Digital music is catching up in Africa. International and local digital music services, such as The Kleek (owned by Universal Music Group and Samsung), Spinlet, and iRoking, are finding their way into mobile phones of Africans. Most of their content is local. As a result, music labels like The Kleek have signed local artistes.
Already, Premier Records is partnering with Spinlet Limited, an internationally renowned digital music distribution company, to take advantage of Nigeria’s huge mobile telephony base to deliver digital content services. This will make Nigerian music more globally competitive and readily available the world over. One can buy, listen to, share and manage music all within a user-friendly mobile platform. There are currently over 114 million telephone lines in the country.
Already, Spinlet has been able to bridge the gap between content providers of music and consumers by ensuring that their intellectual rights are safeguarded and they get return on investments.
This trend is welcome. In Nigeria, unfortunately, piracy has been the number one enemy of the creative industry, especially music and film. Intellectual property right laws have been ineffective in the country. These laws are there but they are not being implemented. Arrests have been made on infringement of intellectual property laws, yet nothing has been heard thereafter.
On a daily basis, unscrupulous individuals are infringing on the rights of authors, artists, musicians, movie producers, etc by illegally mass-producing books, music, film DVDs and CDs. This has been going on for many years. So, what happened to the copyright and patent laws in the country? They are just gathering dust on the shelves. This has jeopardised the efforts of investors in the creative industry.
With the unfolding trend in digital music distribution, some forward-looking music companies may have found alternative means of protecting their business interests. Others who are not doing so at the moment need to tap into the huge potential that this new opening offers – in spite of drawbacks associated with broadband infrastructure deployment, which has consequently slowed down penetration.
Nigeria is an emerging country that is slowly taking its place in the comity of nations. It must prove its worth in the creative industry beyond oil and gas, information and communications.
The Nigerian creative industry has been adjudged the fastest growing sector for job creation. Films, music, dance, drama, books and paintings are platforms through which more revenue can be generated as the country is already carving a niche for itself as the next emerging destination for foreign and local investments. Therefore, neglecting intellectual property issues will slow down the inflow of investments as it makes it almost impossible for investors in the creative industry to get return on their investments.