Industry needs to build biz model beyond CRBT

MUMBAI: While the digital arena is growing with the spread of the mobile Internet the lack of communication between different partners including record labels, artists and producers is hindering the emergence of a new business model for the music industry. The players work in silos. This lack of communication has resulted in fragmentation of the industry. It is important for the industry if it wants to exploit digital to the fullest that there be life beyond the CRBT (caller ring back tones ) which was developed by telecom players and where telecom players call the shots. Ease of access and convenience will be key. Transparency will also play a big role as will the dynamics of being social in the digital sphere.

These were some points that emerged at a session at the third Nokia Music Connects forum called ‘Talking Digital and life beyond the CRBT‘ organised by in association with Nokia.

The moderator was Mobilium International CEO Ralph Simon. The panelists were Hungama Digital Media Entertainment COO Albert Almeida, PPL CEO Vipul Pradhan, Sony Music director digital Vivek Paul, OnMobile director applications and voice products Kapil Raizada, co-founder Param Singh and Mime360 CEO Sameer Nigam.
Raizada made the point that at the moment the industry is not as fast as it should be to build innovative products in the digital space that would benefit the various stakeholders. "The current ecosystem doesn‘t foster innovation and creativity. Communication between the upstream and downstream players has to happen if products are to be developed that can beat the CRBT."

Pradhan noted that the Indian music industry is divided whether you talk about labels, producers artists etc. He noted that CRBT happened by chance. While the revenue was welcome the penetration is less than 10 per cent of mobile users. He called it a fad and a telecom product. He noted that it was unfortunate that telcos believe that they should control music services. "It is content owners that must drive new services." Looking at the future he believes that streaming on services on mobile present an opportunity. Nokia offers packages where one can have 20-40 songs of an artist. The good news is that bandwith is opening up. 3G is coming in.
Almeida though feels that the Indian market will not immediately jump into streaming. The comparative lack of spectrum is an issue compared to what is available in the US to mobile carriers. At the same time not enough has not been done by the various players. "It is embarrassing for us that telecom is dictating CRBT. We don‘t have the consumer as the focus. Bells and whistles have to come together to create an innovative product."

This means the ability to look ahead and not just ask the consumer what he/she wants. He gave the example of Steve Jobs who had the vision to tell people what it is that they should want. Almeida is however optimistic that life will be happier after CRBT. Technologies are creating opportunities. The onus is on the players to exploit the opportunities. Piracy and regulation are issues that have to be dealt with. He recommended the carrots and stick approach. He said that when Hungama sold a song for a particular price there were doubts. However value as was delivered to the industry. "We have to deliver a delightful product that shows value to the consumer and then give something back to the content owners."

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