In March 2012, at a concert in Club 11:45, Malaysia, teen-superstar Davido performed to the cheer and applause of a large crowd. Among the songs he performed was smash hit “Carolina”, on which he was featured on by Sauce Kid. Sauce, who probably got wind of the incident recently, was pissed about it as he posted on Twitter, “is it ok 4 some1 else 2perform ur song? Y wil I get on stage n perform som1 else’s song? I Can’t!! so why wil som1 do dat 2 me? B D Judge”
This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened, and it always leads to breakdown in relationships between artistes and at the end, the industry suffers.
Some years back, the duo of AY.com and Terry G, who brought us wild club-bangers, was split apart by a similar feud. Terry G went to concerts and shows performing “Pass Me Your Love”, a song AY.com felt was his, regardless of the fact he featured the Akpako Master on it. This led to major arguments between the two, till they reportedly got into a scuffle on stage.
Since then, the pair have not worked together, and AY.com’s musical career suffered the most. Although he has come forward to say himself and Terry G were not at loggerheads, the impact of the fight still lies between them.
To prevent future musical relationships ending up like this, it would be wise for artistes to know the rules regarding collaborations and features with other artists, and the do’s and don’t’s before entering contractual agreements with other parties.
According to the Copyright Act, a song is made up of two parts: The musical work, and the song recording. The musical work is the musical composition itself (lyrics, notes, instrumentals, production) while the song recording is the voice recording of the song.
So according to this, everyone who contributes to the making of a song, from the songwriter, to the featured artistes, to the producer, all have copyright claims on a song. This leads to collective copyright on the song.
The idea though, in the Nigeria music industry, is that once an artiste pays the producer or someone he features for the track, they relinquish whatever copyrights they have on that track.
The absence of a signed contract, signed by all parties, stating these terms above, makes the above agreement untenable in a court of Law.
Some entertainment lawyers though, are of the opinion that since the act of paying money to featured artistes is a regular practice and thus a trade custom, which makes it tenable in a court of law.
So, if you’re dealing with people who you feel you might not trust, be sure to request for a signed agreement so that in case any of the parties attempts to break the contract, you’ll have something to back you up, so should decide to sue them, and, according to the Copyright act, receive compensation as is deemed fit by the court.
And most importantly, which is something every artiste should do, is hire an entertainment lawyer or a consultant to help them out when the legal jargon becomes too much. There are too many situations where artistes feel they are cheated or treated unfairly but can’t leave because they have signed contracts that they didn’t fully understand. Examples include 2Face and Kennis Music, Kel and Capital, just to name a few.
Having an Entertainment lawyer will go a long way to helping you prevent such mishaps in the future.
I hope a lot of artistes read this and get their heads up regarding the legal side of their music. It’s sad to imagine the number of careers and collaborations that have ended due to this sort of misunderstandings.