How to Play the Talking Drum in Seven Days

How to Play the Talking Drum in Seven Days
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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

MY MUSIC BUSINESS SPEECH at the Electronic Music Soundscape Music Production Workshop 2016 organized by the Goethe Institut, Lagos

Good day everyone. 

I am happy to be here to contribute my knowledge to this year's Music Producers' workshop. 

Thank you Goethe Institut for having me here. Last year, I was one of the participants of the DJ/Music Production workshop.

Combining my careers as a Music Publisher with music performances and creative writing would have been tough if I were not an accounting graduate. I also took some courses in law which makes me have a little knowledge of my areas of expertise.

Today, I will be talking about how the Music Business operates in Nigeria and relatively in other parts of the world.


I will be talking about: 

1.           Copyright

2.           The legal aspects of Master rights  and sampling  

3.           The legal aspects of Publishing rights on composition

4.           Royalty distribution: Collecting societies, modes of royalties collection and distribution

5.           Booking

I proceed.

1. What is Copyright?

This is the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator of music and other creative works for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic or musical material. 

In Nigeria, copyright in musical work holds for the lifetime of the author and seventy years after the death of the author, while copyright in sound recording holds for fifty years after the end of the year in which the recording was first published. Note that in the music business, an author also means a songwriter

For example, Fela Anikulapo Kuti would have been collecting royalties from his music until his death. After his death in 1997, his music publishers or lawyers or music managers will collect his royalties on behalf of his estate (wives, children and grandchildren) until 2067.

Majek Fashek currently collects his royalties from all over the world, especially from the USA. After his death, 70 years will be counted and royalties will be paid to his wife and subsequently to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.

When you enter into a contract to collect royalties for your intellectual property, inform your next of kin and your immediate family about it. So they can collect your legacy from the custodians of your music. 

For sound recording, if there is an agreement to pay the music producer a portion of the royalties, then he would collect his percentage during his life time and 50 years after his death.

If Don Jazzy were to collect royalties for the production of a song, he would collect it for the duration of his life and 50 years after his death, his family will still be collecting it.


Copyright protection is automatic. The act of creating and fixing the work creates the copyright. There is no requirement to register for copyright. 

For example, copyright in musical work and/or sound recording begins automatically once a piece of music is created and recorded (e.g. on video, tape or CD or by simply writing down the notation of a score). Make sure that you keep safely all jotters and exercise books used to write your songs. Keep them however rough they might seem. They are your evidence. 

Copyright does not protect ideas. It only protects the specific and original expression of the idea.

If you come out to say, "I wanted to record that song o! That girl has now recorded the same song". You are on your own. You need to put down your ideas in writing and mechanical form and act on it.

Copyright is a designation of an intellectual property similar to a patent or trademark. Copyright can be compared to assets like land, houses and cars.

Copyright is similar to patent and trademark.

patent is a right granted to the owner of an invention that prevents others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without his permission. 

A patentable invention can be a product or a process that gives a new technical solution to a problem. For example, if someone discovers the cure for AIDS, the government will protect his invention with a patent so that only him can make money from his invention for a certain number of years before other people start to manufacture it too.


trademark is a word, phrase, logo, slogan, symbol and/or design that is used to identify a business. For example, the slogan for Drumline Entertainment is, Unlimited Art Beat. Also, no other company can use the logo of say, coca-cola or Google.


Once an original composition has been fixed in a medium from which it can be reproduced (having either been recorded or written down in some fashion), the composer is granted exclusive rights to that piece of music, including:


• the right to reproduce the song

• the right to distribute the song

• the right to perform the song

• The right to create derivative works


One of the keys to understanding how money is made in the world of music publishing is the fact that every recorded piece of music has two separate copyrights (which are not always owned or exploited by the same persons or parties).


There is the songwriter and the performing artist

Songwriters hold the right to the lyrics and melody of a song while performing artists hold the rights to the particular recording of a song, which is called, master recording.

