Ayo Shonaiya, the producer of ‘Afrobeats: The Backstory’, says song licensing took 50 percent of the budget for the 12-episode documentary.

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The documentary, which tells the story of the Nigerian sounds as far back as the 1990s, featured hit songs from old-timers like Eedris Abudulkareem, Weird MC, Olu Maintain, OJB Jezreel, and many others.

In a chat with TheCable Lifestyle, on Tuesday, the entertainment lawyer said he doesn’t believe a documentary of such magnitude should be done without a “thorough and diligent” use of music.

He said it took him a year before he could get the licensing of all the songs in the documentary, adding that some of the artistes he approached to use their songs gave their permission without collecting money.

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He also emphasized the need for licensing in the music industry.

“I don’t believe you can make a documentary on music without using the music. So, if i’m talking about Shina Peters, I want you to listen to him, that’s why you have to license the music to use it,” he said.

“Without telling you the figure, the licensing of songs alone is half the budget of the documentary, because I have to play the music and videos. And that’s part of the ecosystem of the industry.

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“It’s not about ‘they booked us for one show’, and ‘we are collecting money from Boomplay’ as per digital downloads or streaming. Licensing is the use of the music, and if I want to use your music for reference, even if I’m talking about you, I have to pay you.

“The licensing of these twelve episodes took me a year and I’m not kidding. Because, first of all, you have to find out who owns the right and if there may be more than one person, you have to find out and get approval from the people that own the right before they can send you an invoice and you pay for it and then you can use it.

“That was a mountain for me to climb for a whole year because I couldn’t do a documentary without the music. It is very important. I think it is another thing that is going to blossom over the year. Rights, licensing, publishing.”

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