The entertainment industry may look glamorous, but unsuspecting artists can get taken for a ride if they don’t have good legal counsel. Praise Anyaoha spoke to Alfred Olufemi about his path as an entertainment industry lawyer.
A partner at Nigerian Stetson LLP, Praise Anyaoha says it can be a lonely journey along the path of entertainment law, but he has relished working with some of Africa’s best talents.
Anyaoha decided to merge his passion for music and knowledge of the law to build a niche career for himself after he was called into the Nigerian Bar in 2021. Earlier this year he and three of his friends founded Stetson LLP, a firm that caters for the legal needs of entertainers and creatives on the African continent.
Prior to founding Stetson, Anyaoha had extensively researched this branch of the law and connected with the few lawyers who work in that field.
“In my second year in the university I first discovered there was something like entertainment law. It’s a new area of law that is just coming to the limelight and I was excited to learn more about it. In my third year we did intellectual property law and I knew about music law and lawyers representing artists.By the time I got into final year, I was already talking to the few entertainment lawyers I could find,” he said.
He noted that while there are a few law firms who have entertainment law departments in Nigeria, there are very few lawyers who specialise in it.
“Most law firms say they have entertainment law departments, but the lawyers in that department tend to work in other teams too. There are not a lot of entertainment lawyers. I didn’t work in a law firm, because I felt that wouldn’t develop skills that I may need. If you want to work in the litigation aspect of entertainment law, I’d advise you to start up with a law firm.”
Speaking about his break into the music industry, Anyaoha chronicled how representing a former schoolmate, who was signed into a music label, paved the way for him and he later went on to represent other artists and music producers.
One of his clients was the producer ofWho is Your Guy, Mr Soul a single that has garnered over 49 million views on YouTube. “Our law firm also started representingAsake, one of Africa’s biggest artists,” he said, recounting some of his proud moments.
Anyaoha explained that the bulk of his job involves drafting and reviewing contracts, and getting the necessary rights clearances ahead of a project release.“You draft contracts to clear the rights of everyone who contributed to the song, from instrumentalist to songwriter.”
He pointed out that many up and coming artists cannot afford to pay for the services of a lawyer, which often results in them signing contracts drafted in bad faith. “Sometimes, these artists think they know things and go on to sign deals, and you are now brought into the firefight,” Anyaoha explained.
In the years to come Anyaoha sees his law firm producing a lot of entertainment lawyers who will be able to represent any entertainer, whether in the music business or film industry. “We want to create an ecosystem that helps people to navigate the entertainment space,” he told Africa Legal.
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