Everything You Need to Know about Copyright and Licensing as an Artist in Nigeria


The Nigerian music industry is vibrant and diverse, producing world-renowned musicians and innovative musical styles. As a musician, it is essential to protect your creative work and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your talents and efforts. I will be highlighting the importance of copywriting and licensing in the Nigerian Music Industry, offering valuable insights on how to protect your music and earnings. Get ready for an amazing discovery.

History of Copyright Law in Nigeria

Copyright law was ushered into Nigeria by the English Copyright Act 1911, which was made applicable to Nigeria by an order-in-council under Section 25 of the Act of 1911 of Great Britain. Nigeria applied the 1911 Act until when it got replaced with the Copyright Act of 1970. 

The 1970 Act was deficient as it could not counter the increasing rate of piracy and other copyright infringements, especially with the need to provide adequate remedial measures and increase penal enforcement.

This brought about the birth of the 1988 Copyright Act. 

In  2004, the Copyright Act Cap C28 LFN 2004 (the act) was further amended to include musical, Artistic, sound recording, broadcasting, and Literary works. It became the primary copyright law that governed copyright protection in Nigeria until it was revoked in 2023. March 17th, 2023, was when the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria repealed the Copyright Act Cap C28 LFN 2004 (the Old Act) and re-enacted the Copyright Act 2022 (the Act ). The newly signed bill will be referred to as the Copyright Act of 2023

The Act introduces significant changes which will impact creatives and further strengthen the exercise of their rights, particularly safeguarding audio-visual content in the digital space. It provides a detailed explanation of copyright for all forms of creatives. It enhances the rights of creatives and imposes stricter punishments for criminal violations like using someone’s work without the person’s knowledge or lifting any form of internet content like music recordings, audio files, movies, images, etc., without getting consent or giving credit to the creator of that content.

Understanding Copyright Laws in Nigeria

Understanding copyright laws in Nigeria is key to knowing how to protect your music and earnings. 

A copyright is a legal concept that grants exclusive rights to creators of original works. Copyright protects the works of musicians, artists, songwriters, authors, composers, and other creatives. According to the Copyright Act of 2023, it is a criminal act for someone to lift your work from the internet without your permission.

The amazing thing about this act is that it is concentrating more on the digital realm and guarantees digital content protection. Seeing that most works are been showcased on social media and the world is a global village, It aims at addressing the indiscriminate use of your intellectual property on the internet and empowers you to take legal action against anyone found culpable.

Benefits of Music Copyright Protection

Music copyright grants you exclusive rights to your compositions, recordings, and performances, ensuring that you have control over how your music is used and that you receive fair compensation for your artistry.

Understanding the benefits you have through copyright is essential for several reasons. 

  1. Firstly it prevents others from using your work without permission. This protection allows you to control the use of your music and ensures that you are recognized as the creator.
  2. Secondly, music copyright provides you with legal remedies in case of infringement. If someone uses your music without permission, you have the right to take legal action and seek compensation for damages or royalty for the reproduction of your work. This not only protects your financial interests but also acts as a deterrent for potential infringers.
  3. Lastly, copyright allows you to monetize your music effectively. With copyright protection, you can license your music for various purposes, such as film and television synchronization, streaming platforms, advertisements, and live performances. This opens up opportunities for additional revenue streams and maximizes your earning potential as a Nigerian musician.

How to Register Your Music for Copyright in Nigeria

Registering your music for copyright in Nigeria is a straightforward process that provides you with official proof of ownership and protection of your works. To register your music, follow these steps:

  • Gather the necessary documentation: Before registering, make sure you have all the required documents, including copies of your compositions, recordings, or performances, along with any agreements or licenses related to your music.
  • Visit the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) website: The NCC is the government agency responsible for copyright registration in Nigeria. Visit their website to access the registration portal and download the necessary forms.
  • Complete the registration forms: Fill out the forms with accurate information about the music you are registering, including titles, authors, and dates of creation. Be sure to include any additional details requested by the NCC.
  • Submit your application: Prepare a physical copy of your completed forms, along with the required documentation, and submit them to the NCC office. Pay the registration fee and obtain a receipt as proof of submission.
  • Wait for confirmation: The NCC will review your application and, if everything is in order, issue you a copyright certificate. This certificate serves as official proof of your copyright ownership and is vital for protecting your music.