Both songwriters and recording artists can assign their rights to a third party for management instead of attempting to track down song use and royalty collection on their own. 

So, the songwriter or composer or lyricist hire the services of a music publisher and the recording artist gets a record deal with a record label and also hires a music Manager to carry out these duties.


For music management, song copyrights are assigned to music publishers and master recording, otherwise known as the sound recording, are assigned to the record label. 


Most foreign hit songs that we hear on the radio that was performed by artists like Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, etc were not written by these artists. They are usually written by songwriters who may not perform their music. For example, 'I look to you' performed by Whitney Houston was written by R. Kelly.


Nigerian musicians need to embrace this style of music publishing if they want to go far in their musical careers. It will increase the life span of a performing artist. The artist becomes the face to hit songs.


An artist does not have to rack his brains to write songs. He can seek the help of songwriters via the music publisher and the parties responsible will enter into contracts to avoid magomago and long story in the future.


But in Nigeria, every artist wants to be both the writer and singer of a piece of music. It might not be possible all the time. This is the reason why you hear some artists who have performance talent but they will record only one single or if dem try, they will record one album and go and chill out and that is the end of their music career because they cannot come up with any more creative ideas for songs.  

Some artists like R Kelly, Tuface, Brymo and Tiwa Savage are gifted in both songwriting and performance. They can go ahead.

There need to be collaborations between songwriters and performing artists. The Music Publishers, entertainment lawyers and the collecting society in Nigeria is in business to bridge the gap.


Exceptional artists like Michael Jackson, wrote most of his songs himself. He was also a music publisher.  

Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC is an American music publishing company owned by Sony through its U.S. subsidiary Sony Corporation of America. The company was originally founded as a division of Associated Television (ATV) in 1955 by Lew Grade

In 1985, Michael Jackson acquired ATV Music Publishing for $47.5 million and managed that company till he died on June 25, 2009.


Like I said, there are two sides to music copyrights: a master side and a publishing side.


1. The Publisher side is also known as the Composition itself — This is a song’s music and lyrics. This copyright is owned by the songwriter and music publisher. If a songwriter does not hire the services of a music publisher, he is then his own music publisher.

2. The Master side is also known as the Sound recording — 
This is a particular recorded version of a musical composition. This copyright is owned by the recording artist and/or label.

3. The legal aspect of Master rights and sampling



The master rights usually belong to the party that financed the recording. This could be the independent artists or record labels.

The best decision for an artist is to own the master right to his music. After the record deal is over, the artist should still have the master right to his music.


The following options are available to a songwriter/artist whilst seeking a record deal:

1. He should pay to record  the album by himself:

After doing this, he can then sign an agreement with a record label, publisher or music manager and ask them to promote him whilst retaining the master right 

2. Master Right Reversible :

He should sign an agreement with the record label to get back his master right after a certain number of years say between 2 to 5 years.


Davido bought Gobe from Password, an upcoming artist. He also bought Aye from Runtown. 

Initially, he lied that the song was his own until Password opened a Twitter account just to abuse Davido.

The matter was later settled and the conclusion was that Davido paid Password is a sum of N500,000 which means that he bought the song from Password.


Password and Runtown no longer have a right to their song. Davido can exploit the songs however he chooses and collect all royalties and income attached to the songs.


You may Google the stories.

Do not sell your music. Own the master right and get royalties and monies attached to your music. Get advice from a Music Publisher or Entertainment lawyer.


Differences between sampling, cover and remix


In musicsampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a sound recording in a different song or piece. See Enya and the Fugees on Youtube links below. (Please do not run away. Come and finish reading this article.*winks*).







In popular music, a cover version or cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a previously recorded, a commercially released song by someone other then the original artist or composer.

It could be a voice cover or instrumental of the original song. 

Listen to my cover of Double Wahala of Oritsefemi, on the Talking Drum here.


