Never Issued an Injunction Against Him

Excerpts from Daniel’s Legal Team’s Latest Statement and my Commentary in Blue

“Kiss Daniel did not walk out of his contract. He only terminated it as he is permitted to do under the contract. Is it now a sin for a party to exercise a right expressly conferred on him by law/contract? Is it the fault of Kiss Daniel that the contract has a termination clause that allows Kiss Daniel to terminate the contract? We should bear in mind that the contract was drafted by G-Worldwide Entertainment.”

Ms. Uduak Commentary: 1) There is a concept in contract drafting that essentially says that where a term in a contract is ambiguous, a court will construe the term/contract against the person who drafted it. So when the lawyer says to bear in mind the label drafted the contract, that is an implicit point the lawyer is trying to make; 2) remember I said in my discussion on the accounting point that unless your contract expressly says you can walk out if a label does not cure a breach in the contract, you the artist may still be on the hook if you walk out. So, I would disagree with Daniel’s lawyer that he did not walk out of the contract. It can be deemed a walkout based on the facts. It can go either way.  A judge makes the final call.

“Kiss Daniel scrupulously followed the provision of the contract. It is unfortunate that people are mixing this case up with that of other artists running away from a contract they signed. No! This is different. This is a case of an Artist insisting that the contract signed by the parties must be obeyed and enforced. Kiss Daniel is (a) firm believer in rule of law and due process. This was why it was Kiss Daniel that went to court first. People should not confuse a case of (a) properly terminated the contract with cases of ill-advised artists who angrily walked out of their contract without following the laid down procedure under their contracts. Kiss Daniel’s case is a well thought out act. It is an exercise of (a) right granted to him by the contract between him and his label.”

“Is G-worldwide Entertainment Limited a proper record label? Is it a proper limited liability company? Or is it merely a one-man show without corporate structure, office and supporting staff? Can anybody name the A & R officer of G-worldwide Entertainment Limited?”

Ms. Uduak Commentary: I fail to see the relevance of this inquiry and consider it a personal attack on the label. Yes, the company should be incorporated. Yes, the company should have a staff etc. However,  a small label is not necessarily required to have a brick and mortar office to be deemed legitimate. The small label owner can have a virtual office and rent office spaces to see clients until it can get to a point to have their own office. What is the relevance of this? Also, from the beginning of time till now, many western labels (big and small) are routinely accused of improper accounting by their talents. These labels have large fancy physical offices, A&R etc. so why do they end up in drawn-out court battles etc. for alleged scrupulous practices? This is the 21st century and traditional ideas of what success looks like have been disrupted. Focus on the issue i.e. an alleged lack of accounting by the label.

“…Based on the above breaches (failure to allow unrestricted access and to make copies of the books of account as provided in clause 7 of the Record contract), Kiss Daniel’s lawyers gave G-worldwide Entertainment Limited 14 days’ notice to remedy the breach as provided by Clause 16 of the Contract and when they failed to do so within the 14 days, the Artist through his lawyer proceeded to terminate the contract as provided in clause 14.2 of the contract, which provides that:

“Either party may terminate this contract by written notice to the other at any time if that other party:

(a)commits a breach of this contract and, in the case of a breach capable of remedy, he fails to remedy the breach within fourteen (14) days of being required to do so in writing.”

Ms. Uduak Commentary: AML artists and other industry professionals, the most important part of any contract you enter into is the termination clause. Always take the time to think through how a relationship will end, and what your options are for getting out. For my analysis on how the termination clause potentially affects Kiss Daniel and his label, click here.

“Unfortunately, when Kiss Daniel’s lawyer gave G-worldwide Entertainments Limited notice of the breach on 11th and 19th of September 2017, G-worldwide Entertainments Limited failed and refused to cure and remedy the breach within the 14 days allowed by the contract and Kiss Daniel was forced to comply with the contract by terminating it as required by the contract.

This termination, therefore, was not only in obedience to law and the contract between the parties but was also a self-defence by Kiss Daniel to prevent “baboon dey work, monkey dey chop”. Why is G-worldwide Entertainments Limited afraid of rendering accounts? Should Kiss Daniel continue to work under G-worldwide Entertainments Limited and receive whatever was given to him without allowing his accountant to audit the books? Is it an offence for an artist to enforce the rights granted him by the contract drafted by the Record label?”

“Contract or Slavery? This is the same label that forced Kiss Daniel to perform few days after his father’s death and while still in the village trying to give his father a befitting burial. They put money first. They insisted he must interrupt his father burial rites and must perform or they will crush him in the industry.”

Ms. Uduak Commentary: I think this is inflammatory and was unnecessary for the lawyer to share this. Look out for my article on Daniel and G-Worldwide’s Lawyer mistakes in the handling of this case so far. If this is true, G-Worldwide has a PR nightmare on their hands and sadly, they created the problem. This looks bad and is very cold and uncaring.

“This is the same Label that was paying Kiss Daniel only 30k and later 50k per month for about two years despite Kiss Daniel’s performing at several shows and making millions of naira for the label within the same period! Yet, Kiss Daniel never create any noise or scandal. How many Nigerian Artist can tolerate for so long what Kiss Daniel has endured without creating any scandal?”

 Ms. Uduak Commentary: I already addressed this. It all depends on the contract Kiss Daniel signed. It is not about how many artists can “tolerate” Daniel’s situation. It is about what Daniel signed. If you do not consult a lawyer before you sign a crappy deal, it is what it is. Get a lawyer to try to fix your mess and get you out of the contract like Kiss Daniel is doing.

“Is G-Worldwide A Record Label? What is the main characteristic of a record label? One of the main duty of a record label is to advance money to the artist for purposes of recording. Yet the so-called record label does not pay advance and as never pay advance to Kiss Daniel.”

Ms. Uduak Commentary: Advances are optional and not mandatory. While record labels do typically advance monies to artists, especially emerging ones, many of them are larger labels. As you narrow the spectrum to indie labels, depending on the label, different business models emerge, and an artist can choose to forego an advance, or a label decides not to give an advance based on their budget but work out a different favourable compensatory scheme. Another common scenario, especially in the Nigerian and African markets, is that labels set aside a recording fund to pay for all of the recording costs of the artist. The label does not give this money directly to the artist because they are afraid the artist will take their money and abscond, or give them poor quality output in work ethic and music. They instead monitor and pay recording expenses out of the fund. So, the real question is who paid for Daniel’s recording, his image branding, food, hotel, lodging, transportation, personal and general upkeep, among other things?

The so-called record label did not pay a penny (kobo) towards the recording of all songs in the alleged album, “Evolution”! The songs in the alleged album include already released hits like “sofa”, “Yeba” and several others. No payment of advance, no payment for studio sessions or productions generally and yet G-Worldwide are shamelessly laying claim to songs produced singlehandedly by the Artist. He is indeed a patient dog.

I hate to get technical here but we have to. Did the label pay for the recording of some songs? What did Kiss Daniel sign and what are the specifics of what the label has paid? This again brings us to the accounting issue. The label can’t get around the accounting issue and Daniel through his lawyer is smart to stick it to them in that way. Now it is for the label’s lawyer to figure how to deal with that issue.

 

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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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