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The rise of Nigeria’s film industry over the past decade has been phenomenal. Nollywood annually produces more films than Hollywood, and the sector is estimated to be worth over £2 billion.
Similarly, Nigeria’s music business is growing rapidly, and gaining worldwide attention along the way. Record sales have more than tripled in half a decade (it’s reported that over 550 albums are produced each year), and stakeholders have projected the industry’s worth to climb towards £1 billion by 2016.
But iKE Onuorah, CEO of Strictly Entertainment Music, told AB2020 that whilst Nigeria’s entertainment market is thriving, there are underlying infrastructural challenges, including legal and copyright issues that are stunting the country’s economic potential in this arena.
Below, he identifies four key factors that – if addressed – would elevate Nigeria’s creative industries on to a fair and sustainable platform for all whom it affects. iKE says this isn’t a call to replicate Western methods for Nigeria’s entertainers. It’s simply about implementing strategies to ensure future generations are educated, empowered and remunerated to a well-deserved, and world-class standard.
1. The Legal System:
Nigeria has one of the most advanced and respected legal systems in Africa that incorporates IP Law (intellectual property law). That said, the rapid growth of the creative industries poses numerous challenges in a country where the majority of the administrative participants within the industry have very little understanding of copyright law and how to protect such rights due to a of lack of education, it not being relevant enough and poor implementation at the highest level.
In a country where Entertainment Law (law that deals with media of all types i.e. TV, film, music, publishing, advertising, internet and news media, etc.) is not taught at any academic level, the industry finds itself at the mercy of the few entertainment lawyers that have studied abroad, alongside a portion of the country’s IP lawyers (most of whom have no particular specialist qualification in Entertainment Law, but find themselves working in the field) to tackle and implement change; learning on the job whilst trying to cater for this growing and demanding industry.
Despite music being embedded in the country’s national identity, it has only been in the past 15 years that the industry has started to take shape, post 1990 when the Patents and Designs Act of Nigeria was introduced, providing a framework outlining how these rights would be protected from a legal perspective.
As a result, the government and industry stakeholders find themselves under immense pressure to introduce reforms that will reshape the entertainment industry.
Like most of the world, the educated and informed are in the minority regarding emerging business opportunities, and the Nigerian music industry is no different. For centuries, music has played a key role in society mostly as a backdrop aiding political, religious, cultural and social advancement with no real business element to aid its existence.
As a result, introducing and enforcing new laws that suddenly alter the way people use and experience music becomes problematic when asking them to change a habit of a lifetime (the notion of infringing on one’s copyright is alien to the common man and far-fetched from their everyday life).
And so one of the key solutions is education. There needs to be ongoing, targeted awareness campaigns to gradually change the public’s mind set. This could be achieved via video and audio commercials, print material and debates. The subject matter should also be incorporated into daily broadcast shows and any other medium that engages with the public.
One example is the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON)’s Let the Music Pay campaign introduced some years back alongside COSON WEEK (comprising activities across the industry once a year, spreading awareness). Another example is the UK Nollywood movie Urban Rhythm released in 2013. The film’s plot addresses the importance of contracts and just how easy it is to get shafted in the industry, and does so in a humorous, simplistic yet entertaining way.
There’s also a brilliant book titled Nigerian Music Industry and the Law – a Nigerian Artist Guide to Success in the Music Business, written by business, fashion and entertainment lawyer Ms Uduak Oduok, who also posts a podcast on her website, Africa Music Law.
Another key element is training on the ground, in the shape of mini courses, master classes, workshops, and trade missions for those currently working in the industry. These can deliver the type of education that can be implemented immediately and in some cases yield short-term and long-term results. This is one area in which our company Strictly Entertainment Music (SEM) plays a key role amongst UK-African music businesses. We were recently in Africa delivering seminars via our corporate responsibility programme The Afrobeats Educational Roadshow (TAER), which involves bringing industry experts from Western music businesses to interact with African music businesses to share knowledge with a view to create partnerships.
Other solutions could include local universities partnering with international institutions that offer modules or courses on music business as well as penetrating international music markets as an exchange programme. This could reduce the initial cost of running full-time courses locally, and provide the Ministry of Education with time to initiate these courses as part of their offering, building on top of the blueprint.
