AKINYEMI AYINOLUWA is a Partner and Co-Founder at HighTower Solicitors and Advocates in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. With his practice spanning over 9 years, he specializes in representing clients in the entertainment, media, creative, digital, culture, tech, marketing, and sports industries. In addition, he provides a full and personal service to businesses, entrepreneurs, and high-net-worth individuals working in these and other wider commercial fields.
Prior to qualifying as a lawyer, Akinyemi was a songwriter, composer, and performer; he was the lead singer of the defunct ‘100 Degrees’ boy band. He prides himself in helping clients understand the value of their intellectual property rights and also helping to build and protect incidental commercial enterprises.
Clients include international artists, filmmakers, event companies, advertising agencies, television companies, festival owners, internet start-ups, record and publishing companies, management companies, models, and celebrities.
YOU WORK WITH SOME OF THE BEST NIGERIAN TALENTS LIKE NORTHBOI. WHO ELSE DO YOU WITH AND WHAT HAS THEIR INTERNATIONAL REACH LOOKED LIKE?
I am fortunate to represent some of Africa’s biggest songwriters and record producers. Northboi has created some of the biggest Afrobeats records in the last two year. Our firm also represents super record producers such as Blaqjerzee, Dapiano, Echo The Guru, TeekayWitty, JayPizzle, Tspize, Doron Clinton, Micon Beatz, and a host of new amazingly gifted and inspired composers and songwriters.
WHAT IS THE MUSIC LANDSCAPE LIKE FOR CREATORS IN NIGERIA?
The landscape is riddled with colorful and dynamic expressions of creativity. The competition is also very stiff. As such, to stay relevant, and remain a part of the conversation, creators need to stay creative, get a business structure that helps seamless productivity of great offerings.
Sadly, there is still a huge gap in acknowledging the value of copyright. Many creators and music executives are yet to exploit copyrights in conformity with global best practices. I am happy to be a part of a collective that actively educates creators in the Nigerian music industry. We organize seminars and invite experienced music professionals to come to teach attendees about the importance of copyrights, contracts, collaboration, wealth creation via music, and industry best practices.
WHAT COMMON OBSTACLES DO YOU AND CREATORS YOU WORK WITH ENCOUNTER, SUCH AS WITH JOINING THEIR LOCAL PRO, AND WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU FOUND ARE BEST TO OVERCOME THESE?
We discovered that many songwriters and creators did not know how anything about affiliating with collecting societies. So we set out to educate members of the songwriting community and help provide useful information for registration with PROs. Since we affiliated with Songtrust, our firm has helped register our clients with PROs of their choosing, globally. We do not believe that we are restricted to the local PROs in Nigeria.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS YOU THINK OTHERS IN YOUR POSITION SHOULD BE LOOKING FOR IN THE PUBLISHERS OR PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATORS THEY WORK WITH?
I like the transparency I enjoy with Songtrust. The company’s officers are very quick to respond to my emails. We even set up meetings periodically, to review the work done so far.
In addition, the technical support and use of technology for efficient delivery of service must be seamless. Songtrust has been fantastic in these areas so far. The Songtrust website is amazing. They help attend to issues in record time.
AS YOU'VE BEEN WORKING WITH PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATION MORE THAN TRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS LATELY, WHY IS THE INDEPENDENCE THAT A PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATOR GIVES YOUR CREATORS SO IMPORTANT TO YOUR STRATEGY?
I believe that choices on ownership of copyright and creative control over compositions are the biggest gains with working with publishing administrators. Creators are the masters of their faith. They are able to make decisions for short-term and long-term purposes. They are not bogged down with any kind of indebtedness and the uncertainties that come with it.
WHAT POSITIVE CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN DURING YOUR TIME WORKING WITH CREATORS IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
The conversations around creators owning their copyrights have gotten louder. I like this. I look forward to seeing the industry adjust their earnings.
HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT SONGTRUST AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK WITH US? WHAT HAS MADE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH US SO SUCCESSFUL?
I heard about Songtrust via Instagram. I watched a video of the famed record producer Kato On The Track. He had great things to say about the company. I then sent an inquiry email, and the response was swift. The officers of the company took time to explain the many moving parts of the administration of compositions, and I was won over by their professionalism and dedication to empowering songwriters. I think, the estimation feature on the website also helped paint a vivid picture of what is obtainable.
IF YOU COULD GIVE ANY ADVICE TO UP-AND-COMING CREATORS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
I would advise that as they master their craft and commit time to study the business of music. They should also acknowledge the importance of copyrights, trademarks, and building a fan base that actively supports their music careers.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR HIGHTOWER IN THE UPCOMING YEARS AND WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE IN NIGERIA AS MORE AND MORE WRITERS EMERGE?
Through our periodic events and other sponsored initiatives, we will continue to empower the Nigerian songwriting community with valuable information, top-notch legal representation, and advice. We want to help cause massive economic prosperity for our clients so that we can change the old and tired narrative of creators getting the shorter end of the stick in the music industry.
We also want to represent more songwriters in other parts of Africa in the next couple of years.
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