 Collecting Societies that Help Protect Your Rights 

There are a number of Collecting societies in Nigeria. We have Performing rights organizations (PROs). They are the body responsible for collecting income on behalf of songwriters and music publishers when a song is publicly broadcast or performed. In Nigeria, the Musical Copyrights Society of Nigeria (MCSN) collects performance rights royalties for a range of uses on behalf of musicians. Another collecting society in Nigeria is the Copyright Society of Nigeria which are responsible for licensing and collection of performance and mechanical royalties generated by several types of use on behalf of musicians. 

In Nigeria, the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) is the primary collecting society responsible for administering performing and mechanical rights on behalf of members. By joining a collecting society, you can benefit from their expertise in licensing, royalty collection, and distribution. These societies also play a vital role in advocating for the rights of musicians and ensuring that they receive fair compensation for the use of their music.

Exploring Different Types of Music Licenses

Understanding the different types of music licenses is vital for maximizing your earning potential and ensuring that your music is used appropriately. Here are a few common types of licenses:

  • Mechanical License: This license grants permission for the reproduction and distribution of your compositions. It is required when your music is recorded and released by other artists or used in a physical or digital format.
  • Synchronization License: A synchronization license allows your music to be used in conjunction with visual media, such as films, television shows, or advertisements. This license is essential for securing placements that can expose your music to a wider audience.
  • Performance License: A performance license is necessary when your music is performed publicly, either live or through broadcast platforms. This license ensures that you receive royalties when your music is played on the radio, television, or live venues.
  • Master Use License: When someone wants to use your recorded music in a new work, such as a remix or sampling, they need a master use license. This license grants them the right to use your specific recording.

Steps to Securing Your Earnings as a Nigerian Musician

While copyright protection safeguards your music, it is also essential to take steps to secure your earnings as a Nigerian musician. Here are some practical strategies to consider:

  • Establish a strong brand: Building a strong brand as a musician helps to differentiate you from others in the industry. Develop a unique style, image, and sound that resonates with your audience. It will help enhance your marketability and increase your earning potential.
  • Diversify your income streams: Relying solely on music sales or live performances can be risky. Explore other avenues to generate income, such as merchandise sales and gaining sponsorships through podcasting, endorsements, and licensing opportunities. 
  • Negotiate fair contracts: When entering into agreements with record labels, managers, or other industry professionals, take your time to review the contract properly and have a clear goal of what you want to achieve as a music artist and how the contract aligns with your aspirations. Also, ensure that the terms are fair and protect your rights as an artist. Seek legal advice from an experienced and qualified music lawyer to assist in understanding the implications of the contract before signing.
  • Track your royalties: Keep a diligent record of your music’s usage and earnings. Monitor streaming platforms, radio stations, television networks, and live performances to ensure that you receive proper royalties. Join a collecting society, such as the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), or the Musical Copyrights Society of Nigeria(MCSN), to help you track and collect your royalties effectively.
  • Invest in your music education: You can develop your skills and knowledge as a musician by learning from youtube videos and blogs for free, or better still, paid courses. There’s a lot of information on the internet. Learn creative courses on music production, songwriting, or learning how to play a new instrument. Attend workshops and conferences, and stay updated with industry trends. This not only enhances your artistic abilities but also equips you with the tools to navigate the music industry effectively.


In securing your earnings as a musician in Nigeria, stay woke, and be well-informed about the 2022 Copyright Act and its industry processes. It offers a lot of benefits to musicians like you.

Seek legal advice from a qualified music lawyer who will look out for red flags and explore all the resources available to you before signing any contracts.

Ensure you are duly registered in a collecting society. Not only are you guaranteed copyright protection locally but across the globe.

You will thrive in today’s competitive industry as a musician and be in total control of your earnings if you lay hold on the valuable insights shared in this article.

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