THE STATE OF THE NIGERIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY

 

“NO MUSIC DAY” 2018 OFFICIAL STATEMENT issued on behalf of the Nigerian
Music Industry by the Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Chief
Tony Okoroji.
—————————————————————————————
Today is September 1. It is “No Music Day” in Nigeria, a day the music
industry has dedicated annually to bring the attention of the Nigerian nation
to the widespread infringement of the rights of song writers, composers,
performers, music publishers, record labels and other stakeholders in the
music industry in Nigeria.

As we have done every year in the past nine years, we have once again
requested broadcasting stations in the country to devote a substantial
amount of broadcast time today to programs which highlight the significant
abuse of the rights of creative people in our country. This is to show
solidarity with the Nigerian creative community ravaged by piracy and other
forms of rights infringement. Nigerian newspapers and magazines have also
been requested to publish special features on issues bordering on the
infringement of Intellectual Property rights on this “No Music Day” and in the
coming days.
As we mark “No Music Day” today, we have also asked the thousands of
members of COSON across Nigeria and other stakeholders in the music
industry to stand up today and speak truth to power.
It is our firm belief that creative people in Nigeria cannot afford to keep quiet
any longer as Nigeria goes through another electioneering campaign season
in which politicians hop from one end of the country to the other but no one
offers any direction for the development and optimal deployment of the
millions of Nigeria’s creative talents for national development.
Today, we wish to tell Nigerian politicians that we will not be taken for
granted anymore and we will not help people canvass for votes who after
getting into office will abandon the creative industry to suffer in an
environment that completely discourages creativity.
We are making it abundantly clear that it is only politicians who have
developed a well thought out long-term plan for the progress of our industry
and have shown clear interest in the development of the nation’s creative

environment that can count on our significant support, the mobilization of
our fans and their votes as elections approach. In the same manner, we will
mobilize massively against those who have no plans to properly deploy the
creative energy of young Nigerian people.
People ask, “How did “No Music Day” begin?” “No Music Day” is traceable to
that historic week in 2009 when Nigerian artistes of different shades
embarked on a weeklong hunger strike staged in front of the National
Theatre in Lagos. The hunger strike which was a result of the frustration
caused by the devastating level of intellectual property theft in the country
was the prelude to what has become known as “No Music Day” in Nigeria.
The day was September 1, 2009 when practitioners in the Nigerian music
industry asked the over 400 licensed broadcast stations in the country not to
broadcast music for a significant period of the day.
For the first time in human history, the music industry in a nation called for
the halt of the broadcast of music all over the country for a whole day,
September 1, 2009. This action captured the imagination of the world and
what we mark as “No Music Day” every year in Nigeria, was born. It probably
needs to be made clear that “No Music Day” celebrated in Nigeria is a
completely Nigerian creation arising from Nigerian experiences and should
not be confused with any event of a similar title held anywhere else in the
world.
We wish to remind the different politicians and political parties canvasing for
votes across the country that the disease which necessitated the hunger
strike of 2009 has not quite been cured. At this time that other nations are
building their economic growth on the creative and knowledge economy,
Nigeria must take important steps to protect its creative industries to ensure
the socio-economic progress of the nation.
We use this opportunity to thank the different broadcast stations across
Nigeria which complied with our request not to broadcast music between the
hours of 8am and 10am today as a mark of solidarity with the nation’s
creative industries which have suffered immensely from the debilitating
infringement of copyright. Across the country today, many broadcast stations
dedicated the time belt to the broadcast of interviews, documentaries,
debates and discussions that focussed on the rights of creative people and
the potential contributions of creative activities to the national economy.
Newspapers and magazines across the country have also been requested to
publish special features on these issues in the coming days.

