The time has come for us to sanitize our industry. When we criticize others concerning our woes, we must first take stock and examine the little foxes that spoil our vine. This is one of my many write ups on sanitizing the Music Ministry in Nigeria.
One of the major problem with Gospel artist or music ministers in Nigeria is the reckless abuse of copyright both among church leaders and among the practitioners of the trade themselves .
I find it irreconcilable, when I realize that an artist ministering on stage with so much anointing (so called) is actually flying on d wings of a stolen song. There is no amount of spirituality and pious packaging that can diminish the gravity of an Offense so unabashedly committed and without any modicum of contrition or compunction.
The abuse of intellectual property or what I chose to call " the stealing of song" is so rampant in the Nigerian Gospel Music Space.
Very regularly when I stroll across music shops and hear publicity seeking music outlets playing some of our local artist, I cring in self condemnation at my inability to do a thing to stop this menace. How can one explain a situation where an artist wakes up with an intention to release a song and suddenly goes to his or her music archive, picks a song from Kirk Franklin, Don Moen, Isreal Houghton, Buchi, Panam Percy Paul, Asu Ekiye etc, arranges them in a chain format, jumps into a studio and records such songs without permission and release such songs to make money? Remixing people's sweat to survive out of an inexplicable indolence does not make you a true worshiper, even if you speak ten thousand tongues without being filled with the Holy Ghost it does not validate this obvious display of dishonesty and because we call God together, we think contravention of laws does not carry the same weight of penalty in certain parts of the world . To me, that is rubbish and it is highly condemnable and indictable.
Each time, I am inspired to write a song or release a melody, I often ask myself , what inpute do I want to make to the wealth of inspiration on the space. What addition do I have to make to the repatoir existing of songs in d air. I do not think that my stock in trade should be a recycling syndrome although am not against those who are inspired to give a different rendition to an already existing tune. But what I make bold to promote is decency, order, originality etc in our music making .
Recently I had course to host two black American Music ministers for our annual event and coincidentally I was inviting a fellow music minister and comedian to the same event and suddenly it dawned on me that the Nigerian artist and comedian had done remixes of two popular Gospel tracks popularized by these Americans. So I said, Waite a minuite, I need to make some confirmations before i get embarrassed in my own event. I called the Nigerian artist and asked him and The conversation went like this:
Me: Hello Artist, (name withheld) I heard the song"God is Able" and "Days of Elijah " in your Album, did you record these songs with permission?
Artist: which permission Bros ?
Me: Did you obtain the copyright license to do those songs in a commercial package?
His reply was very embarrassing
Artist: which permission again na Bros ? no be the songs wey we Dey sing for church?
Then I told him why I was asking. Two of the artist who had a recent release of those song are on the bill. Judy Jacobs and Darwin Hobbs: then I said,
If you have not done your proper research and confirm the sources from which you released those songs, bro, you may be in some bad shape.
And all of a sudden, the artist became subsumed and tone of voice submerged.
Then he asked, "Bros , how we go do that one na? "
The rest is now history! But let me shock you, do you know that the said Nigerian artist ran away from honoring that invitation?
Now the problem is not just about copying foreign artist without permission . What we fellow Nigerian artist suffer among ourselves is even more devastating. Severally I have heard my songs remixed either consciously and unwittingly by other artist and never remembered receiving a call from anybody about the use of any song. And I am not the only one at the receiving end of this recklessness and lawlessness. These artist who do not write songs, who do not Waite to be inspired, whom I can call mercenaries, who are opportunist shenanigans wake up and want to reap from where they did not sow.
WE cannot continue to operate in this abysmal state of disorder, Simply because we are all in christ. Such artist should now be seen as criminals .
Before we begin to deal with the criminal elements in our ranks, first and foremost , I have begun a process of sensitizing all music ministers in Nigeria with intellectual properties to understand what it means to approach the copy right Commision of Nigeria and register intellectual properties. That's is the beginning of giving the law the power to bite .
I have had many complains of artist whose songs have been "perverted" and used selfishly and indiscriminately and they are helpless because they never registered this materials, they simply got inspired and went to church with the songs and they became church choruses. Under that circumstance , there is actually nothing any body can do to remedy your case.
A very painful scenario was when my friend Godswill told me about his song "eh eh eh eh My God e good o" that was used and became a hit by another Nigeria artist in South Africa. That was a painful one. The facts were so obvious and the inaction of a party can have very devastating consequences .
So my advice is, Please copy right your intellectual properties! Then the law can take its course on all song thieves.
I have authorized the legal department of FOGMMON to seriously study the laws on copyright so we can carry out a clean up operation on the Nigerian Gospel music market especially church musicians.
Any body found gallivanting with stolen music of a member of FOGMMON should be arrested as he or she is coming down from the altar . I know somebody will condemn this , but it is just the beginning of our clean up operation. We must begin to have a way of separating the fake from the real in our ministry. Keep it locked here for more propositions:
My name is Asu Ekiye
The Prince of the Niger Delta