MEDIATION AND THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
Many Nigerians are making their living from the entertainment industry: music, comedy and movies have become a hit in Nigeria, across Africa and even in other continents.
This has made the potential in the industry encouraging and very rewarding.
The music industry is constantly growing with many young creatives becoming artistes and hoping to “blow”” one day. This yearning may make some artistes enter into contracts that can be very unrewarding thereby bringing disputes in future.
In the last 5 years, the Nigerian music industry has seen many lawsuits by artistes against their record labels, on different grounds.
In some cases, these lawsuits are still in court fostering long months of rancor and bitterness among parties involved.
We have seen artistes like Harrysong, Brymo, Vector the viper, Kiss Daniel and very recently, Ycee among others call it quits with their various record labels who they either fell out with or for allegedly breaching contractual obligations.
Disputes are largely unavoidable in human relations or business transactions, and the Entertainment industry comprising of film, dance, music, comedy etc is no different.
For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on the music industry:
One dispute resolution technique that is often disregarded in settling disputes in the music industry is Mediation.
Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding and private dispute resolution process in which a trained neutral person helps the parties to reach a negotiated settlement.
Some highly regarded features of mediation are; it is a flexible process, it is conducted confidentially, the Mediator is a neutral person, the Mediator actively assists parties in working towards a negotiated agreement, the parties are in ultimate control of the decision to settle and the terms of a sett lement and finally it is a voluntary process.
Essentially, the music industry, is a business made up of different stakeholders like the music producers, talent managers, songwriters, recording artistes and many others.
In Nigeria, disputes commonly arise from the profit sharing formula, clauses in contractual agreements which seem exploitative, unfair treatment towards artistes and a long list of other issues.
In the event of disputes among these different stakeholders, the courts are usually the first resort, and what’s worse for any business than bad publicity, large amounts of money in lawsuits, and unsound business relationships with important stakeholders??
This is where Mediation comes in; disputing parties may voluntarily submit themselves to a body like the Lagos Multi – Door Court House (LLMDC), LACIAC, or to a private independent mediator who will facilitate the dispute resolution process and help disputants to reach a Settlement Agreement based on terms that parties will suggest and agree to during the medi ation proceedings.
Now here are some interesting things about the mediation process:
Firstly as a party, you can choose to be represented strictly by your lawyer or you can choose not to have a lawyer represent you although it is advised that you do.
Secondly, depending on the disposition of parties towards the mediation process, it is possible to settle within a day thus saving substantial amounts of money that would have been used at litigation..
Again, parties get to communicate freely during the mediation proceedings in a non – formal way and can air their fears and reservations concerning their current business structure and agree on other different terms in the Settlement Agreement or agree to engage in further negotiations. Most importantly is the fact that parties get to still maintain and sustain their existing relationships..
Mediation truly can save record labels and artistes a lot of stress and can help to greatly reduce ill feelings which usually grow as the dispute takes longer.
Faster settlements are reached and business can go on smoothly as usual.