RadioandMusic
| 01 Jun 2020
Awards sing the right tune for FM stations

In the Indian FM radio industry where pioneering properties don't take long to get plagiarised and duplication of concepts is almost a given, 'music awards' seem to be the flavour of the season.

It appears Big FM's Music Biggies last year were no flash in the pan. The last six months have seen radio stations scrambling over each other to host their own version. SFM cosied up to the Kannnada film music industry in January with the Kalaa SFM Awards that felicitated the best in the music field. Mirchi, which has the huge Kaan Awards property under its belt for the last six years, took the plunge with the Mirchi Music Awards. Big FM, not content with the Biggies, tried its hand at the Big FM Ugaadi Awards. Red FM's Bajao Awards too doff their hats to the music category although the rest of the awards are scattered among various categories.

All this at a time when the radio stations, under the aegis of the Association of Radio Operators of India, and the music industry under the auspices of the PPL and IPRS, prepare to slug it out before the Copyright Board on the long festering royalty issue. 31 March is the deadline given to both warring parties to submit evidence in their favour before the Board, before the hearings begin in May. At the same time, FM stations seem to be wooing the music industry by offering up the awards as odes.

Is the sector making the first move towards cordial relations between the two industries, which are highly interdependent on each other? Or is it all about an alternative stream of revenue in downturn times?

'Empowering listeners'

Radio stations insist that hosting awards is a way to 'empower its listeners and involve them in the medium rather than being a passive consumer'. Opines Big FM senior vice president – marketing Anand Chakravarthy, Music is mainly consumed through radio and as a radio brand, we are a platform between audiences and the music industry. Music is popular not because of music companies involved but because of consumer preferences....

Big FM would be hosting Music Biggies' in a few months to honour lyricists, singers and music directors across its 45 stations. The nominations would include categories like Best Josh song of the year', Romantic song of the year' and so on.

Radio Mirchi's Mirchi Music Awards' are scheduled for 28 March. ENIL COO Nandan Srinath says, After feeding the listeners with non stop music, it was an obvious move for radio stations to hold music awards....

Adds Anand, By conducting awards, we empower the listeners to select their preferences and vote for popular music. Also, it adds on the loyalty of the listeners to the station in the long run. There are many programming line ups and content around properties like awards including interviews, on ground activations etc....

Red FM has been hosting �Bajaate raho awards' for the past three years, and has many music nominations listed. Red FM national marketing head and Mumbai station head and Anuj Singh elaborates, It fits our brand proposition and is an extension of our differentiated programming, and it gels well with the brand activation. Such awards help us to go beyond radio. Radio is an exciting medium to showcase different content and has the advantage of gelling with other mediums like digital, events, on ground, TV shows etc....

Red FM extended its property in the television space last year by broadcasting it on  Channel [V] and expaning on the brand promise. The radio station would this year air the awards on Sony Entertainment Television.

Big FM introduced �Music Biggies' last year introduced for felicitating the music industry. Having realised the potential, we are planning to host Music Biggies on a larger scale and plan to make it an annual property henceforth,... says Chakravarthy.

SFM has recently concluded its ode to the Kannada film music industry with the Kalaa Awards. SFM Karnataka cluster head Daya Devaiah says, "The radio industry survives on the raw content of the music industry and these awards are a way of recognizing the talent in the music industry and appreciating it....

Bridging gaps

In a scenario where the radio and music industries are at loggerheads over the unresolved royalty issue, one cannot help but wonder if music awards could bridge the gaps between the industries.

Chakravarthy replies, We don't deny that music industry is important for radio industry as they provide us the raw content. The radio and music industries are partners of a larger industry and are inter dependent on each other with both the industries benefiting from each other....

Srinath adds optimistically, There are players in the radio industry who believe that both the industries must be cooperative and have a convergence on views affecting the industries like piracy. Conducting music awards is a small way of recognizing the music industry and acknowledging the fact that both the industries can work together....

Ironically, the Mirchi Music awards are partnered by music licensing bodies PPL and IPRS. Says IPRS CEO Rakesh Nigam, The very fact that we are partners means that they acknowledge we own the content and it might be a small move towards resolving the royalty issue....

Economies involved

Radio stations have always striven for multiple modes for extending revenue sources and awards are one of the innovative concepts. Sources in the industry believe that such awards contribute about five to 10 per cent of the radio station's bottomline during a financial year.

Agrees Anuj Singh, Advertising is the primary mode of revenue for radio stations. Although the inventories of a radio station are full, they can earn only what the market rates command. In such a scenario, radio stations try to extend their revenue stream by getting into other properties with sponsorships. Radio as a medium can easily opt for multiple revenue streams and the synergy between radio and on ground events works perfectly for the clients, sponsors and the audiences....

While it cannot be denied that it does create interesting opportunities for sponsors, the profits depend on the scale of awards, negotiations with the sponsors. But the activity of awards is limited to five-six weeks and then the radio stations are back to square one,... enjoins Anand.

However, Srinath differs with his opinion saying, We don't approach awards as a way of adding to our profits. Although we have sponsors and investors, we have invested a huge amount of money, much more than the sponsors and we won't be able to make profit out of it....

Agrees radio consultant Sunil Kumar, It is a part of activation and every media entity resort to hosting awards as it means an additional stream of revenues...  As for the revenues such events generate, he says, It varies, depending on the size of the event, number of stations involved but it can be garner a couple of crores for the company....

Brand recall, revenue, and a growing cordiality with the music industry....awards seem to offer it all. How can radio stations resist the temptation?