The House of Representatives, on Wednesday, expressed commitment to secure proper compensation and royalties for the late Nigerian singer, Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad, from his musical works.

Naija News reports that Chairman of the House Committee on Justice, Olumide Osoba, representing the Abeokuta North/Odeda/Obafemi-Owode Federal Constituency of Ogun State, stated this during an interactive session on the rights and royalties of the 27-year old rapper.

Recall that Mohbad passed on September 12, 2023, and was buried the next day.

The singer’s corpse was exhumed on September 21 by the Lagos Police for autopsy due to circumstances surrounding the death.

Speaking during the interactive session, the lawmaker representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency, Lagos State, Babajimi Benson, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform, raised a motion of urgent public importance on Mohbad’s case.

Osoba highlighted the importance of securing compensation and royalties, stressing that payments from the sources are part of revenue streams for artistes.

He lamented that the prevailing system in the Nigerian musical industry does not protect musicians, particularly the up-and-coming artistes, to make the most of their entitlements, particularly during disagreements with record labels.

It also said it is crucial to recognise that young musicians are often not well-informed about their rights when entering into contracts.

To this end, Osoba noted that the committee has requested the relevant information relating to Mohbad’s death and modalities to ensure his royalties and other benefits are secured.

He said, “This inadequate awareness on the part of musical artists makes it difficult to get adequate compensation for their works, particularly during disagreements with their record labels.

“Additionally, there is a need to adapt the music industry to the digital age. While digital streaming platforms have revolutionised music consumption and distribution, young musicians often struggle to earn a substantial income due to outdated royalty structures.

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“Advocating for revised royalty models that accurately reflect the value of music in the streaming era is essential.”

The issues resulting from royalties and the ownership of the music catalogue are not new in Nigerian music. King Sunny Ade (KSA) had a protracted dispute with Chief Abioro over the ownership of the album he recorded under Abioro’s African Song Limited and the royalties resulting from the sale of the albums. The dispute between the Grammy-nominated King Sunny Ade and African Song Limited started in 1974 and was a subject of litigation for nearly four decades until the Federal High Court settled it in favour of KSA in 2013.

In 2022, Nigerian Street Hop sensation Mohbad broke the relationship with Marlian Music over irreconcilable differences, part of which was the label’s failure to pay him any royalties since he signed to their books in 2019.

In a public release by Mohbad’s team on September 16, 2023, they stated they were still in court to retrieve Mohbad’s catalogue and the royalties being owed to Mohbad by Marlian Music.

For those who may not understand what these terms royalties and catalogue mean, this article is for you.

In simple terms, royalties are the money made from the exploitation of music.

Music royalties are the payments made to individuals who hold the right over a song. These individuals include recording artists, songwriters, producers, and other parties like the label and publisher.

Two types of rights are attached to the ownership of a song. They are The Composition and the Masters.

The composition is the lyrics, the melodies, and harmonies that make up a song and this right belongs to the songwriter and their publisher who collect their share of the royalties.

The Master is when the composition (lyrics, melodies, and harmonies) is recorded on a production to create the song in its final and consumable form. The master rights belong to the recording artist, producers, and record labels.

The royalties from composition and masters accrue from the exploitation of a song from any form of commercial use including:

  • Public Performance Royalties: These are the royalties paid by Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) to songwriters and publishers whenever their music is broadcasted publicly via Radio, in Malls, etc. 

  • Mechanical Royalties: This is the payment made to songwriters whenever their compositions are distributed or reproduced in both physical and digital formats on streaming platforms.

  • Digital Performance Royalties: These are royalties from digital musical consumption platforms.

  • Synchronization Royalties: These are royalties generated when a song is licensed for use in movies, shows, advert jingles, video games, etc. 

  • Songwriters 

  • Recording Artists 

  • Producers 

  • Record Labels

  • Distribution Companies 

  • Publishers

  • Licensing Companies 

The rights to a song depend on the contributions of each party to the song and also the negotiations between them.

Contractually, these rights are defined and stated in a document known as a Split Sheet.

Royalty collections are determined by the structure of each country. The Nigerian music industry sadly can’t be counted in the comity of nations with structured royalty collection bodies.

Composition royalties are collected by Publishing companies which collect a cut before paying the songwriters.

For other kinds of royalties from the Master like mechanical, performance, and licensing, there are different bodies responsible for collecting them.

Performance Rights Royalties are collected by Performance Right Organisation like BMI collect royalties from usage on radio, concert halls, malls, restaurants, and on television shows and commercials.

Typically, each country has one Performance Right Organisation.

Licensing royalties are collected by the licensing companies who pitch and find suitable placement for the songs. They collect the revenues for the licensing and take a cut based on a pre-agreed contract before paying the rest to the artist.

Just as songwriters sign a publishing deal, artists also sign recording deals that cover the reproduction of the masters. Some of these companies like the major labels Sony, Universal, and Warner own both distribution and publishing companies.

For artists not signed to majors and who use different independent distribution companies to get their music on streaming platforms, different collection companies collect the distribution royalties.

There are companies such as Tunecore, Distrokid, and Vydia that collect this distribution revenue, and take a cut based on the agreed cut with the artists before paying the artists their cut.

A music catalogue is a collection of songs or albums owned by a particular person. It’s the total sum of the copyright registered to an entity’s name be it an artist or a record label.

Sometimes, artists sign contracts that pass off the rights to every song recorded by them to the record label for a particular period. In that case, the record label owns the artist’s calatogue during the duration of that contract, and at the expiration, the catalogue then returns to the artist.