Before I recorded it, I asked for his permission through his manager, 4Real, who replied to my email. I still have that email that we used to exchange correspondence. The song has been online and free.

Peradventure I want add it to my album, I have to inform COSON who will prepare the necessary documents and add Oritsefemi and Fela Anikulapo’s names to their records for royalty collections because I am not the copyright owner of the song. 

I mentioned Fela’s name here because the song by Oritsefemi is a sample of Fela’s original song, “Na double wahala for deadi body and the owner of the deadi body!”

A cover version can also, refer to a re-recording of a song by the original artist or performers under a different record company. For example, if Adekunle Gold leaves YBNL for Mavin Records, if he owns the copyright to his songs and he performs Orente again under this platform, it will be regarded as a covering his own song.  


remix is a piece of media which has been altered from its original state by adding, removing, and/or changing pieces of the item. DJs do a lot of remixes. They can convert a song from soul to reggae, house, electronic and other genres of music. 


Check out Adele’s Hello on YouTube:

Original Version:

Reggae Version:


A song, piece of artwork, book, video, or photograph can all remix.

In all the above situations, the copyright owner and or music publisher should be informed. Permission must be sought from them before adding the songs to an album, except the music is given out for free and the music publisher is okay with the situation.


For DJs, they can make mixtapes and give them out for free or sell to private customers. Once they want to put that song on an album as a performing artist, permission must be sought.

Some DJ mixes are deleted from social platforms like Soundcloud. This is because the copyright owners are of the opinion that their copyrights have been infringed upon. 

2. Legal Aspects of Publishing rights on composition   

If you want to make money as a songwriter, composer or lyricist, the obvious answer is to find yourself a Music Publisher but what do music publishers actually do for their clients? Why do you need one, and how can you find the right one?


As a Music Publisher, I am always answering questions about my business. I would say that the most common one is "What exactly does a music publisher do?" 

The simple answer would be that I work with songwriters, who compose music and/or lyrics, just as a book publisher would work with an author.

Many individuals in the music business, unless they're directly involved in music publishing, have a poor understanding of the particulars of publishing coupled with the fact that the laws and procedures vary from country to country.


A Music Publisher provides the following services :

A. Song registration

B. Licensing

C. Royalty collection

D. Creative matters.


You should register your songs with a collecting society. You can do that by yourself or let a music publisher do so on your behalf.

The collecting society in Nigeria is the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON( 

Abroad, we also have collecting societies like:

  • The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) ( 
  • Broadcast Music, Incorporated ( are American performing rights societies 
  • Performing Right Society ( is the equivalent in the United Kingdom.

They all provide a service by monitoring, collecting and paying out royalties to publishers and songwriters.


These are royalties that are paid to songwriters and publishers whenever the song is, for example, played on the radio or on TV. 

All radio stations and TV networks are licensed and COSON is working on seeing how the number of music plays can be known.


Eldee the Don is working on Playdata which will help record keep an accurate number of times that an artist’s music is played. You should Google this.


Hotels, bars, etc, pay a license called a 'blanket licence, which allows them to play any song they wish, as many times as they like. When a DJ is performing in these places, it is the licensed bar or hotel that pays royalties to COSON.


Once the song is registered by a publisher, the performing rights societies will collect and payout these performance royalties directly to the publisher and songwriter.





The Music Publisher collects different types of royalties and income on behalf of the songwriter.

These include:

  • Mechanical Rights and Royalties: These are collected from record labels or performing artists where music is recorded on CDs.
  • Performance Rights and Royalties: These are collected from owners of hotels, bars except NGOs. 
  • Synchronization Rights and Fees: Collected from film and movies makers, games designers, TV commercials, TV shows, etc


In Nigeria today, CDs are not bringing in much profit like in the past. There is still the problem of piracy. Besides, it is still a Herculean task to monitor online downloads and collect royalties on them, it is better to collect both a flat fee from the record label and then collect royalties from the record label via the collecting society, COSON.

