Nollywood Q&A | 3 June 2014 15:54 CET

Efe Omorogbe, Other COSON Directors Use Our Money To Build Houses—African China

The music industry in Nigeria is ever growing and it is gradually getting the respect it deserves, thanks to the young generation of artistes who have taken it far beyond the shores of Nigeria.

Before now, not much was heard about royalties paid to artistes for the use of their intellectual properties for broadcast purposes. Some days ago, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) signed a historic deal with members of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and the Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN). This was after BON and IBAN had directed its members in 2013 to stop the airplay of COSON members.

For 'conscious' music artiste, African China, the body has not been faithful in the delivery of collected royalties for artistes. In this exclusive interview with, the Festac-based singer alleged some members of COSON, especially Efe Omorogbe, of building houses. This interview is the concluding part of the interview granted to us by African China, where he suggested that Nigeria should should split.Enjoy.

You were recently quoted as saying you love females and as such, you can't chase them away?

Yes, it was said in an interview on a radio station. I said I cannot chase my female fans away because they are the ones that make us. They make musicians. That's something that my wife knows that I will never ever chase my female fans away because I am not a snub.

Comparing when you started in the music industry and now, what is your assessment on this issue?

We will rate the industry to be a wonderful one now. The industry is big, trusts me, I am enjoying everything. The figure is very big now, but when it comes to the music aspect, I would say we have talented guys in the industry with wonderful voices, but lyrical content is zero. But when it comes to voices, I rate as number one and when it comes to the pay, we are number one.

Now to the issue of piracy, who should we blame, is it the artistes who are releasing various songs every minute or the marketers?

Blame the artistes. I have been in the position where an artiste comes to me and say I want to go and pay the Alaba international market guys 400,000, 500,000 for them to put my song on a mix-tape. Once upon a time, there was this Alaba guy who came to me and told me that some of my colleagues come to him to put their song on a mix-tape, I thought he came to me to discuss market deals, I never knew he came for something else. I was interested and so I asked him how we can work with? He now advised me that I should put my song, the Boko Haram song 'Anugboko' on a mix-tape and I should just bring 450k. I told him he was a fool that once upon a time, I use to pay 350k to stop you guys from pirating my songs. I told him that before they came into Alaba market, the first pirate that Nigerian government arrested and the Nigerian government released then without our knowledge. Then NCC called us that they have caught a pirate that we should come and sign. We went to their office at Oyingbo, we signed that they should carry on the case. The people were released, till tomorrow, 'wey dey go so, we no know wetin happen to those people'. I told the guy that do you know that I paid 200k, 300k, 450k with 'abeg just for you guys not to pirate my songs so that I could sell.' He said 'ehhhh that was then.' Now you are asking me to still come back and pay you 400k to pirate the song, who is a fool, did you do the Maths? I use to pay you not to pirate my songs, don't touch my intellectual job and now you are asking me to pay you to touch the job. I told him to get out, that African China is a household name and it has come to stay. African China is the pioneer of the Nigerian music industry. Even if I don't have the kind of money artistes have now, I will tell you that African China is the pioneer of the Nigerian music industry. African China is a living legend.

You did say that lyrical wise, artistes of today are poor, are you saying there is none that you could give thumbs up?

No, nobody.

Are you sure, not even 2face?

No. The only person I can give thumbs up for is African China.

Do you belong to any musical organization like COSON?

Yes I am. I registered with COSON and PMAN.

With the recent issues going on about artistes royalties and banning of artistes songs, what's your take? Besides, how is this royalties paid?

The thing is, COSON collects on behalf of the artiste. But the way they are going about it, it's not the right way because there has to be a law guiding it. Let's talk about promotion; the artiste labours to promote that song, and at the end of the day, you now go to the radio station and say don't play these song, do you have another job for me? You don't have another job for me, so why will you ask a radio station not to play my song, when there is no law guiding it. The radio station has every right to play the song because it's for promotion.

COSON is saying that if you play these guys songs, you pay them some amount of money, isn't that fair enough?

It's fair enough in the sense that it is becoming personal business, retired benefits for some people. They are making use of people that are still relevant which is not good. Now, they have moved from music to movie, that's to tell you how bad it is. Quote me, they are not going the right way. It is becoming personal business. If I have my way, I will quit from COSON. Infact, I am already quitting. I am just waiting for my contract to be over. Once it's over, I am leaving.

Do you sign contract and how long?

Yes we sign contract and it is for two years.

Do you pay to renew your contract?

No, we don't pay. When they collect money on your behalf, they get their percentage out of it. So once the two years is complete, I am not going to renew that contract. The royalties they bring is peanuts. They bring us peanuts.

Who brings the peanut?

COSON themselves are the ones bringing the peanuts. They sue for millions. If you sue for millions, where is the million cheque? At the end of the day, you bring me 15,000 naira; sometimes it is not even up to N5000. Sometimes, out of so many millions you sue people and I even get text messages of that, ah, oga, calm down now. Efe Omorogbe is buying houses everywhere; he is one of the board members. I will mention names.

Do you have anybody that collects the money on your behalf, like your manager or you collect it directly from COSON?

I will speak for the managers, majority of us do not go through our managers. We collect the money ourselves. Example is me. We never contacted our managers. We did it on our own, it was selfish move.

So, would you say you regret the selfish move?

Of course yes, I am regretting it. We should have gone through our managers. At least, I would have had someone to blame.

Fela, Bob Marley, Stella Monye, Sunny Okosun, and others, did live performances, but today digital sound has taken over thereby killing live performance. What is the reason behind this?

I would say technology advancement, but I will also say there is technology advancement on live performance. It has nothing with you performing live. Like Lucky Dube, his keyboardist plays not less than six keyboards. All the tones will be brought out. Like one thing a brother is doing, he is trying, he loops. He does what we call looping, that's technology advancement. But some of them or one other person that does looping that I hate so much is D'banj. I hate his looping. He loops and loops including the voice. I watched one his performance on the internet, I was so pissed. You could still hear the backup voice underneath. If you want to loop, you loop well, loop with the instrumentals, go to the studio and burn out the data that's the way they do it.

Artistes prefer buying of songs then writing their own songs, is it creative for the industry?

Yes, it is good. Michael Jackson bought songs. You could be a good singer and not be a good song writer. You could be a good song writer and not be a good singer. So, it helps both parties. You can still be in the industry and make your money even while not singing.

Don't you think buying of song and making money from it is using another person's intellect?

Yes, but, you would have paid him and the performance you are getting, he cannot get that because you are the one doing the singing. If he sings it, it will not sell like you and we do acknowledge the writers of those songs example of someone that does that is Davido, 2Face does that and I do not too. Before, I don't allow people to write for me, but now, I engage other people also. Some just wrote a song for me which am working on currently.

Who produces your beat?

Various producers. First, you must be a reggae artiste before I can work with you. I am a dancehall person and so, you must be a good reggae producer.

What should we be expecting from African China?

African China is going to return to the old school style of dancing because that is what my fans like about me, the dancing thing. Now, I want to do more of the showbiz. I will be doing more of dancing and acting too because acting is my hubby, while music is my profession. I have featured in some movies Girls in the Ghetto, Final World Cup, and so on, it's just a lot.

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