BusinessDay

Now the music can pay

…as PMAN seeks to sustain royalty, welfare of musicians with new initiative

When Fatai Olagunju, a veteran juju musician, who was popularly known as Fatai Rolling Dollar, died on June 12, 2013, his remains were committed to mother earth at his uncompleted building site in Ikorodu area of Lagos.

Although the veteran juju maestro, who died at 85 years, lived at Millennium Estate, a low cost housing estate in New Oko Oba, Lagos; the house was a gift from the Lagos State government.

There have been cases where some musicians, especially the reggae genre artistes, who were rave of the moment decades ago, are now wretched and many wonder why.

The above scenarios underscores the predicament of most Nigerian musicians, who entertained the world at their peak, but often resort to the public for help, especially to sort out health challenges.

The irony is also that such musicians need not to suffer when they have lots of money that should accrue to them in royalties from places their music is played across the world, from organisations using their music for business, from hotels, from telecom companies, recording companies and streaming outfits.

However, while the musicians share in the blame, a lot point to the Collective Management Organisations (CMOs), who they accuse of gross rip-off of royalties accruing to the musicians.

To curb the sad development, the Performing Musicians of Nigeria (PMAN) has initiated an innovative platform that will ensure that music pays. It is a platform that will gather musicians on a united front, amid fostering their welfare, securing their future and ensuring a win-win situation for the musicians and their business partners.

The initiative is the first biometric card for members of PMAN, which is being rolled out in partnership with Zenith Bank across the country.

Read also: PMAN partners Zenith to launch biometrics card for musicians

Unveiling the card at PMAN’s NEC meeting at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, recently, Pretty Okafor, president, PMAN, explained that the cards, will serve many useful purposes, especially the financial and health wellbeing of the musicians and boosting digital literacy among members.

The biometric card, according to Okafor, will boost PMAN’s database for efficient planning, it offers health insurance, makes pension plan easier, royalty collection accurate and seamless, offers a global platform and support to members, among other benefits.

Regretting that one of the major challenges musicians face is the rip-off by CMOs, whose dubious actions deny musicians access to royalties from their works, the PMAN president said that is over with the biometric card and its platform for digital literacy.

“With the biometrics PMAN and its members will have the opportunity to monitor works of members across the global, ensure that the right royalties are collected because our members are now equipped to monitors their music against the prior practice of only the CMOs, who quote figures they like as royalties due to the musicians”, he said.

The monitoring seems easier now as the association is set to scale up the skills of members in digital literacy, broad database for better collaboration with the Nigerian Copyright Commission, better understanding of intellectual property laws and practice to inform them on what to demand from the CMOs and appropriate action when they default or shortchange the musicians.

John Asein, director general of Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), sees a better future for musicians with the biometric card initiative.

He is most delighted with the broad based data it will offer the commission, helping it to fight in its favour and further fostering mutual collaborations with other stakeholders in the industry.

“The biometric card is a huge milestone for the association and a signal that PMAN is open for better collaboration with industry stakeholders. If you get serious with your craft, others will get serious with you too. Now the music can play and pay”, he said.

Considering the many court cases, factionalism and bickering PMAN has witnessed and yet standing, the leadership of the association thinks the biometric card is the game changer and common ground for all.

Sunny Neji and Zaaki Azay, 1st and 2nd vice presidents of the association respectively, described the biometric card as major progress in PMAN over many years now.

For them, the progress is coming because of the synergy and unity in the association now, as well as a series of court judgments that have authenticated and reaffirmed Pretty Okafor as the national leader, while prohibiting any act of factionalism within the musicians’ union.

“We have played and now is the time for our music to pay us and the biometric card will ensure that”, Azay, the Benue State-born musician said.

From the bank’s angle, PMAN has elevated the association and Nigerian musicians to a higher level of financial literacy.

According to Ugochi Onyekwelu, representative of the bank, the biometric card, which will have the feel and looks of PMAN, can do everything a payment card can do; it will serve as an identity card, for basic payment solution and for capturing data of members for better planning and other needs.

“Our cards are contactless solutions and can be used for all transactions including international. It will also offer PMAN decentralized offerings as members can get the cards at any of our over 400 branches nationwide”, she said.

The ball is on PMAN’s court and the members are expected to embrace the innovation for a better life and secure future. “Let the music play and pay”, most of the musicians insisted.