All these facts must be put in a contract with the help of a lawyer and/ or music publisher and agreed by all parties to the contract.

For example, in the Davido example above, if Password and Runtown had engaged the services of a lawyer or Music Publisher, they might have gotten away with the flat fee of N500,000 and also access to further royalties for their lifetime and an additional 70 years after their deaths. 

Davido will only collect performance fees.


The Music Publisher puts his creative inputs into the song creation and pitches songs to advertising agencies and to music directors of films.

3. Royalty distribution, collecting societies, modes of royalties collection and distribution

At COSON, there are two categories of distributions:

  1. Specific Distribution
  2. General Distribution

Specific Distribution

When a license is issued for a clearly identifiable work or a log is received from which the royalty due to a particular work is clearly discernible (e.g radio & TV promos, roadshows, jingles, ringtones, etc), the copyright owner/s is entitled to a royalty based on how much the society has collected on behalf of the owner from the user. The only deduction, in this case, will be the administrative cost.

What this plenty grammar is saying is that only songs that are popular and are being played regularly on radio will get a royalty. For example, I am a musician but I have not started promoting my songs and it has not yet being played on the radio. But an artist like Techno who has hit songs that are being played regularly on radio and used as an advert by MTN will get specific royalties. Out of this royalty, the administrative cost is deducted and money for general royalty is deducted.

General Distribution

On another hand, a general distribution is made to members across the board, in cases, where the royalty collected, cannot reasonably be ascribed to any specific work or where the members at an AGM have decided that a token be paid to all members irrespective of the amount of use of their works. 

General distributions are usually done once a year.

By awarding general distributions to non-specific royalty members, COSON is of the belief that all musicians and artists should benefit from society because an artist that is in the spotlight today might not be there tomorrow. 

So, the general royalty will serve as a support to these musicians in future years when they are no longer in the spotlight.

Additional information

The songwriter, where he is not the same person as the artist will NOT earn the same royalties with an artist.

The songwriter will earn more royalties such as discussed above, in mechanical royalties, performance royalties and synchronization fees.
The performing artist will only make money from his performance fees and sale of CDs and online sales.

He will not get a share in the synchronization (money for use of songs in TV, films, video and computer games, etc) and performance royalties (royalty from radio and performance royalty)

Whether he is an independent artist or a record label he will have to pay mechanical royalties to the songwriter from the sale of CDs and online streaming

Paying a flat fee straight up, is better for the Nigeria system as the issue of piracy has not yet been curbed and the methods of royalty collections are not yet perfect in Nigeria.

Note that there is a difference between performance fees and performance royalties.

When a performing artist goes to perform at Eko Hotel and other hotels, bars, lounges, abroad, etc, he will get paid only his performance fees.

Performance royalties are what the songwriter gets when his songs are played on the radio and performed in public by a DJ, live band or by the recording artist. It is the venue that pays this performance fee to COSON who then pays the songwriter only.

Music Producers are being paid in either of two ways – either a flat fee or through royalties. The amount may vary but the most important factor is the success of the tracks or the album.

If a music producer already prepared a beat beforehand and sold it to a record label or artist, he no longer has a right to the beat. He has no right to use the same beat for another artist or record label. This is called work for hire arrangement.  

This law holds whether there is a legal agreement backing it up or not. The music producer must never come out to fight dirty with respect to collecting any additional remuneration or royalties after he has been paid in full his fees.


Situations where the music producer can earn royalties for his work are:

  • Where the producer made a significant input in the songwriting process 
  • Where the producer specifically requests to be paid only royalties for his sound recording and the artist or record label agrees to his demands
  • Where the producer requests to be paid both flat fees and royalties and the other parties agree to the contract.


The ball is in your court. As a producer, you are free to determine how you want to be paid as long as the other parties are in agreement and the agreement is documented. 


If the contract is entered into by the other parties, the producer will collect a percentage in mechanical, performance and synchronization royalties. He may just be given only one of these classes of royalties. It all depends on the written agreement.


