Business of Music in India

…exploring the future…

Through the looking glass: Ram Sampath

Ram Sampath is a composer, producer and musician, working mainly in the Mumbai advertising circuit (and a leading name there). He has also produced music for films like Khakhee, Family, Jumbo and the next release in the pipeline is Aamir Khan Production’s “Delhi Belly“.

Ram

Ram Sampath, Music Composer

Ram is also judging the music quotient of the participants on MTV’s show Rock On. He looks extremely resourceful on the show, where he analyses and recognises good musical skills of young Indian talents.

I met Ram at his studio in Khar recently, to discuss his album ‘Diljale’. This single track has been released only ‘online’ by his company, The Mint. Here is Ram’s take on the world of online music.

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[Aditya Mehta] How did the idea of releasing a song as a ‘single’ come?

[Ram Sampath] Two reasons.

1)    Releasing through a record company has no benefit.
2)    Today, music is a lifestyle. It has gotten out of the zone of being something that people now engage in ‘consciously’. There are various ways of accessing it. People are talking of music. In India we almost ‘watch’ our music. It is consumed as a visual.

[AM] Is it because radio stations churn out the same songs is why we have kind of stopped buying CDs?

[RS] Radio stations play Top 40 / 20 music only. And repeating the same “hit” songs on all stations continuously adds to this factor of reduction in CD sales too.

[AM] Is this trend followed by radio stations in India, or is it the same abroad as well?

[RS] It is completely different abroad. While the mainstream radio stations still play the Top 40 only, you still let the other sub genres exist. There are a lot of other sub genres that are allowed to exist. There’s lots of different kinds of music – folk, country, blue, world, alternative rock etc. All find their own niche radio station.

This is not the case in India. Here, Government regulations make broadcasting very difficult. There’s just no help from the government for artistes – rather, for music. It makes no sense to surrender your intellectual property to a record company for no promotions.

[AM] Don’t you think in such a scenario, where music is not bought in India, you needed courage to come out with a “single”, which is not sold in retail shops?

[RS] No! It is common sense. There is just no use competing with the herd. How is any record company going to bother to promote your stuff?

[AM] Like you said, music is now ‘visual’ in India. So is it not expensive to make your own video and then promote it, etc?

[RS] It is not! Infact, today one can use even a handy-cam to shoot and make innovative videos, and put them up all over the Net. Video-editing tools, other effects are so easily available on affordable softwares. Video making is no longer an expensive proposition.

When we look at the videos of the 80s, we find them funky! Back then, due to lack of technology, they did the best they could – without the intention of making them ‘cool’!!

All you need to be is creative and appeal to the audience which likes your kind of music.

[AM] What about other promotions for marketing your music online, etc?

[RS] Thanks to softwares like Rebeat (introduced in India by SudeepAudio.com), we can put up our song(s) on almost every digital store across the world! Look how technology is helping us access the world markets, sitting right here.

Now its upto you as an artiste to put in the efforts using your site, online forums, live shows, etc. to tell the world about your songs. It’s the “content” finally which will drive the consumer to buy the product.

[AM] How is ‘Diljale’ faring?

[RS] Its doing great! And yes, international sales are bringing in revenue as well. As long as the costs are covered, I think its good. After all, this trend is still new for India. But online music business will soon become a norm. So sooner one catches onto this new model, the better it will be for them.

[AM] Any message to young musicians / composers out there?

[RS] Go ahead and make the music you want – “your way, your style”. A musician knows best about what he/she is capable of creating.

The Net has opened up un-imaginable means and access to the whole world. If you believe in your music, don’t let anything stop you. It is not at all expensive to get your content up there for sale and do business. However, never compromise on the quality of your productions ever.

[AM] Thank you.

Know more about Ram and also listen to his work on: www.ramsampath.com