Business of Music in India

…exploring the future…

Music sales – Part 2:

Is Digital Sales the answer?

Based on some responses from the previous part, I researched prospects of digital music sales in the world.

Sometimes government support does help reduce certain activities for the benefit of a nation. Like piracy raids, more control on ISPs like Tapas suggested.

Making money from music sales in any form today – be it CD sales, ringtones, jingles, singles, or whatever is good. But Alok’s point of royalties being pocketed by music companies in all forms – physical and digital – is indeed a worry. Have they not been doing that in India for the last 30 years?

Most musicians also seem to have given up on all this and just continue to make music instead of getting into legal details. The more informed ones are asking for revenue sharing now. But the new ones get away by saying, “when i become big, i will discuss all that with the music companies.” Right now, its “Jo mil raha hai, le le… aur nikal le.”

Today, value for money has entered in almost everything we buy. It always existed; but has become more apparent in our daily lives – recession or not. Be it going to watch movies and spending Rs. 1,000 by a family on tickets and then another Rs. 1,000 on food (…which wife would want to cook after a movie outing… i’d like to salute one if i find one).

Value for money is seen in music CD purchasing also. We virtually end up listening to 2 or maybe 3 tracks which appeal to us individually. Provided there are others in the family who like the rest of the songs, the CD turns out to be a waste of ‘investment’. Plus FM radio stations play a hit song so many times in a day, that the urge to buy a CD also vanishes.

And whoever said that a CD lasts for 50 years. I think people took more care of their LP records than CDs! Check homes with kids around and you’ll know what I mean.

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Part 3: Some facts on digital sales in India!

4 Responses to “ Music sales – Part 2: ”

  1. Tapas Relia Says:

    Royalties being bought over by the music company is a very normal business model in the music industry world over.
    Music companies actually ‘own’ the artists.

    Please be informed that this is the only way an artist is secured.

    ‘Jo mila wo leke nikal le’ attitude is also very standard the world over. Honestly it would be foolish of any artist to expect to be treated like a superstar when he is starting out. He ‘has no choice’ but to accept whatever is offered to him.

    More & more artists are well informed about royalties. But can’t do anything about it because the bigger issue here is survival.

    Aditya, its very simple math… consumers have a choice today. Buying vs downloading/copying. Value for money funda doesn’t exist when the only available mode to acquire something is to BUY IT.

    A guy will crib about a song costing $0.99 on the iTunes store because he has a choice of copying it. But he will not mind buying an expensive touchscreen phone with state of the art features when all he wants to do is make and receive calls! Did he think about value for money here??

    Digital sales is good, I’m all for it. But is it really stopping piracy?? I think not..
    Anyway, as I said earlier. No shortcuts or lucrative incentives. Just get tough on torrent trackers and ISP’s.
    Its the only way as far as I see it…

    -Tapas


  2. Alok Punjani Says:

    Aditya…
    lets try to find out the royalty distribution in the indian markets as of now.. and lets start taking the case one by one…
    If music directors and lyrics writers or contractors can fight for it… why not us.. At least lets try to open a channel for dialogue and discussion..

    Hopefully there is light on the other side..


  3. Prashant Says:

    Some very strong views and a bit of a blinkered view regarding digital sales. The point being missed is that digitizing the music actually leads to stronger exposure for the artist. Further, the music gets codified, which allows fans of that genre of music to discover the artist e.g. Pandora, Last.FM or even Genius on Itunes.

    The current business model in music industry is all wrong – one that allows the music companies to own a piece of music forever. I also dont believe that in these times, one necessarily has to sign up their lives to a big company in exchange for pittance . Digital platforms allow musicians to put their music online, find fans through social networking and grow their own exposure. Lily Allen has made it big only through MySpace.

    Look at how Nine Inch Nails or a Radiohead conduct their business. Real fans were happy to pay £5 towards downloading the album ‘Ghosts’ last year from their website directly. That was the only means of distribution they had. And you know what ? Ghosts was the biggest selling album of last year. So dont tell me that government intervention is the only way.

    Times are changing and the CD business model is outdated. One has to think from a completely different perspective and use the extended exposure to increase their revenues. Live shows, T-shirt sales, other franchising opportunities all provide the means to earn that revenues that Royalties would have given over a period of time.


  4. Tapas Relia Says:

    What are we discussing here?

    -That can digital sales curb piracy?

    -Or that digital sales is better than the CD business model??

    I’ll again spell it out:
    If a person has an ‘easy’ source… I repeat ‘EASY’ source… then no matter what price you sell your music online he will always end up at that particular source to get his music.
    Simple

    As far as as getting your album to be a blockbuster through online sales in INDIA?
    (We are talking about Hindi/Regional songs right?)
    I certainly think not.
    I still feel there is a large number of people who are still worried about punching in their credit card numbers online…!

    Nine inch nails were already a BIG name in the industry much before Ghosts. They achieved that through CD sales…(Apparently they had a $300 special edition version of the album which also sold out)

    With going digital only… you are maybe minimizing loss. It certainly doesn’t help in a magnanimous boost in sales. You need a rich company to back you, make videos, sponsor tours, and make merchandise.
    How is a new artist supposed to afford all of that??

    Control piracy first… everything will fall into place.