Morna Dodd, the biological daughter of Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd, wants the administration of the Attorney General to sell the legendary producer’s estate before its value depreciates significantly.
“The Estate needs to be valued and sold. The owners will work with higher unbiased principles and work with family and good people to uphold my father’s work for generations to come,” she told DancehallMag.
A number of ‘competing claims’ has led to a deadlock over the estate.
Ms. Dodd believes that the family’s protracted legal battle has diminished the estate’s value and stymied potentially lucrative publishing deals. She also complained that the continued stalemate over the estate has done irreparable damage to her father’s legacy.
“The Intellectual Property is wasting and so it’s like a zero game, the only way to establish and develop value, is to share. When there is zero, the licensing royalties pays their bills, keeps their lawyers happy and the AG gets their minimum,” Dodd said.
The legal spats have spilled over from the Jamaican courts into the High Court in London, as the British-born daughter Ms Dodd, fights to receive her share of her famous father’s riches.
“In 20 years, not one book, though some have either been written or proposed, has not been published on my father’s legacy. No documentary, no films, no merchandising. When I tried to open Coxsone’s Lounge in London featuring his name image and likeness, they sued me while doing nothing themselves. They claim they launched a museum, don’t invite me and then shut it down the next day,” she added.
Legendary record producer Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd died of a heart attack aged 72. He nurtured the career of nearly every internationally renowned reggae artist as he is one of the first music pioneers to record local talent and an integral force in the development of ska.
Coxsone played an instrumental role in development of reggae for more than 50 years through his Studio One recording facility. Reggae historians said that it was at Studio One that he cut the first recordings by Bob Marley and the Wailers. In 1991, he received the Order of Distinction, Jamaica’s third highest honor.
Dodd was an astute businessman and died on May 4th, 2004 leaving a will. He left an astounding legacy of some 6,000 titles, which were licensed by his company, Jamaica Recording and Publishing Company Limited.
Coxsone’s will split his cash, property, and shares in the company between various members of his family, including Mrs Dodd, who had emigrated to the UK as a child with her mother, Una Hutchinson. However, his estate has been dogged by legal battles and disputes.
Ms. Dodd believes that the island’s institutions are weak, and how her father’s case has played out suggests that there is no system in place to adequately protect the intellectual property of creatives and the material wealth of families.
“Jamaica company law is very weak and manipulative, my father died with his Company owning 10,000 shares and Norma Dodd had either 1 or 100 and Mrs Dodd named a Director. After he died and before the Will was made public or probated, Mrs. Dodd added Carol Dodd as a Director,” she complained.
She revealed the complex dynamics of their fractious family relationships, as Coxsone had multiple families.
“This is where I personally identified bias, as if Carol was added, then all of the beneficiaries should be added. Norma died and then Carol begrudgingly added Courtenay as he is here in Jamaica at the studio and then poached Paulette who was pressuring with myself and Junior, then when Judge Sykes intervened and said to add Junior and myself, she left me off and of course he died before he could take up the post,” she said,
The battles between the competing heirs has resulted in the administration of the estate being taken over by the Administrator General of Jamaica. However, with more than $50 billion under its management as at March 2023, the Administrator General’s Department (AGD) is facing increasing pressure to cope, while the value of estates continue to depreciate.
SELL THE ESTATE!
Now, she just wants the long slog to be over.
“The value of the Dodd Estate should have been established in the beginning of the AG administration and was requested by their consultant Winsome Minott that the Intellectual Property was the highest value, not the dubious trading and improper licensing statements being used,” she mused.
“The valuation not being done in over 12 years is one of the main reasons for the delays and seems purposeful,” Ms. Dodd said.
When valuing a record label business, there are several methods that can be used, including the discounted cash flow (DCF) method, multiples of earnings method, price to sales ratio method, asset-based valuation method and the comparable company analysis (CCA) method.
According to Finmodelslab, understanding the nuances of each approach can help provide a comprehensive and accurate valuation of the business. Valuing a record label business requires a thorough analysis of market trends, artist roster, revenue streams, reputation and brand recognition.
Goldman Sachs believes that annual global trade revenues washing into recorded music industry (labels, distributors, artists) are going to grow to USD$53.2 billion by 2030. This is “largely down to higher paid streaming ARPU (average revenue per user) and ad-funded streaming assumptions as well as lower declines in physical sales”.
Ms. Dodd has been relentlessly pursued by the estate’s lawyers as the legal spats have grown more fractious with each passing year. She lost a battle in the High Court in London in 2021 when they lawyers complained that she had improperly given the impression that her reggae-themed Birmingham bar – the Coxsone Lounge – was connected to her dad’s estate.
The judge said that she had no legal right to licence 20 titles of her father’s enormous catalogue to a Japanese company. At the end, she owed £26,000 in lawyers’ bills, and she was stuck with the ignominy and cost of stripping her father’s famous nickname from her bar.
VIOLENCE OVER ‘DED LEF’
Now, she is facing a new battle.
“She (Mrs. Dodd) turned the kitchen sink on my head with this DNA crap, 19 years after he died. This is the bias underneath everything as Junior and I along with Claudia are his first set of children before he married Norma,” she bemoaned.
“The current court dates are about DNA related to my Grandmother’s share as she died before my father. So it’s been a dog and pony show splitting his Will in distracting and conflicting parts, while no Valuation is done. The Valuation would clearly show the way forward and it not being done is to wear me down like they did my brother Clement Jr.,” Ms. Dodd added.
According to paragraph 2 of Sir Coxsone’s will, he gave, devised and bequeathed to his wife Norma Jean Dodd and his children Sandra, Carol and Tanya, ‘in equal shares all my estate and interest in premises situated at 3135 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York, in the United States of America, together with all my shares in the business operated in the said premises under the name of the recording studio and all stock and equipment contained therein.’
In paragraph 3, he shared up his musical legacy in equal parts.
‘I give devise and bequeath to my mother aforesaid to my wife Norma and to my children Clement (Junior), Courtney, Paulette, Carol, Morna and Claudia in equal shares all my estate and interest in premises situated at 13 Brentford Road, Kingston 5, together with all my shares in the Jamaica Recording and Publishing Company Limited, with offices at 13 Brentford Road, Kingston 5.’
Carol Dodd controls Coxsone’s estate through his company along with her mother, the producer’s wife, Norma Dodd.
“As a wife she didn’t get 50% that’s why she’s angry. She got equal share with 7 of us,” the 65-year-old said.
Despite the will, the competing claims have only grown more strident. Ms. Dodd said that the legal spats have sometimes devolved into physical violence.
“The violence is what was meted out to me when I attempted to go to the Brentford Road studios, my brother (name deleted) Dodd physically assaulted me in my seeking to enter, with another brother who came from England,” she claimed.
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has highlighted that if there is a protracted dispute over what is commonly called ‘dead lef’, then the real estate should be sold at the market value and the proceeds shared accordingly.
Chuck said it was crucial that beneficiaries agree on a way forward as “once properties remain undistributed, they tend to deteriorate and a significant amount of their value is lost as the resources are not readily available to maintain and improve them”.
The minister noted that prior to 1996, an average of 50 Estate files were closed annually.
During the 27 years that present Administrator General Lona Brown was in charge, “the average number of files closed exceeded 200, and in the last five years this number has risen to over 500 annually. We have more files being closed than are being opened, which means a steady reduction of the backlog of cases,” Chuck said.