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May 9, 2016

How easy is it to breach a Record Label contract in Nigeria Today?

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Written by: Makuochi Okafor
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The Nigerian Judiciary may not be the firmest in the world, the common Nigerian may have no regard for Laws, the judiciary or any matter relating to such. This behavior may have been as a result of the continual failure of offenders getting properly punished by the law, or the obvious cases of big fishes being “above the law”. Over the years, a gradual buildup of disregarding the law and its consequences might have been ingrained in the general character of most Nigerians, “after all, what really can the law do?”

This popular notion might be the same reason why some Nigerian musicians will put down their signatures on dotted lines in contracts unread, ununderstood or misunderstood. In this vein, I must state how wise and extremely important it is for artistes to read, comprehend and digest every contract presented to them, the advice and counsel of an entertainment lawyer may also be wise. With the fast growth of the Nigerian Music Industry, the need for structure has become pertinent now more than ever.

Recently, HF Music dragged their former artiste Zeez to court for a case of breach of contract. The label was said to have sued the artiste for failure to record songs as earlier contained in his contract. Recently, there seems to have been a sudden wake of labels dragging their artistes to court, what’s the need really? “After all, what really can the law do?” could there be a possible change in the mindset of Label owners, has the Nigerian judicial system finally awoken to the use of the wand of Justice to punish and to pardon? Are Nigerians suddenly taking confidence in this wand?

These questions might have their answers in the following statements: Zeez has been ordered by a Lagos state High court to refund the sum of 22.3 Million Naira to HF Music following his inability to adhere to his contract with them. The above sum is being projected as the total amount spent by HF Music through various advances made to and on his behalf, from the commencement date of his contract with the label until he point when it was breached by him.

Need I say any further? The toothless puppy has finally grown into a fearful wolf. Walking out on or breaching a record label contract in Nigeria today may not be as easy as it was 5 – 10 years ago. As artistes are waking to the relevance of the law, intellectual property and respect for the both, Labels on the other hand are clearly waking to a respect contracts and the value of money spent on artistes.

This is a healthy change in the industry and I endorse this change. “After all, what really can the law do?”


By: Makuochi Okafor



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