I’m ready to arrest pirates – D’Banj
He has a mission in the music industry and that is simply to fight piracy. At just 28, multiple award-winning artiste, Oladapo Oyebanji, a.k.a. D'Banj has worked so hard to bag the coveted United Nation's youth ambassador award. And with a robust knowledge of the entertainment sector, the young star, who has equally been a victim of piracy says he is ready to combat the crime, using his music and resources as potent tools.
Last June 9, on occasion of his 28th birthday, D'Banj paid a courtesy visit to the Adebambo Aderopo-led Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) in Abuja. He used the forum to announce his mission and to affirm his commitment to the cause by pledging part of the proceeds from his next album, The Entertainer, to assist NCC in fighting piracy.
According to D'Banj, he has offered himself to lead the crusade against piracy based on principle and as a major stakeholder in the sector. Hence he has vowed to fight the battle on behalf of his colleagues whom he said are also eager to join him having been victims at one time or the other.
“I have a burden. And that is to reduce piracy of musical works at all costs. This is why I have come to seek the support of the NCC and to lend my own support to the collective battle against pirates of our works,” Explained D Banj, who lamented the plight of musicians and other entertainers under the torment of growing piracy.
D Banj also disclosed how despite the global tilt towards digitization, a few countries like Nigeria could still boast of artistes who can make fortunes through sale of albums. His words: “ In Nigeria, we can still release albums and make millions of naira, but piracy is our greatest enemy because in a situation where the demand for our works is greater than supply, the pirates simply fill the gaps with substandard products.”
However, D'Banj raised hopes that he would not relent in his efforts to reduce infringement of artistes' rights by illegal replications.
“ I have spoken with some of my colleagues on the issue and they are eager to support me. Even some of the pirates are now ready to do the right thing if they are recognized…when my job was pirated, I ran to NCC and they rescued me…but I was able to discover, in the process, that government has not been funding NCC as expected. If the commission is well funded; its Strategic Action Against Piracy (STRAP) would work and artistes would be the greatest beneficiaries.
While disclosing his donation to the NCC, D'Banj said: “ On behalf of myself and my colleagues, I hereby pledge a certain proceeds from my next album to the NCC. I will like to call it STRAP Fund and this is to register my support for the commission's anti-piracy efforts.”
The artiste, whose pledge was welcomed by the DG, Adebambo Adewopo was equally presented with a plaque award as well as the NCC logo, which he promised to inscribe on his next album. An elated D'Banj also described himself as STRAP ambassador, urging NCC to grant temporary licences to both the MSCN and PMRS to administer artistes' royalties.
His words: “ Royalties fetch us (musicians) money but only a few of us have got royalty dues because MCSN and PMRS are not united. I urge the NCC to grant temporary licences to both collecting societies, so that artistes can access them and make a choice…it's the artistes who are suffering from the crisis as money won't be coming to us as long as the two societies are at logger heads.”
The duo of D'Banj and Adewopo later embraced each other to announce a new dawn in the entertainment sector. Both agreed on the need for government and artistes to work together to fight piracy. They acknowledged that everyone should shun acrimony, bitterness and misunderstanding of the past to embrace a new path of unity and peace in the interest of Nigerian artistes.
Born in 1980, D'Banj, who has since engaged UAC's Mr. Biggs to assist in selling his albums as a strategy to beat pirates is equally recruiting real entertainers through his periodic Talent Hunt programme. He insists on raising authentic entertainers such as songwriters, rappers and percussionists, rather than just singers.
Asked to describe his main mission as an artiste, D'Banj who abandoned his Mechanical Engineering course at the university to pursue a career in music, and to the annoyance of his parents, said: “ Music is a message. At a particular stage of my life, I got an opportunity to travel abroad to play music when I was a third year student of Mechanical Engineering. But my mother said I should not go. She insisted I must not do music because there is no future in it…Today my mother is my financial manager as she later accepted me and my career having seen what I have done both abroad and in Nigeria through music.”