Royalties hold great potential for Indian music industry

By Fakir Hassen, IANS
6/11/2004 12:00:00 AM
The growth in popularity of Indian music in world markets holds great potential for revenue growth, even as the industry looks for alternatives to fight the threat of piracy.

That is the view of Pradeep Gangal, vice president of Super Cassette Industries Ltd, who visited South Africa as part of a company delegation to investigate opportunities here.

Gangal told IANS that until now Indian music companies had not taken a serious look at reclaiming the royalties that have been legally accruing to them for many years now.

"These days, Indian music is put up as a bait for customers - it could be on a website, it could be mobile operators, it could be anywhere.

"But unfortunately, most of the people are not aware that royalties have to be paid to the copyright owner of that music.

"Because this copyright owner may be far away, and because Indian music companies have not acted in the past, they feel that they may be able to play the music and get away with it.

"Everyone should know that if they play Indian music, they have to pay royalties. If they do not it is an infringement of the copyright law, punishable throughout the world.

"The latest formats, such as Internet activities or mobile operators or value added services, are accessible from a distance, but two years back it was not there, so people took advantage of that as well."

Gangal said Super Cassettes, which releases music under the T-Series label, was the first one in India to seriously tackle the publishing and royalties business.

"In the West there is a clear-cut demarcation between the record label companies and the publishing houses.

"Each record label company has a company which is a publisher which holds the publishing rights and monitors or administers these publishing rights, whether it is in terms of performing rights, musical rights or mechanical rights.

"In India, this division was never there. All recording companies are also the bona fide copyright owners of the product, so they can in fact also act as publishing houses.

"So we created a publishing division under which we take up an action wherever our music is being played without our permission and we might even take up legal action against them."

Gangal said Super Cassettes had realised that future income growth would come from this area and hoped that other Indian music companies would also adopt a similar approach.

Gangal said there was no problem in India, where agreements had been entered into with users of their music to pay royalties, but the huge revenue potential abroad was now receiving attention.

"We have a very strong team of 200 peole acting on anti-piracy activity, making three or four raids every day in India."

Together with Ved Chanana, director, and Neeraj Kalyan, general manager of International Business, Gangal has visited several countries to determine how the revenue due to them from royalties could be collected.

"We have been talking to authorities and the people who have to give us the royalties. We have been largely successful but agreements reached will of course take some time to be implemented.

"It cannot happen overnight, but at least there is an understanding and a relationship which is developing now and I'm sure that in another six months or so down the line, we will have covered the world.

"We have been to the US, Dubai, South Africa, Mauritius, ASEAN countries and the Far East. We have still to go to Europe, because we want to organise things in the UK, which is the hub of the content organisers."

Asked to estimate the potential loss of revenue to the Indian music industry through non-payment of royalties, Gangal said they did not regard this as a loss but rather as a new revenue stream.

"We did not know about this potential revenue source earlier. The potential is very large. If you look at the European market for Indian music, which is $7.6 bn, and even if we take just one per cent of that to be from the Bollywood music industry, you can imagine what the market size is.

"We are still testing the waters, but are confident that with the support of authorities, the media and the public who can appreciate this issue, we will be successful."