"Jingles" specialists suffer as ad agencies, channels cut costs

MUMBAI: The ad industry's emphasis on cutting costs seems to be having an impact on the creative aspects of TV (or radio) commercials (TVCs) or background scores of serials. There seems to be a general decline in the "background music" and "jingles" market despite the plethora of TV channels and radio stations.

In an effort to attain better economies of scale, several broadcasters are creating, conceptualising and producing commercials and promos in-house; or "within a closed circle". Several smaller artistes complain that the 30-second to three-minute commercials, that have been shot, are being repeatedly used for a longer duration of time.

These artistes complain that most of the bigger ad agencies are using licenced stock music that are available with studios such as Glam Slam and production houses Crest Communications or (Prabhadevi in Mumbai). Also, they outsource most of the work from the "Big Five" - established composers such as Louis Banks, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Ranjit Barot amongst others. There is no scope for original work, they say.

In fact, the rates for providing background scores have fallen to Rs 1000 for a half-an-hour episode, say industry constituents, who refuse to work at such abysmally low rates.

"Sometimes, TVCs don't even have signature tunes - what is commonly referred to as 'the icing on the cake'. The music is the cake but it needs to be embellished," says an irate composer on conditions of anonymity.

Alan Kunder, who has worked with several top agencies such as Ambience, says: "The boom time or the 'jingles/Title Track (For TV Serial)/Audio Visuals phase' was between 1993-99. At present, there is no scope for artistes who don't invest in costly equipment such as a laptop or samplers. Artistes can manage work without these costly equipment in the case of smaller TVCs but there is no way they can pitch for background scores of 30-minute serials."

Several smaller players cannot afford to pay the exorbitant charges for leasing out studios - lease that runs into five figures (Rs 30,000 for a 30-second commercial). One of the most popular studios on the ad circuit - Glam Slam - has three studios A,B and C and nearly 1,000 tracks. The studio, which started off with eight-tracks, has been upgraded by investing hundreds of thousands of rupees. At present, a small studio costs Rs 2 million.

DS Mittle & Sons director Brij Mittle says: "We were one of the first production houses to invest in high quality recording studio facilities. There is definitely a slowdown and this trend is disproportionate to the mushrooming of TV, radio channels. The quality of work is bound to suffer if ad agencies persist with the same but few players."

The above mentioned scenario doesn't augur well for infusing fresh talent into the industry and creativity is bound to suffer.


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