You may have heard about the ban issued against certain music artists in Nigeria by the Broadcasting Association of Nigeria and many have questioned the reasoning behind the action. One person who has outwardly stated his views is veteran artist and Trybe Records CEO, Olanrewaju Dabiri popularly known as eLDee the Don. He just issued a detailed statement airing his views on facebook. See it below:
According to wikipedia, “Cutting off the nose to spite the face” is an expression used to describe a needlessly self-destructive over-reaction to a problem, or pursuing revenge in a way that would damage oneself more than the object of one’s anger.
You may have heard of the recent ban by Broadcast organisation of Nigeria (BON) and Independent broadcasters association of Nigeria (IBAN) of nigerian artists who belong to the copyright society of Nigeria (COSON) on all radio stations. There have been various official and unofficial responses, arguments and different positions on the issue. While this may seem like a random occurence, I personally believe there is no better time to tackle the issue of intellectul property rights and exploitation than now, if we wish to save our industry from further cannibalism. The only way to true sustainability is to find a middle ground, one that favors all parties involved, as everyone will ultimately suffer a negative consequence if we don’t find a resolution.
Some of the arguments I have heard include “why should we (radio & TV) pay for the use of music when we are the ones promoting the artists?”, “why is coson harrassing establishments that use music for their businesses”, “how do we (radio and TV) know if the money actually gets to the artists after we pay coson?”. While these could be considered valid arguments, the fundamental issue remains that radio, TV, and every business that uses music ought to pay for the music they use by law. Without this stream of revenue, there is little or no sustainability for the people creating the music and content been exploited.
Further, royalty payments are due to creators, according to Nigerian law, but because people who use music have gotten away with not paying for it for so long, it has become the norm to not pay. You must agree that it is illegal to take that stand, because it is part of the law of the land to pay such royalties.
I may be wrong but I’m guessing the ban was intended to force artists to delist from COSON, so all the local music can be free to the broadcasters, to continue to exploit the content as they please without compensation to the owners/creators. But any discerning artist will understand this plot, and it should be clearer now that the COSON battle is more in the interest of the musicians. Whether COSON is asking for some pennies or a billion dollars is another story entirely, and that can be debated at a different forum. And If that was the reason for the ban, all I can say is wow!
A nice journalist sent me the question below, I hope my answer helps to get a better perspective on the real issue at hand. It is important to state that I am not fighting only for my individual right as a creator, I have had a pretty good run and should be taking a bow from active performance shortly 🙂 Neither am I trying to point the finger of blame at any particular organisation, I am simply stating facts, and comparing them to recent events an how it all affects the sustainability of an industry that I have invested a lot of precious time, sweat, and blood to build. It would also be nice to recieve some residual income from all the work we have put in the last decade, or for as long as our works are exploited.
Question: I saw your an article written about you and your position on the BON/IBAN artist ban. Do you truly believe that artists will not be effected?
Answer: I never stated that artists won’t be affected. My comments suggest that EVERYONE will be affected by the ban, and negatively. What I meant is that the ban will affect artists, but will affect radio listenership as well.
People have the perception that musicians need radio, and yes they are absolutely right, but radio needs music too, no? Radio plays music to keep listeners engaged so that they can sell advertising, so when I see people acting like the music has no value to radio, and it can be ignored, I wonder how they make sense of that. That value that music adds to radio is what needs to be determined, and a price attached to it. I don’t think the ban was well thought out. Why take a position that truly doesn’t benefit anyone on the long run?
I am not against radio stations or BON/IBAN questioning COSON about the billing or sharing formula, I am against radio stations who do not want to pay ANYTHING AT ALL for the music that they use. The suggestion that if you do not play certain artists, new artists will emerge is draconian, and suggests abuse of power, especially when COSON is not acting illegally. So what happens when the new artists become successful and demand to be paid royalties, you ban them again?
If the argument is about how much to pay, I’m sure there can be resolution. When you attempt to sabotage the efforts of an organisation that is trying to protect the legal rights of hard working Nigerians doing honest business, then I have to ask why? If there are personal issues with individuals within the organisations, there is a way to handle that, and its surely not by banning specific artists music all together, simply because they want to be paid for their hard work.
We can not under-estimate the contribution of BON/IBAN and the radio stations to the development of Nigerian music, neither can we underestimate the power of the music and its creators. We have to acknowledge the fact that COSON is acting in the interest of people who create the music that we all exploit for personal and business use. Everyone wants a pat on the back for their contribution, but it ought to be a symbiotic relationship between IBAN, BON, COSON, Radio stations, and musicians. We should all be on the same side. The fact that radio stations have gotten used to not paying anything for the use of music is wrong and must be corrected, because this is one of the few streams of income in this market, that provides sustainability for creative talent. Let the organisations sit down and discuss how much ought to be paid, however, we must all agree that there should be payment for the use and exploitation of music.
Pls follow me on twitter, I talk a lot, hopefully I make a little sense: @eLDeethedonby