In all situations, the collecting society, COSON, must be informed and given a copy of the contracts.

You can also hire a Music Publisher to help with publishing and monitoring your copyrights.

4. Booking 

These are the procedures involved in getting gigs and booking artists for studio recording.

Getting Gigs

Booking can come in two forms;

  • Looking for the gig 
  • Invited to perform at gigs

The procedures are the same except that in the ‘Invited for the gig’, you are almost sure that you will be performing.


1.     Look for hotels, clubs and restaurants in your area where you think the audience will appreciate your kind of music. For example, if your major genre of music is jazz, do not look for gigs at Mushin. The genre is predominant that in that area would be fuji, apala or pop music. Find your way to Ikoyi, Lekki, Ikeja, etc for your gigs. 

2.     Go there and find out if you can be booked for a performance. You may also call before going there or send an email. But if there is no reply from the email, it is better to call and goes there if the calls are not working. 

3.     Take along your demo CD. Make sure that it has a picture and label. 

4.     Let your demo CD have the address of your website and or social media pages, at least Facebook or write these details in a neat sheet of paper and submit along with the CD.

5.     If you do not have money to record your songs and design it with your info and you have your music and videos on online platforms like Reverbnation, Facebook, Soundcloud, Hulkshare, etc, you may just write your stage name and the links neatly in clean sheets of paper and seek for gigs. 

6.     Send your press kit later after you have been invited or send it along with your email if you are applying online. 

7.     When you get the invitation to perform, discuss if you are going to be paid. If it is convenient for you financially, you might decide to go and perform like in an audition. If the event owners like your performance, you could be a regular and then discuss the fees. 

8.     At this point, you should send a technical rider. Also, make sure that your communications are documented in the form of emails and a contract.  

  A tech rider is a one-page document that gives the venue and/or sound man an understanding of your technical requirements and how to set up the stage before you arrive.

  It also gives them an opportunity to let you know if they can't accommodate any of your needs.

These include requirements such as lighting, sound, equipment, accommodation, feeding, etc

9. If you do not get gigs, organize your own gigs.


10. Keep records of your gigs online; pictures and videos


11. Update your social media accounts and websites regularly.

Tips for phone calls or visits

  • Always be friendly 
  • Try to get as much information about the music bookings as you can.
  • Get the name of the booking agent/manager or whoever books the music.
  • Get the name of the person calling or the person that attended to you too because you can use that too.


Tips for emails

  • Reintroduce yourself – casual, friendly but polite.
  • Say what you do and the type of music you play. 
  • Ask for the gig. It is really important to state clearly what you want.  
  • Provide a link for them to hear your stuff online. 
  • Give them your phone number and sign off politely.



  • Inform the artist of the recording fees for a single and an album as the case may be.
  • Ask the artists if they own the copyright to the songs they want to record. If not, they have to get permission for it and show it to you before you begin the project. When they bring it, keep a copy of it in your file marked separately for covers, remixes and sample evidence.
  • Give them your recording agreement to sign. This will contain the fees, mode of payment (telling them to pay into a bank account or pay cash or collect cheques or make online transfers), percentage of deposit, date and time that recording will commence if the artist will be paying separately for fuel in case of a power cut or the cost of this are already included in the original fees, the agreement proper (if you are going to collect royalties for sound recording and songwriting), if you are going to promote his song for him after recording or not, etc. Let it be stated clearly and understood by the artist before you book his studio time.
  • When the contract is signed, keep the photocopy and give them the original.
  • Collect the deposit
  • After recording, do not give the artist his master tape until he has finished paying the balance.


If you are in doubt of what to do, you can make online researches and then get the help of a Music Publisher and/or an Entertainment Lawyer. This is the best type of lawyer to get; a learned professional that understands how the entertainment and creative industry works in Nigeria.

From time to time, check out my Music Business Blog at

With these, I have come to the end of my speech.

Any questions?


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