THE STATE OF THE NIGERIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY

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THE STATE OF THE NIGERIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY

Chief Tony Okoroji addressing guests at the “No Music Day” Celebration in Lagos

“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

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