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Why Nigerian musicians are not ‘interested’ in royalties – M.I



Nigerian rapper, M.I Abaga, has revealed the reason why Nigerian musicians appear uninterested in receiving their royalties from the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).

Speaking exclusively with Premium Times at a briefing on the state of affairs at COSON on June 7, M.I said many artistes are not motivated to follow up on their royalties because the amount is abysmally low.

He noted, “It’s the question of value as most artistes don’t think there is a lot of monetary value from royalties. But I think that is changing very quickly and it’s going to become better once the COSON crisis is sorted. It has a lot to do with the Naira value so for instance if an artiste knows that when he performs or writes a song, he or she can get far more than his or her royalties form COSON.

“I am sure that you heard that Davido earned N500, 000 a year from royalties. This figure is nothing compared to how much he makes from shows and the likes. I receive royalties; I received N200, 000 last year from COSON last year.”

MI’s stance was against the backdrop of the lingering COSON crisis, which necessitated the gathering at Protea Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.

Rapper Ruggedman, who was also present at the event, lamented the lack of transparency in how royalties are shared to artistes in Nigeria.

He said, “The seemingly unending saga may result in a situation where artistes will lose their royalties. The crisis is so bad that right now there is no transparency in how money is been collected and how it is shared to the artiste.

“With the intending revocation of the COSON’s licence looming over everybody and artistes not getting their money, it means that there will be no more money for musicians once the licence is revoked. I hope the investigations will still be carried out.”

The ongoing confusion in the society started after an impromptu meeting of COSON on December 7, declared Efe Omoregbe as the successor of former chairman, Tony Okoroji.

However, Mr Okoroji still maintains his position as the chairman, refusing to step down for the new administration.

COSON is now divided in terms of leadership with Omoregbe and Okoroji crying infringements and treachery respectively.

The crisis took a new dimension on May 5 when the Nigerian Copyright Commission suspended its operating licence.

At the press conference convened by the Omoregbe-led COSON board, many expressed concern about the future of Nigerian musicians in the light of the ongoing crisis.

Mr Omoregbe, who is widely known as Tuface’s manager decried what he described as Mr Okoroji’s access to and abuse of funds belonging to members.

He said, “Tony Okoroji has bluntly refused to accept the vote of no confidence passed by his colleagues on the board. Tony Okoroji has instead, maintained a stranglehold on the reins at COSON and launching a legal and media war against any and every dissenting voice using the apparatus and of course, funds of right owners, whose royalties the directors are duty bound to protect.

“The result today is six lawsuits instituted or instigated by Okoroji and numerous expensive but self-serving PR and media stunts, all in a desperate bid to perpetuate the illegality that is his purported reinstatement as chairman.”

Participants at the event included Eddie Lawani, Zaaky Adzay, Rugged Man, Blackky, Pretty Okafor, Felix Duke, Olisa Odibua, Sound Sultan, Baba Dee and many others.

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