Face-off! Will music channels get affected by IMI and IPRS' aggressive stance?

Music television channels and Radio FM will need to face the 'music' resulting from the salvo that has been fired by the Indian Music Industry (IMI).

In the case of film-based music videos, the IMI is planning to impose a three-way deal between the producers, music labels and the music channels because the music labels are currently not making any money from the deals between the producers and the music channels.

IMI, the recognised trade association that protects the rights of Indian phonogram producers, has made its intention clear. It wants to increase revenue from streams such as radio and television in order to boost the sagging fortunes of the Rs 12 billion music industry. In early December, the IMI has already obtained a favourable ruling from the Copyright Board wherein Radio FM broadcasters will need to pay Rs 660 per hour for accessing old archives of music companies. But, the IMI is not satisfied with the remeuneration!

The existing law says the following: the owner of a musical work has an exclusive right to perform or communicate the musical work to the public or to authorise any other person to do so. Therefore, exploiting or playing of music through any of the below mentioned reasons requires the permission of the owner of the music or a licence from the Registrar of Copyrights:

*by way of 'live' performances

* by permitting any place to be used for public performance and/or communication of the music to the public

* by way of Recorded music

* by broadcasting /telecasting any music

Radio FM channels and All India Radio (AIR) have been paying a fixed hourly amount to IMI. But the IMI alleges that the television music channels have accessing the archives without giving anything to the music labels.

Saregama executive director and IMI exceutive committee member Harish Dayani specifies: "The rights of the film songs videos still rest with the producer and not with the music labels (which only have the sound-track rights). Currently, the music channels are not paying anything to the labels for accessing the archives of the producers and telecasting film song videos. This is inspite of the fact that music labels have spent fortunes for the audio rights."

"We are contesting this anomaly and trying to work out a three-way joint agreement between the producer, music label and the music channel. The mass entertainment channels which buy the TV rights only have the rights for the film in totality; not the film song videos. We are positive of a breakthrough," Dayani adds.

Channel [V]'s vice president content and communication Keerthan Adyanthaya however clarifies: "Normally, the producers pay us for the specially created 60-120 second promotional clips that are aired for fixed time period prior and after the movie's release. Later on, we obtain the licence from the producers directly for procuring full video versions of the popular songs for a 13-week duration. Here, the producers value the popularity of the properties and charge us accordingly. The music labels come into the picture only when music channels make special audio compilations and sell it in the consumer markets."

Simultaneously, the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS)the sole authorised body to issue licences permitting usage of music within India by any person. It administers and controls on behalf of its members - the authors, the composers and the publishers of music - the following:

1) The performing right in musical works which are:-

The right for broadcasting and causing the musical Work to be transmitted in whole or in parts to subscribers to / of a diffusion service in all parts of the world.

The right to perform the musical work in public.

The right to communicate the musical work to the public.

2) The mechanical rights in musical works.

3) The synchronisation rights in musical works.

In fact, through a Delhi High court order dated 2 May 2002, IRPS had managed to add MTV India as a defendant in its suit against CRY/DNA Network for a concert show held in Goa between 3-5 May 2002. The IPRS was demanding a certain portion of the ticket money being collected. The IPRS eventually won and the defendants had to pay up. Channel [V]'s Adyanthaya claims that they pay the IPRS for all the shows that they organise.

Unfazed, IMI has trained its sights on music television channels. "During the early nineties, the music companies didn't pay much heed to the protection of intellectual rights. They also did not drive a hard bargain with the producers and the TV channels. The labels neglected the fact that these channels could contribute substantially to the revenue streams in the future when margins got

IMI's secretary general Savio D'Souza

depressed. Currently, piracy has gained gigantic proportions and the member companies are not getting their dues from the existing revenue streams," says IMI's newly appointed secretary general Savio D'Souza, who has joined the association recently after diverse experience in space selling, television marketing and distribution.

Both the IMI and the Phonographic Producers Limited (PPL), a body representing music producers, are not happy with the interim ruling from the Indian Copyright Board, Delhi, wherein FM radio channels will have to pay on an hourly basis for playing songs accessed from the repertoire of the Indian music companies. Music company spokespeople allege that this amount is too low as it is based on the abysmally low rates that public sector bodies like AIR used to pay earlier. The IPRS, however, has been fighting a losing battle against AIR since a long time because AIR refuses to pay IPRS.

The IMI is demanding an amount of Rs 1,200 in lieu of the fact that the frequency of the popular songs played during prime time is higher. The IMI is currently negotiating with for a better deal! But Channel [V}'s Adyanthaya claims that the producers take popularity into consideration while charging the channels. "The duration of the deals is for a 13-week period after which it is again reworked and renewed for another 13 weeks," Adyanthaya adds.

