The Relationship Between the Artist, Radio Stations and COSON

The Beat 99.9 FM Lagos came to life and took over the Nigerian airwaves, all of a sudden everyone became familiar with it as the station to tune into to listen to the latest “jams.” Yes, we all still tuned into other stations for regular programs we had grown accustomed to, but when we wanted music, it was The Beat Fm! So, why were listeners tuning in just for the music? Why did everyone jump on the bandwagon?  My answer will be that music is the easiest content that keeps listeners happy!.

Radio stations need content to help create a fan base and this fan base brings the advertisers to the station, which is how radio stations largely create revenue.Creating content isn’t as easy as it seems and like I said earlier, the easiest content for radio stations is usually to play the songs of artists. In other words, everyone is happy but what about the artists whose songs are being played? Is it all recognition for them that their song is on air or should there be more?

One of the most valuable assets an artist has is the Copyright to his/her intellectual property i.e, his creative works. The artist owns the Copyright of his musical works and for the use of such works, the law stipulates that a license must be obtained and usually compensation paid to the artist in the form of royalties.

Yes! Radio airplay is a valuable promotional platform for artists but is it right and for radio stations to exploit the use of artists’ work and not pay them royalties? NO! This is what the Copyright Society Of Nigeria(COSON) is fighting for; the right of Nigerian artists to be paid royalties for the use of their work being broadcasted via various media platforms.

COSON has been quite impressive in its bid to give the Nigerian artist a voice and get them what is rightfully theirs. The organization was set up by the Federal Government to ensure that all those who use music in a public or commercial setting obtain a license and to pay royalties to the creators of the works for such use.Therefore, as the authorized and recognized collecting society on behalf of Nigerian artistes, they were within every legal right to demand such payment from BON.

For radio stations to continue to exploit these artists’ works without compensation is an infringement of their copyright as provided by the Copyright Act of Nigeria in S.5(1)(a)(vii) and S.6(1)(a), which both basically state that Copyright in a musical work, sound recording shall be the exclusive right in Nigeria, to control the broadcasting or communicating of such work to the public.In other words, the artist has the exclusive right to control the broadcast of his music by various media platforms.

For the sake of growth of the Nigerian Music Industry, BON and COSON need to find a middle ground to work together for the benefit of the Nigerian artists.Standard royalty rates and payment methods should be decided on and let the artists get on with creating GOOD music. Emphasis are laid on the word ‘good’ because royalty payments have been observed to help promote creativity in artists.

-Ojonoka Agudah

Ojonoka Agudah

Ms. Ojonoka Agudah is an attorney licensed to practice law in Nigeria, West Africa, whose practice area focuses on Intellectual Property, Sports and Entertainment Law. A 2012 graduate of the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, Abuja, Agudah is also an Africa Music Law™ intern. Her articles will appear on Mondays and Wednesdays, now until May 2014. Comments and feedback on her articles are encouraged and highly welcomed.

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