Why Nigerian Musicians Will Never Make Money From Selling Their Songs

Today is a 'No Music Day' in Nigeria, and Pulse.ng's Joey Akan looks at the reasons why all the attempts by industry stakeholders to end piracy will never work. We're far into the rot to stop it.

Today is Nigeria's 'No Music Music Day', and we in the Nigerian music Industry have set today aside to protest widespread infringement of the rights of composers, song writers, performers, music publishers and other stakeholders in the Nigerian music industry.

Simply put, we are protesting the inability of all those who put in hardwork into their music to make money. These people are not restricted to the artiste alone, they include the Recording companies, the investors, the managers, A&R staff, and also, the artiste churches (they can't pay tithe if they can't make money).

We exist in a time and age, where selling a song, or attempting to get a kobo out of talent is seen as distasteful. Who wants to pay for the new Phyno song when you can scoop it off some random website or get it off a friend. Talent goes to waste in the desire for free music, and the rot is ever increasing. Why have we come this far into the middle of nowhere?

It's a systemic problem, one that far transcends the music industry. We as a people are of the mentality that all things can come free, and only when we're proven otherwise, can we seek assistance in our pockets for procurement. This thought pattern can be seen in various forms and manifestation in our daily living. For the entertainment industry, more specifically, acquisition of music, it is normalcy.

The buoyancy that technology brought into Nigeria is a blessing on many fronts, but in the music sector, it's a curse. Digital music distribution is always welcome. It's basic gift to the Nigerian space still remains the transition from the bulky and slow era of cassettes, endless tapes, and CDs to the convenient mp3, wav., Flac., and Amr. File system. But this makes the piracy more efficient. The advent of smart phones and similar devices expanded our sharing capabilities, and music brings joy to everyone, so we share, and not buy.

Sometimes, the organized structures put together by investors such as Spinlet, YSG Hubs, iTunes, and others attempt to put a price to all that sharing, and free distribution. But for a country where people are accustomed to freebies, intellectual property pricing is just an attempt in futility. Even when they finally get it right, by grabbing a specific material and keeping it exclusive, some e-deviant will buy from them, and make it viral. Why? Because he got it first, and his free platform has to score an increase in viewership.

Artiste themselves, also do spoil us all. For so long have they been releasing free music into the air. Everyone wants their music to get them fame, at the cost of money. This is beneficial for the short term, but it has contributed to the rot in which we find ourselves. Many of the singers become big, and attempt to put a price n their songs, but it never works. You've sold your goods for free.

As part of activities of ‘No Music Day 2014’, all broadcast stations and the major users of music across the country not to broadcast music between the hours of 9am-10am on Monday September 1, 2014 as a mark of solidarity with the nation’s creative industry being devastated by massive copyright infringement. All stations sympathetic to the plight of the music industry are being requested to dedicate the time belt to interviews, documentaries, debates and discussions that focus on the rights of creative people and the state of intellectual property rights in Africa’s most populous nation. Newspapers and magazines are also being encouraged to do special features on the industry to mark the day.

Also, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) in commemoration of the day will fly its flags at half mast. There will also be a bonfire of pirated materials at the society’s headquarters in the fight against piracy that has plagued the nation’s creative industry.

But will this ever work? We are too deep in the mess to attempt to clean it up. Fly every flag at half mast, take it down if you can. Write a book about copyright infringement, pray to the heavens for change, and wage a holy war against free music. All of these will not work.

Our Nigerian artistes will continually get no money from the sale of their materials, and 'No Music Day', will be what it is: Much ado about a helpless situation.

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