Industry News, Music Business

Music Business: COSON Signs Landmark Licensing Deal With Multichoice #Licensing Agreements


AML artists, a few things here before you read the press release from COSON, first reference my article with Chris Austria about Licensing music here.

Second, remember that as a copyright holder of your music, that right is exclusive to you. But, what good is your music to you if you can’t make money off it? Indeed both Nigeria’s copyright statute, US and UK give you the right to sell your “copyright.” How you sell it becomes the issue. One way to sell your copyright is through granting a limited permission for others to use your music. This limited permission is known as “licensing.” Remember we sort of saw that issue of licensing at play with my discussion on Jason Njoku’s IROKO You Tube dependent video streaming. Offline, you would typically enter license agreements that limit the region or markets you license your music e.g. you might want a different licensor in Nigeria because that licensor knows the Nigerian market and has the connections to make you money. You wouldn’t want that licensor with absolutely no clout or connections in the USA music markets to push your music, hence limiting the geographic reach among other things. Licensing deals can be complicated and you want and should have your lawyer involved.

Finally, online, as discussed in the Spinlet (Exclusive Mobile Streaming &/Tethered  Downloads of EME’s Empire State of Mind  Album which caused huge headaches to many fans more than anything else) and IROKO scenario, you do not want to limit yourself to one platform as there are multiple streams of income (royalties) for the electronic transmission of your music.

In this instance, COSON enters into a licensing agreement with MultiChoice  owner of the subsidiary DSTV (a South African owned company) to market and sell your music through its partners, affiliates and on its platforms. There are numerous third parties COSON will and should be involved with in licensing your music. I anticipate more news of this kind as days turn into weeks and weeks into months etc.

At that time, I’d be glad to discuss more about licensing your music.

I have discussed the basics of licensing on AML before. Check out the article:

Video: Music Licensing Agreements, the Basics You Should Know



Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nations sole Collective Management Organization for musical works and sound recordings has signed a landmark multimillion Naira royalty agreement with Multichoice Nigeria, operators of DSTV. The agreement signing ceremony which held at the regal Oriental Hotel in Lagos earlier on in the week grants MultiChoice the licence to broadcast music on its various platforms.

In his address at the event witnessed by a cross section of the Nigerian media and members of the COSON Board and management, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji assured music owners of COSON’s commitment to ensuring that the music pays. He said, “You will recall that two years ago when COSON was approved by the Nigerian Copyright Commission, we made a solemn pledge to do whatever it takes to defend the rights of those who create or invest in music in Nigeria. We swore before you to end the many years of the locust. We said that whatever it takes, we will make collective management of copyright work in Nigeria… for two years COSON has worked round the clock and been everywhere at the same time. I have been asked whether COSON ever sleeps and I said no. COSON can’t afford to sleep until the abuse of the copyright in music and sound recordings are ended in Nigeria. Even then, COSON will not sleep”.

Chief Okoroji said that the deal with MultiChoice was one of the many steps COSON has taken in ensuring that it delivers on the promise made to the thousands of music owners it represents and commended MultiChoice Nigeria for complying with law. Said Chief Okoroji, “I want to thank the Multichoice Staff and Management, especially the Managing Director, Mr. John Ugbe. I can’t recall how many times John and Gozie Onumonu were at the COSON office in Ikeja, the countless hours of negotiations and the many road blocks we worked together to remove to make this possible. They have shown Multichoice to be a socially responsible organization and I commend them for their never-say-die spirit”.

Chief Okoroji also encouraged users of music to take a cue from the Management of MultiChoice Nigeria saying “All public and commercial users of music do not have to wait for a law suit before they contact COSON and obtain their licence to use music in public”.

Clarifying the issue of DSTV subscription and copyright licence, Chief Okoroji said “I am informed that someone has misled owners of hotels, restaurants and similar public establishments that the payment of their DSTV subscription authorizes them to freely play music to their customers and to the general public. There is no better place to state publicly that the payment of subscription to receive the first class signals from DSTV is not the same as a copyright licence to communicate music and sound recordings to the general public. Hotels, restaurants and similar establishments which have not done so should get in touch with COSON without delay.

Speaking on the licensing agreement with COSON, Managing Director of MultiChoice, Mr. John Ugbe said, “As a Pan-African organization that is dedicated to ensuring that Nigeria becomes a leader in entertainment in the continent, this partnership with COSON will only help in driving that leadership for Nigerian content even more on DSTV and the rest of the platforms which we have. I am very proud to state that as MultiChoice, we value intellectual property and we have always been ensuring that artistes get paid for their content, through our sister company we have invested over 200M USD buying Nigerian content and with this new agreement with music, we can only grow from here. We believe that a labourer deserves his/her wages and in our effort to renew vibrant talent emerging from Nigeria and the African continent, there is a need for this kind of partnership. We encourage other organizations to come onboard and work with structured organizations here”.

Also reacting to the COSON-MULTICHOICE Agreement, General Manager of COSON, Chinedu Chukwuji said, “What we witness here today is proof that COSON means business, we are not joking. We are ready to go all the way to ensure that the music pays those who have laboriously invested in it”.

Present at the agreement signing ceremony was Mr. Matthew Ojo, representative of the Director General, Nigerian Copyright Commission; Mrs. Ijeoma Theo, representative of the Director General, National Broadcasting Commission; Members of the COSON Board, Dr. Adewale Ayuba, Azeezat Allen and Mr. Joel Ajayi.

It will be recalled that in December 2011, COSON distributed over N26M in royalties to its members and has promised to distribute even more this year.”

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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.
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