The couple of weeks have been a roller coaster of events for citizens of Nigeria. From the president allegedly putting out anti-Igbo tweets on, to twitter taking down his tweet which brought about the threat to ban Twitter in Nigeria and then the actual ban of Twitter in Nigeria while men slept. And oh Democracy day which till date has not lived up to its name. in the words of the musical legend, Fela Kuti “democrazy”. But, to musical heads and lovers of modern-day Nigerian music in Nigeria, our highlight came from a rift between the African bad girl, Tiwa Savage and Seyi Shay.
A lot of things were said in the saloon video but what caught this writer’s attention was a recorded conversation posted by pulse tv between Seyi Shay and ‘babe’. In that voice record, Seyi Shay said “…this is the same person that went to go and sing my song, one of her biggest songs ever, Mr Lova Lova. I co-wrote that song with Ceeza Milli… I called her immediately and said Tiwa, that Mr Lova love song I just saw it congratulations but I need to let you know I co-wrote that song and I need you to give me my metadata, she said no!”.
Guys, it is 2021 and the issue of credits remain a big issue in the creative industry, particularly the music industry.
CREDITS ARE IMPORTANT AS THEY GET
You could say everyone’s in the studio just ‘vibing’, well every “vibe” that comes out of that studio session as a song needs to be credited to the individuals involved. Look at it this way, technically a person who fixes door handles in a house gets paid for that service because he was involved in building the house.
“Oh all he did was just fix the keys, that’s not a big deal”
But he fixed it, you wanted it fixed and now it is. You’re obliged to pay for that service. It’s the same way it works with credits. Most times when you look up credits of songs released in the USA, it’s long like credits in a movie. Because down to the person who just added literally one kick or riff to the beat is credited. Here in Nigeria we continue to miss the mark and in turn end up cheating music creatives.
Sad reality we’ve found ourselves in but truth is creative lives matter too. The question is; can they be protected?
WHAT IS THE STRUCTURE?
This writer argues that buying equipment and setting up a studio in the free room at your crib does not equate to proper structure. Neither does signing what looks like a contract on the bed with a “bic biro”. Music is beyond what happens in the studio. It is a business that must be treated as such at all times. Shout out to Mavin records and Chocolate city for designing labels that have lasted over 9 years.
Currently, in Nigeria, we do not have a structure that protects behind-the-scenes people. The only semblance of structure is built around the artist forgetting that it is beyond that. That structure naturally contains signed documents with the names of everyone who contributed to a single or an album including their cuts. The structure ensures that due diligence is done and the song has been cleared by the appropriate quarters before release. Of course, it isn’t all black and white, mistakes happen but can we first create a working structure?
What happens to the creatives when they are not properly credited?
EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF
At the end of the day, in Nigeria it’s all business. When you’re cheated on a que, it’s just business. When we fail to create proper structure, we get this situation where everyone tries to find their own way around the system to get the bag. It’s the way of the world.
In a follow up recorded phone call conversation that was played by pulse journalist, Motolani Aleke on the terms and conditions podcast, a twelve minutes’ conversation between Seyi Shay and Tiwa Savage. This was days after Mr Lova Lova came out. The name ‘Ceeza Milli’ was mentioned a couple of times. He gave the song to Tiwa Savage. When listening to the phone conversation you can conclude that Mr Ceeza is corny, which he might be. But at the end of the day, he understands how the system works and used it to his advantage. He should not have done so but he did and the structure enabled him.
That is what the Nigerian music industry looks like now and won’t change if nothing is done.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
So far 2021 looks like everyone understands the assignment. A foundation has been laid. For an industry that has some of the greatest talents in the world, a foundation still is as but it’s a step in the right direction. If everyone begins to pay lawyers, build a great team and create music like it should be done, then we can move on but for now, we will reiterate until the point is driven home.