Some artists with attractive catalogues have sold their catalogues to investment companies who become the new owners and find creative ways to exploit the catalog.

Whoever owns the catalogue owns the right to the music therein and is entitled to royalties that accrue to such rightsholder from the exploitations of the catalogue.

Whoever owns several copyrights to their name has a catalogue.

This includes songwriters, recording artists, producers, and record labels.

Previously, Judge Donnelly had ordered R. Kelly to pay nearly $28,000 from his prison inmate account to address outstanding fines. The embattled R&B singer is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for his 2021 convictions on charges of racketeering and sex trafficking in New York.

As part of his sentencing in 2022, R. Kelly, along with UMG and Sony Music Entertainment, was collectively handed a half-million-dollar bill to be paid to the victims of sexual abuse.

The court believed that both music giants were “in possession of property” belonging to R. Kelly, equivalent to the $504,289 in restitution fees and criminal fines that he still owes.

However, the recent ruling clarifies that Sony Music will no longer be responsible for making payments towards this particular bill. Instead, R. Kelly’s royalties with Universal will be used to cover these financial obligations.

The development comes after a nearly three-decade-long trail of allegations against R. Kelly, culminating in his 2021 convictions. The high-profile trial revealed how he had allegedly used employees and intermediaries to lure fans and aspiring singers into sexually abusive and controlling conditions.

These conditions included claims of victims being locked in rooms without food or access to a bathroom for days.

R. Kelly was also found guilty of coercing minors into sexual activity and producing sex tapes involving a minor.

His legal troubles further escalated when the 2019 Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” aired, featuring detailed accounts from his alleged victims. The series played a pivotal role in turning public opinion against him, despite much of the information having been public for years.

By the time of his imprisonment, R. Kelly’s substantial income from touring and recorded music, which had previously funded his legal defense efforts, had significantly diminished.

This latest development underscores the ongoing legal repercussions and financial consequences faced by the once-renowned artist.

It also serves as a reminder of the enduring impact of the #MeToo movement and the determination of the justice system to hold individuals accountable for their actions.

Indigenous Nigerian artist, Olanipekun  Olatubosun, popularly known as Trod, has addressed claims of siphoning the royalties linked to the songs of late rapper, Dagrin.

Naija News recalls that Dagrin’s mother had recently asked for financial aid from Nigerians.

In a viral video, the aged woman disclosed that she now sells on the street to make a living.

Reacting to the trending video, Nigerians called out Trod, who is a step-brother to the late rapper, and accused him of profiting from Dagrin’s song proceeds while his family struggled.

Responding to the allegation on his official Twitter handle, Trod claimed that he is unaware of any income linked with Dagrin’s songs.

He urged whoever has been receiving royalties from the late rapper’s song to come out.

He tweeted: “I dunno shit about Grins Royalties. The person who has been getting paid for 13 years should come out. DMCE whatever.”

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Naija News recalls that Dagrin died on the 22nd of April 2010 after he was involved in a ghastly motor accident in Lagos.

Samklef, who is currently at daggers drawn with Banky W following his tell-all interview with Ebuka, had called out the label boss for ripping him off his (Samklef’s) royalties for his contribution to Wizkid’s debut album.

Recall that Wizkid released two albums, ‘Superstar’ and ‘Ayo’, under the EME records before he left to chase international acclaim.

Banky had alleged in the said interview that the Big Wiz, as Wizkid is fondly called, owed his record label three albums as stipulated in their contractual agreement.

Seemingly not impressed with Banky’s claims, Samklef, who produced Wizkid’s then hit song, ‘Pakurumo‘, off the ‘Superstar’ album, said in a Live Instagram session that Banky W had failed to properly compensate him (Samklef) for his input in the hit song.

He also posted a similar message on his Twitter page where he wrote: “Claiming all my 11 years royalties for WiZkid super star album in a bit. My Laywers will reach out. It’s 50/50. Anybody wey don collect my money better reach out o! Samkef fine were o! Make dem tag Banky o! My money go don plenty o! Before him go use am campaign for election.”

Hours after, on Saturday morning, Samklef, whose real name is Samuel Oguachuba, hinted on his social media pages that Banky had agreed to pay him “performance royalty” and “mechanical royalty” on the song.

However, things took an interesting turn shortly after when the music producer shared a screenshot to show that his name had been replaced with one Steve Micheal as the composer of ‘Pakurumo.’

Samklef mentioned Banky W’s handle in the caption on the image and urged him to reach out to him for clarity.

“Nigerians make una see o!! Dey took my name off and put Steve Micheal. As composer for pakurumo. @bankywellington how far now ? How did we get to this ? Dm me ur email bro. No time to play. Let’s fix things and move on. @sonymusic @sonymusicafrica,” Samklef’s post read.

In response to the allegation, the EME boss came to the comment section of the post where he asked the music producer to direct his grievances to the proper channel.

Banky, who also distanced himself from the control of the song’s proceeds, cautioned Samklef to desist from peddling his name in the public.

“@samklef I don’t think you understand that my name is not there and was NEVER there. EME’S name is not there. We have never taken a dime of these royalties and never will. We have never controlled them. You need to take this up with whoever is controlling this and for goodness sake stop talking about me. I’m not the one in charge. I’m minding my business, please handle yours,” Banky’s reply read.

Samklef has continued to make suggestive posts on social media since then as watchers hold their breath for the next possible twist.

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