The work and contribution of Nigerian record producers cannot be exaggerated. Sadly, as songwriters, composers and co-collaborators, most are yet to reap benefits for their contribution to the global conquest of a promising genre.
The duties of a typical Nigerian record producer are demanding and multi-layered. He deals with the composition of lyrics and melodies, vocal production and arrangements, audio engineering, guiding the mixing, mastering and recording of audio files. The reason for advocating that they should receive commensurate compensation for work is well founded.
At the moment many Nigerian record production heavyweights are displeased with the level of prosperity attained despite their investment in chart-topping records. The records are streamed and downloaded in their millions. But most record producers get nothing but fleeting accolades. A new found fame that does not translate to earning a living.
In most cases, Nigerian artists and record producers never come to an agreement with respect to the contribution of a record producer in creating a copyright. Usually, the record producer receives a one-time payment (producer fees) before or after the production of the song and does not engage in further discussions on terms of ownership and control of the copyright.
While the one-time payment situation bears semblance with a work for hire agreement, the difference is that a work for hire agreement properly documents the transfer of the copyrights in the composition and sound recording to the artist.
The absence of proper documentation by way of contract leaves a lot of questions on ownership, control and commercial exploitation of the song(s) produced.
While not condemning the one-time payment or work for hire agreement, it is expedient that Nigerian producers assume a more professional role in order to benefit from the current wave of afrobeats. In many cases, an artist earns thousands of dollars on a record, but the producer only earns a miserly one-time fee with no promises of earning future royalties on distribution and publishing.
The above described scenario leaves a bad taste. Sadly, it is quite prevalent in Nigeria.
A record producer’s failure to exert his rights leaves him at the mercy of co-collaborators.
It is advised that record producers acknowledge that there are inherent economic rights attached to their creative endeavors. They must lean on the advice of an experienced music lawyer and document all transactions they engage in.
Beyond the points raised, all record producers should have different standard form contracts in place to guide negotiations when their services are sought and retained.
Every producer must have a posturing of a professional deserving of every benefit accruable from his works. Until producers take this stand, they will earn livelihood at the mercy of other collaborators.
The thoughts expressed above advocates for record producers seizing the bull by the horns and ensuring that they profit from the global exploitation of their works.
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