The Director-General of the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria (MCSN), Mayo Ayilaran, has lamented the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on royalty collection societies in Nigeria.
MCSN is a collective management organisation for music (musical work) and sound recordings in Nigeria. They are also involved in literary, dramatic, and audiovisual rights.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES in Lagos on Wednesday, Mr Ayilaran said the continued closure of event centers and fun spots across the country due to the newly rolled out COVID-19 protocols, has impacted royalty collection and artiste’s earnings.
‘‘The main challenge we are facing right now is that businesses, where music is being performed like nightclubs, event centers, bars, and hotels, aren’t open. This means that we can’t earn money from there. When music is not being performed publicly, then there is no way we can go to collect money for our artistes.
‘‘When we are not collecting, then to run your operations efficiently and effectively becomes a big task and the musicians themselves who we represent will not be earning. They can’t earn because of the lack of public performance neither can they get their due royalties from us, so it’s a vicious cycle,’’ he said.
In Nigeria, collection societies consider radio and television airplay as a public performance that should generate performance royalties for musicians. One of the ways the MCSN collects royalties is by administering performing/mechanical rights and collecting license fees on behalf of its members. Unfortunately, according to Ayilaran, most Nigerian broadcast stations renege on these agreements.
‘‘Yes, all of them are guilty of this offence, they are all,’’ he noted.
‘‘Radio stations will be complaining to us that COVID-19 has affected them because many advertisers are not paying them and so they are not paying us. And we must be seen to be understanding, of course, many of them are on air but the challenge there is many of them do not regard music or the content they play on air as important as the diesel they burn to power their stations, or as important as the transmitter itself.
‘‘Because if you stop the transmitter and you are powering your station without content, then what will you be playing to people?What will you be broadcasting? But they (broadcast stations), have pushed us to that point where we will push down this argument very hard on them.
“So this year, we are not going to just lie low there and allow our members to take the brunt of whatever challenges everybody may be having. So, we should distribute it equally.’’
When this newspaper asked him the last time MSCN paid artistes their royalties, he said, ‘‘Well, for last year, nothing has come out so far. We are only looking up to God. The question is not really when last we paid artistes royalties, but the most important question is how soon can we put money in the pockets of creators?’’
Mr Ayilaran, who listed Sunny Ade and 2baba Idibia as some past royalty beneficiaries, said the Nigerian Copyright Commission recently renewed MCSN’s license to continue to operate as a Collective Management Organisation.
The renewal of MCSN’s approval to continue to operate as a collecting society for musical works and sound recordings was conveyed by a letter dated 22nd December 2020 from the NCC.
The agency has been in a longtime battle with its fierce rival, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), over royalty collections.
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