At MPAN’s Inaugural Town Hall Meeting, COSON, NCC Take the Heat

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Vanessa Obioha

The growing crisis over copyright issues in the music industry took centre stage at the first town hall meeting of The Music Publishers Association of Nigeria (MPAN).

Graced by music stakeholders and artistes including Programme Director Beat 99.9FM, Olisa Adibua, and Efe Omorogbe of Hypertek Digital, the conference sought to address the varying issues of publishing rights rocking the industry under the theme ‘The Music Publishing Business in Nigeria – Regulations, Challenges and the Future’.

While each of the panelists made up of MPAN members gave an overview of the issues plaguing the music industry, they all agreed that the Copyright Society of Nigeria has not been transparent enough in some of its functions.

This was elucidated by MPAN Chairman, Olumide Mustapha, a technology and entertainment attorney during his presentation. He explained the avoidable loss of revenue was as a result of lack of industry knowledge and know how around music publishing, adding that lack of data was responsible for the irregularities and that specific distribution of revenue is key.

But it was Ibukun Abidoye, the Executive President of Chocolate City, who was more vocal during her presentation on the Future of Music Publishing in Nigeria. Citing American Publishing companies such as The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, called for the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) NCC’s intervention on COSON’s account.

In recent times, COSON has been heavily pilloried for not giving musicians their royalties as well as its shaky leadership status. Omorogbe who was once declared the successor of chairman of the collecting body Tony Okoroji argued that the issues in COSON is more than Okoroji. He hinted that until there is a face to the unnamed persons hiding under the body to carry out treachery that the body will not function properly.

There were also calls for the federal government to appoint a music stakeholder to helm the NCC. The practitioners argued that they were tired of the commission controlled by persons who lack adequate knowledge on the business of the music industry. Abidoye further said that there is need to establish a joint committee to address music publishing tariffs to determine if the rates are sufficient.

Also lending her voice was Isioma Idigbe, a well seasoned media and entertainment lawyer. She provided an overview of music publishing and highlighted its importance within the music industry.

MPAN members and attendees reviewed current policies and regulations,agreeing that measures must be put in place to protect the interests of creators within the industry. Useful solutions to restructuring the collecting society were suggested, and four petitions intended to achieve this were signed at the meeting. They include a petition that NCC should issue a directive to all collecting societies in the music industry to allocate not less than 60 per cent gross profit to specific distribution; carry out a forensic audit on COSON account as well as directing collecting bodies on certain functions such as licensing and invoicing.

Hosted by the Universal Music Group Nigeria which is a member of MPAN, the meeting also gave members a better perspective of the music publishing business, and the extent of revenue loss from the absence of a proper music publishing structure.

“We are pleased to have hosted the first MPAN town hall meeting which was well attended by industry stakeholders. The meeting provides an opportunity for key stakeholders within the industry to come together to discuss the challenges currently being faced within music publishing in Nigeria. Our aim is to work with the relevant bodies to ensure that we put structures in place that not only aids the growth of the music ecosystem but protects and compesentes music creators and this meeting was definitely a step towards the right direction,” stated Ezegozie Eze, General Manager, Universal Music West Africa.

MPAN is an association of owners of thousands of copyright catalogues, both locally and internationally.