Using Musicians’ Beats/Instrumentals and Avoiding Possible Lawsuits

The idea of using beats already used by famous musicians and avoiding lawsuits or being taken to court for breaking copyright laws is an easy step to take.

Where the problem might arise is when you believe nothing wrong would happen to you if you intentionally refuse to follow the right steps before recording your song using beats or instrumentals already covered by popular music stars.

Take BurnaBoy for instance, in a recent interview he granted, the Grammy Award-Winning Singer explained to his fans that he had to give up sixty per cent (60%) of the profits achieved from the ‘Last-Last’ hit song released a few months back, because of the ‘Royalty’ regularly paid to Toni Braxton being the original owner of the song, plus ownership of the publishing rights.

He revealed that he’s not disturbed by the arrangement, pointing out the business aspect of remaking the music. Burna Boy hoped that Toni Braxton would turn up in the long run and give her support to grow the music more than the present state so it would be beneficial to both parties.

As a new artiste hoping to make it to the big stages one day and inspire to sell records across Nigeria, there’s nothing wrong with remixing or remaking a song that has already blown up to get you to the next stage of your career.

Steps to Take to Legally Reproduce Another Artiste’s Beats

Using Musicians' Beats/Instrumentals And Avoiding Possible Lawsuits
  • The first thing to note is that the song you’re about to remake or remix is not yours and that if you go ahead without consulting the right people, channels, or laws, then pray that the artistes or their music team don’t find out about your illegal reproduction of their track of publishing of their content on various streaming platforms. Simply involve the right people to brief you on steps to take and percentages that would go to both parties, just as Burna Boy did, so that your labour to push such content would not go in vain. You first buy a licence from both the copyright owner and the publisher. However, there are various types of copyright permissions which are dependent on what you intend to use the beat/instrumental for. Whether it’s for Performance Purposes, recording, Compact Disc Printing, Commercial Reasons, or “Digital configurations such as full online downloads, limited-use downloads, on-demand music and video streaming,” the charges would be different.
  • As mentioned earlier, you need to trace the holder or publisher of the instrumental in a case where the owner is no longer alive, especially if the track produced is still valid under CopyrightLaws. The detail for someone who has never done this before might be quite complicated, but it is advisable to engage the services of a lawyer or legal practitioner to help you out with the process to avoid stories that touch.
  • A review by Michelle Seidel, B.Sc., LL.B., MBA, stressed the need to use the Music Publishers Association’s Music Publisher Directory if the content’s owner’s address is not available, or use the Index of Publisher’s Imprints to find their contact information, among several other suggestions on contacting the owner for due process.
  • It is also important to fill out permission forms if this is available on the website of the musician. The form is known as ‘Copyright Search Permission Forms.’ The 3 types that may be available to you are: The three types of forms are Using out-of-Print Music, Arrangement Permission and Photocopying and Getting out-of-Print Music.
  • Lastly, if you hope to use beats/instrumentals without paying or facing possible court cases for breaking the copyrights laws, just visit websites that grant you free access to download and use their sounds.
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