On “No Music Day” 2018, we wish to underline the fact that at a time of
dwindling revenue, when we seek to improve the socio-economic conditions
of our people, Nigeria can no longer continue to pay lip service to the
protection of its creative industries. Today, all flags at COSON House are
flying at half-mast as we have an open house event so that journalists,
artistes and intellectual property professionals can interact.
As we mark “No Music Day” today, we must ask all Nigerians to seriously
think about a world without music. What kind of world exactly would that
be?
Every year, in marking “No Music Day”, our key objective has been to engage
the Nigerian people and the various governments on the potential
contributions of Nigerian creativity to the development of the Nigerian
nation and the necessity to fully deploy the substantial comparative
advantage which our nation possesses in this area so as to provide hundreds
of thousands of well-paying jobs to the teeming masses of Nigerian youth
who parade the streets of our country almost hopelessly and which
hopelessness invariably attracts them to become laborers in the devil’s
workshop.
Everywhere you go, the ingenuity of the Nigerian people continues to be on
display. Our music, movies, literature, fashion, programming, and similar
products of the creative endeavour are in substantial demand across the
world. In the creative industry, Nigeria has significant comparative
advantage. We are only asking for people who have the vision, the passion
and the understanding of the new world to be in the right position, spark the
fire and change the national narrative.
As we mark “No Music Day” 2018, we ask for an end to the period of the
locust in Nigeria when poor leadership without vision has held our country
down.
We ask for a new Nigeria in which the people of wealth and influence are no
longer those who have brazenly stolen the people’s patrimony or scammed
the people and tricked them out of what rightfully belongs to them.
We ask for a Nigeria driven by knowledge and creativity. We want a nation
where creative people can depend on their creativity and live well.

For many years, some of us in the creative industries have continuously
requested a proper engagement with the government so that we can unleash
the burning latent energy of the creative geniuses that abound in our nation
and to deploy that energy towards national development. We have
repeatedly asked the government to unchain the immense potentials that
exist in our nation.
We are very concerned about the involvement of uninformed and
misinformed government officials flexing their muscles and destroying
initiatives that have taken many years to set up. The result is unbridled
confusion in the industry.
We ask for real change so that the nation can have an environment to
address the following:

1. To mobilize the necessary officials and ensure the full implementation
of the Private Copy Levy scheme without any further delay.
2. Ensure that the Nigerian Communications Commission makes it very
clear to all telecommunications companies operating in the country
that henceforth, there will be zero tolerance for the infringement of
the Intellectual Property rights of Nigerian citizens whose works are
deployed by these companies.

3. Ensure that the Honourable Minister of Information & Culture and the
different state governors make it clear to all Federal Government and
State Government owned broadcasting stations and other government
institutions that there is no provision in the law that exempts them
from the payment of royalties for the musical content broadcast or
deployed by them.
4. Ensure that the National Information Technology Development Agency
(NITDA), as a matter of urgency, takes necessary steps to begin the
take down of the several pirate websites bastardizing Nigerian
Intellectual Property on the Internet;

5. Ensure that the Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment, the Minister
of Foreign Affairs working with the Minister of Information & Culture
act swiftly to guarantee that the brazen and massive piracy of Nigerian
music, movies and literature across our continent is eradicated;
6. Ensure that the Nigerian Copyright Commission which was unlawfully
placed under the supervision of the Minister of Justice is brought back
under the supervision of the Minister charged with the responsibility
for Culture as provided under the law and empowered with the
necessary Governing Board to pivot towards the effective
implementation of anti-piracy measures in the digital environment.
7. Ensure that the National Assembly acts with despatch to ensure the
promulgation into law of the new Copyright Bill which contains several
provisions that deal with the infringement of copyright in the digital
era.
8. Ensure that necessary steps are taken to finally get the National
Endowment Fund for the Arts operative so as to provide urgently
needed resources to ensure the funding of creative projects in Nigeria
and to ensure the welfare of creative people in our country who have
fallen into hard times.

The theme of, “No Music Day” 2018 is ‘Copyright is Human right. We believe
that the time has come for our music industry to go beyond simply providing
entertainment but playing a key role in nation building.

We cannot afford to give up as a nation despite the immense
disappointments we have had. We must reinvent the Nigerian nation and
speak truth to power. We believe that in this process, creative people in
Nigeria must play a central role, stand up, take responsibility, work together,
establish the strong advocacy necessary in every democracy to create
positive change.

God bless Nigeria.

Chief Tony Okoroji; September 1, 2018

Sub-Editor

Sub-Editor

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