3. Infrastructure and Systems:
This is another key area that requires further development in order for the industry to reach its full potential. In the UK, before any music can be sold in the market it must be registered and plugged into the system so that all transactions surrounding it are recorded and reported. This data provides clear evidence of the annual contribution the industry makes to the overall British economy (sales, consumer behavior, market trends, employment statistics, growth, investment opportunities, etc), giving the industry greater position amid the government’s annual investment programmes.
Additionally, all businesses in the UK that use music as a form of background to aid in selling products or services must have a license permitting them to do so; whether that be a hair salon, barber shop, restaurant, shopping centre, club, pub, supermarket, broadcast station, hotel, etc). They must obtain a license from the Performing Rights Society (PRS) or the Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) to play music or risk being shut down and fined.
It would be impossible and unfair to apply this system in its entirety in Nigeria due to poor understanding, insufficient information and above all an undeveloped system. So the country is taking the right steps towards change by targeting the big corporations (i.e. broadcast stations, hotel chains, cinema houses and shopping centers), as law suits against such establishments are more likely to aid in greater awareness, plus set a president in changing the law.
That said, even this has proven problematic; as experienced by COSON in 2012 when they clashed with the Broadcasters Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and the Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN) on the non payment of outstanding royalties. Although the case was eventually settled out of court in 2014 with all stakeholders coming to an agreement, it demonstrates the complex challenges and power monopolist enterprises try to exert on the system to this day.
Other advancements come in the form of the Nigerian Copyright Council (NCC), which has been playing its part in pursuing cartel copyright infringers by bringing them to justice. Lastly, another significant and much welcomed addition is health insurance recently introduced by the Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN). For the first time, a registered member plus four members of their family will be entitled to health care via the PMAN biometric ID card, which also has an ATM micro-chip enabling it to facilitate bank-transactions. Huge steps in the right direction.
4. Outline of Eco-System:
The fourth and final area for improving the sector and getting it ready for a global market is a clear outline of Nigeria’s music industry eco-system. This could initially be a simple wall chart allowing the common man to gaze at and appreciate the mechanics of the industry. It would allow the country to see the key parts it has in place and what it still requires to sustain a thriving industry, such as who owns what rights (authors and creators), how it works, different administration points, record companies and their structure(s), music publishers along with their roles, trade bodies and their services, the various income-streams and how these are collected and shared amongst owners, plus the performers and the various business entities they interact with in order to exist (managers, agents, publicists, pluggers, bloggers, lawyers, accountants, promoters, etc).
Through a simple chart like this, the country, industry and economy would begin to appreciate and see the full potential of its music industry; where training, jobs and investment is required, along with business entry and exit points (a topic of major importance to investors); and plan ahead with much more confidence and purpose.
That said, it’s not about Nigeria copying Western templates to a T – it’s about the country taking what works and what is applicable from the West whilst coming up with alternative solutions for those areas that require it.
Also… The Diaspora’s Role:
The diaspora has a key role to play in all this. We bring a Western experience – be that in the way we have been trained, think or execute, as well as our contacts, which can be of immense value to the Nigerian industry and investors.
For those of us interested in contributing to Nigeria, it’s about securing the right partnerships on the ground as local knowledge is of the uttermost importance. This is something we did at SEM earlier this year in association with UKTI Nigeria, and took TAER into the country and brought international trading bodies, entertainment lawyers and music education institutions to meet and discuss with their Nigerian counterparts. Off the back of that success we’ve secured further interest and support from within, leading to the planning of our next trip to deliver focused master classes and workshops in association with key stakeholders on ground. It’s important to stress, especially for first timers, that in most cases before getting to this point one has to invest time going into the country to build strategic relationships; study and interact with the market with an open mind and be ready to tweak one’s service at any point because things can change at a rapid pace, and competition is rife!
Whilst saying all this, it is important to note that even in the West (where all this infrastructure is in place), public knowledge on most listed above is also poor. We’ve all heard of super stars declaring they’ve been ripped off, or dodgy dealings within the entertainment business. However, they have the systems in-place that enable transparency, better administration and are able to deal with any altercations as and when they happen provided the facts can be presented – in time, we will get things there!
If you’re interested in our work and would like to get involved, get in touch.
Read extract from TAER6 Lagos