Music contracts, artiste and record label relationship in Nigeria has experienced one altercation or the other, revolving around contracts, unfair work practices and non-performance or omission to perform certain obligations, either on the artiste side, or the Record label side. The Nigeria music scene is yet faced with another fuss.
On the spotlight once more is Edo born Cynthia Morgan, now known as Madrina. the self-styled queen of Nigeria reggae dancehall who has been missing from the music scene for a number of years now resurfaced after an Instagram live video she featured in with “Upfront with Sandra”.
in her words:
“I went through a lot as Cynthia Morgan that a lot of people didn’t know about,”
Few minutes after the live video, words such as “greed”, “evil”, “wicked” have been popping up on tweets. And as a matter of fact, as I write this piece, Cynthia Morgan is the number 1 trend on the twitter-sphere and probably on the Nigerian social virtual space.
With breaking news of Cynthia Morgan’s ordeal with her former record label, “Northside Inc.”, run by Music exec, Jude Okoye, so many cans of worms are beginning to open up, one of which is from Mr. May D, Cynthia’s former record label mate, and this is what he had to say in response to another social media user who took a swipe at him on the ongoing brawl:
“…From writing credit and vocal credit on the invasion album…ask them if I was ever greedy! Just let them say it! For your information, I was staying in their boys’ squatters with their driver and their cook, just one room all of us shared a toilet and had big songs and also the other side of their twin duplex was empty! Now! I slept on a brand new television carton used my t-shirt as cover cloth”
While Kiss Daniel by the terms of his contract with his former record label, G-worldwide prohibited him from further use of his name, rights to his catalogues, a subject which is still before the court, the same fate have also befallen Cynthia Morgan, as she was prohibited from using her name after her exit from the label, an allegation, which Northside Inc. has denied.
Disputes, albeit inevitable, one thing is clear with the ceaseless disputes in the Nigeria music and entertainment space, from the Kiss Daniel/G-worldwide, Brymo/Chocolate city, Mo’hits /Dbanj, and countless music disputes, it is the fact that artistes’ do not consult entertainment lawyers, music publishers, A&R experts who are versed with interpreting artistes obligations, and who possess the requisite negotiation skills. This has been the greatest Achilles heels of the everyday Nigerian artiste.
So many artistes enter into recording deals from a position of weakness, poor negotiating abilities, ignorance, and the rush to “blow” and to that extent are oblivious as to the obligations and implications of the recording contract.
Call it “wicked”, “unfair”, and “evil”; if an artiste goes into a negotiation room to discuss a record deal without knowing jack about the music contract and the music business, he will no doubt walk out of such a meeting with the short end of the stick.
Therefore, it is not surprising when we as lawyers, music publishers, A&R practitioners read of disputes as to royalties, streaming revenues, exclusive rights to artiste catalogues, exclusive right to the ownership and copyright to use an artiste’s name (even after an exit), issues of poor remuneration, poor promotion, etc.
It is my considered view that the Nigerian artiste needs to do more to protect him or her by getting the help he or she requires in interpreting all contractual obligations and expectations.
Ehis is the Lead Consultant at Starlion Legal
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