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Free downloads spell ruin for audio market

Free downloads spell ruin for audio market
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Free downloads spell ruin for audio market. Leading audio companies in Tollywood are going through difficult times, unable to recover their investments due to drastic drop in shelf sales, free download of songs, TRAI regulations and sharing royalty with lyricists and composers.

Though sales are in mere thousands, celebrations of platinum, double platinum, triple platinum and finally hexaplatium functions are taking place every other day in Tollywood

  • Shelf sales plunge to mere 5,000 CDs
  • T town disc functions become a mere formality
  • Clamour for music directors to cut their fees

Hyderabad: Leading audio companies in Tollywood are going through difficult times, unable to recover their investments due to drastic drop in shelf sales, free download of songs, TRAI regulations and sharing royalty with lyricists and composers."Sale of units has drastically fallen to 5,000 units. Once we used to sell around 1 to 3 lakh units of a star film.

So, now-a-days we have to depend more on ring tones and caller tunes sales to partially augment our investments and also through selling combination MP3s to survive in the industry,” laments Umesh Gupta, the Chairman of Aditya Music Company.He said that with lakhs of music listeners preferring to download new or old songs ‘free of cost,’ instead of buying them on official websites, the business has been badly hit. “If a star film is a super duper hit, we just break even, so imagine our plight if it’s a flop,” opines Gupta.

Then, how does he justify doling out Rs 45 to Rs 55 lakh to procure each star film such as Pataas, Temper or S/0 Satyamurthy? “We have been requesting producers to cut down prices, but they are unwilling,” rues Gupta.Unmindful of bleak scenario, top composers like Devisriprasad, M M Keeravani, Thaman, Anoop Rubens and Manisharma are charging anywhere between 1.5 crore to Rs 80 lakh per film, which is almost ‘double’ their business in audio market.

Then how are the producers able to bridge this gap?

“It’s very difficult to bridge this gap but we are signing top composers since their names add value to our project. Not only composers, we would be happy if top technicians cut down their remunerations to save producers from falling into financial mess” says another entrepreneur Bogavalli Prasad. Though sales are in mere thousands, celebrations of platinum, double platinum, triple platinum and finally hexaplatium functions are taking place every other day in Tollywood.

In simple terms, a platinum success means sale of 75,000 units, and 1,50,000 units for double platinum and 225,00,00 for triple and more than 6 lakh for hexa platinum. " Now-a-days, music success should be counted on number of downloads and number of hits it gets online and more than the sale of actual units at outlets. We conduct disc functions more as a promotional event than anything else," defends producer Bandla Ganesh.

However, Madhur Sreedhar, who owns Madhura Audio, has a different take on recovering money in audio business, who procures small films ranging between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per film. “Audio business is a different ball game and we need a lot of patience to recover our money because it doesn't fetch us returns overnight,” says Shreedhar.

Apart from dip in sales and free downloads, audio companies have taken a beating due to new copyright laws and music composers and lyricists partaking of the royalty share along with audio company. Besides, TRAI’s guideline of making it mandatory for a mobile network to allot a ring or caller tune, only on request from customer, makes it hard for them.

"Earlier mobile networks used to volunteer to deliver hit songs to customers and customers used to buy a song of his choice for Rs 5 per download, but new TRAI guidelines make it mandatory for the customer to send a request for song and also for renewal, which is cutting into our revenues” says another audio company.

By B V S Prakash

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