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State of music publishing in Nigeria

Last updated on November 16, 2018

state of music publishing in Nigeria
Simi is a renowned Nigerian songwriter and recording artist (Image credit: X3M Music)

Why are we not seeing enough Nigerian music placed in TV or radio commercials and in Nollywood movies?

Asides income generated from physical CD sales, digital downloads and streaming (mechanical royalties), Nigerian songwriters and artists should be getting royalties from avenues like Nollywood and I dear say Hollywood movies. Yes, because it’s happened already.

2face’s classic ‘African queen’ was used as a soundtrack in the Hollywood movie “Phat Girlz”.

State of Music publishing in Nigeria
African Queen by 2face is one of the original motion picture soundtracks for the movie Phat Girlz (Credit: Amazon)

There are a ton of Nigerian movies where Nigerian music is played at will, without due permission, and licensing.

In public places, where Nigerian songs are played – like restaurants and bars,  most of the business owners don’t have the required Public Performance licenses to play these songs at their venues that should be earning songwriters and publishers performance royalties.

Music publishing needs to be taken up seriously, as there is a lot of money being left on the table. It’s been said however that the process involved in music publishing – finding out illegal music users, licensing, calculating royalty payouts for artists, labels, songwriters and publishers, and more is a really complex feat but it’s worth it in the end.

Music publishers match songwriters with artists or their labels who may be needing fresh inspiration for their artists. But it’s funny how some Nigerians here think  – that a recording artist or performer who cannot write his own songs but depend on a songwriter is not a true artist. How shallow minded is that?

 Good music publishers join the rest of the music industry to fight the scourge of piracy as it affects their business of seeking licensing opportunities for their songwriters that would result in royalty income streams from placements in TV shows, commercials, video games, YouTube vlogs, and much more platforms where music is used to enhance a product or service.

They go and above beyond for their songwriters, working with labels to bring out the best of artists who have performed the songs by their songwriters( artists can be songwriters themselves) by marketing and promotion of their releases.

I would like to see more of Nigerian songs cutting across Hip-Hop, Soul, R&B, Pop, Rock and the Alternative genre among others, placed in Nollywood movie and TV shows.

There is no denying the powerful effect of an ideal placed music in certain moments of a Youtube vlog, movie or TV show. x

State of music publishing in Nigeria's music industry
Isoken-Movie had quite a number of really deserving Nigerian songs synced with its storytelling. (Credit:

It’s nice to see the movie “Isoken” plugging in a number of Nigerian tunes particularly songs by some of the new school artists into some of its scenes, though it is not known for sure if sync license fees were duly paid out as international best practices require.

Apparently, there doesn’t seem to be a defined role for music supervisors in Nollywood – Music supervisors as seen in Hollywood are specialists who look out for the best-suited music to be placed in specific movies and TV show scenes. Producers seem to be taking on this role of music supervisors in this side of the world if my findings are anything to go by.

Video games on PlayStations and X-boxes, mobile app games, YouTube videos, Documentaries and other platforms that use music to enhance the viewer experience for commercial gain should be featuring some of the finest Nigerian music – generating sync royalties for publishers and songwriters.

I don’t see why Nigerian ad agencies aren’t using selected Nigerian music for brands in television commercials and radio ads.  This is another brilliant move creative agencies should be exploring asides using these musicians as brand endorsers and ambassadors. Though I get there is a budget to be worked around with when creatives strategize and brainstorm on promotional ideas for a brand, it wouldn’t be out of place to deliberate on infusing Nigerian music into the strategy where it makes sense to.

The Nigerian music industry is ripe for music publishing. It is time to step up and disrupt the status quo. The sheer amount of good music out there deserves to be heard and appreciated through the various means music publishing provides.

There are only a handful of music publishing setups in the Nigerian scene right now; it remains to be seen how effective they are in discharging their duties.

COSON, a statutory collecting society for musical works and sound recordings in Nigeria, amidst internal conflicts, is doing what it can to make the music pay for its artists and songwriters.

Artists, labels and other music stakeholders need to take the bull by the horn and start putting the structures in place for music publishing and beyond.

Yours musically.


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    • You should check out Yoast plugin. Though you should also know that it takes time for you to start showing on the first page of the search result if you are a new publisher, and particularly if the keyword you trying to rank for is very competitive. Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that gives you an idea of how competitive a keyword or set of keywords are. Cheers!

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