"Radio and television are the most effective ways of promoting music. The moot point is that the television channels are not paying anything at all to us. The IMI and PPL has taken up this issue with the TV channels in the past but failed to make any significant inroads. However, both radio and the TV channels need to understand their responsibilities towards the music industry," claims Saregama's vice president - A&R, Atul Churamani.

Radio and television channels contribute to the popularity of film music and augment audio sales:

Channel [V]'s senior manager and head of music programming Sunil Chainani also claims: "Film-based music programming is picking momentum and has a mammoth share of nearly 65-70 per cent of the total pie. Channel [V] has two popular programmes Junglee Jukebox and First Day First Show that are aired between 9-10 pm and 12-1 pm. The fact remains that well-presented slick promotional music clips aired on our channels have helped producers and music labels to popularise mediocre films too!"

ETC Networks' promoter and MD Jagjit Singh Kohli adds: "There is nothing like overexposure in marketing and promotion. In fact, TV music promos lead to better recall value resulting in improved sales or popularity of a film. The promotions are done as per the need and request of the concerned party. Approximately, 70 per cent of our mix is film-based and the remaining is non-film based."

A music industry analyst who has worked in several music companies cautions: "Currently, the producers sell the audio rights to the music companies on an ad-hoc basis. They have been oblivious to the fact that the film song video rights could be a major money-spinner even in the distant future. They must negotiate a hard bargain with the music labels and the TV channels."

When queried about the advantages of TV over radio in promoting music albums, Saregama's Churamani claims, "The use of music videos is a marketing decision and so is one that is decided at an individual company level. How many products to do videos for; how many videos to do for a product; is not something that is decided by the IMI but by the companies and the producers."

"There is no stipulation that a company places on a channel for the airing of a music video. These videos are made for promotion as the audio visual medium is the best way of sampling music. It brings across the artiste and song to the viewer better than any other medium can. People like the song and artiste and go pick up the album. Therefore the importance of music videos to the sale of records," adds Saregama's Shweta Jain.

For the music companies though, the issue is not so much new titles but archival footage. They are gunning for monetary benefits for a 'per-song' basis (for film titles). "Under the hourly basis format, the broadcasters pay for the songs that have been chosen from the repertoires that we have made available to them. However, the fact remains that we have paid a huge amount for the entire album, whereas the broadcasters pick and choose. A higher premium has to be paid for popular often-played songs," says IMI's D'Souza.

Churamani claims: "Occasionally, we do get some monies from worldwide broadcasting organizations such as the BBC. But the Indian broadcasters simply refuse to toe the line."

Meanwhile, the programming executives on music channels are oblivious of the ramifications and are more concerned about getting exclusive deals from the producers, film makers and music labels. Adds B4U Music's programming executive Laxmesh Gujeran: "The popularity of the videos decides the frequency of times it is being played during the day. Whenever we get videos exclusively, we give them top priority and play them more often. But, the mix includes different genres such as film videos and independent videos; carefully selected on the basis of our research!"

However, sceptical industry sources claim that bad content, not "piracy" is the main problem (as far as music companies are concerned). In the developed countries, the copyright laws are more stringent than in India. However, the music companies are doing pretty well. But copyright is still an issue.

Recently, the New York Times reported that the European copyright protection is expiring on a collector's trove of 1950's jazz, opera and early rock 'n' roll albums, forcing major American record companies to consider deals with bootleg labels and demand new customs barriers. Copyright protection lasts only 50 years in European Union countries, compared with 95 years in the United States, even if the recordings were originally made and released in America.

So recordings made in the early - to mid-1950's - by figures like Maria Callas, Elvis Presley and Ella Fitzgerald ? are entering the public domain in Europe, opening the way for any European recording company to release albums that had been owned exclusively by particular labels.

Although the distribution of such albums would be limited to Europe in theory, record-store chains and specialty outlets in the United States routinely stock foreign imports.

Already reeling from a stagnant economy and the illegal but widespread downloading of copyrighted music from the Internet, the recording companies will now face a perfectly legal influx of European recordings of popular works.

On the radio and channels front, the well-developed laws ensure that proper dues are paid to the all the constituents of the music industry - something that is sorely lacking in the Indian context.

For instance, at last count in the US, there were more than 9,000 FM stations and 5,000 AM stations, while each county in the UK has more than one FM radio station. These countries still account for the some of the highest sales of music cassettes and CDs in the world.

Coming back to India, here's a lowdown of the various aspects of what has precipitated the face-off.

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