| 22 Sep 2023
Cashing in on compilations

Mix n match compilations are gaining currency in the Indian music industry.

Compilations are the flavour of the season in the Indian music industry today.Every company worth its salt and library, is digging into its archives to come up with artiste based, genre based or theme based compilations. While a Himesh Reshammiya compilation sells well in certain markets, a Valentine`s Day cover is doing good business elsewhere, cornering over 15 per cent share of the Rs 7400 million Indian music market.

Says Universal`s marketing manager (compilations) Karan Mirchandani, "Compilations are multi artist selections that allow consumers to own hit songs from several artists on one collection. It`s also a great way to introduce new artists/songs to listeners." Compilations have been a good revenue earner overseas, but the trend appears to be picking up fast now, back home."Compilation for a music company is like a double edged weapon. It helps in penetrating the market well. The need for compilations arises as very few songs actually do well. And with an abstract theme, the music that has done well establishes a better connection with the audience," avers Music Today`s assistant manager (A&R) Aishwarya Natarajan.

Compilation albums feature tracks from one or multiple recording artists or are event oriented. The deciding factor is a common characteristic amongst the songs - be it the theme, singer or the occasion.

Saregama has a sound logic behind its compilations venture. Says Saregama`s chief manager Manoj Sonalkar, "The basic idea of coming up with compilations is simple - music from the movies when released, sells quite well but not for more than three to six months.But if the music is good, in order to keep it alive, one needs to assort the best into one album and make business out of it. Every music album or a movie has its own shelf life, once the sales decline it has to be replaced; so the old is simply replaced by the new ones although they are very much similar but assorted."

Earlier, Indian music was compiled on the basis of the most in-demand artistes and the most loved songs. But the latest trends speak otherwise. Says Sonalkar, "Compilation of albums happens on basically what`s currently available, what plays the most on television and radio, what the audience wants, the maximum downloaded songs¦ to sum it up, we follow music trends to come up with compilations. Broadly talking, compiling happens on the basis of two genres - one being the legends in the music industry and the other being themes."

Interestingly, it is the compilations themed around industry legends that continue to make the maximum business. Lata-Rafi, Kishore Kumar and R D Burman are amongst the hottest selling artist compilations, point out industry sources. Theme based compilations usually do well during festive seasons closely followed by regional compilations.

According to Mirchandani, "Universal Music is the largest music company in the world, rich is repertoire across genres. Hence we theme our compilations - love, current hits, hip hop, country, nostalgia etc. There`s always something for everyone."

Some samplers from 2007 compilations -Shemaroo A Bollywood Stars Series, Music Caf© Series and Dual Series of compilations R.D. Burman - The Immortal Collection`Beedi Jalaile... Garma Garam Hits` - item songs from recent Hindi films`O Saathi Re . . .` - thematic song compilation, featuring 12 soft, romantic love songsYBRAdnan Sami, The Greatest Hits6 CD album `100 Dance Songs` covering the greatest hits from Aamir Khan`s first song in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak to Himesh`s latest foot-tapping numbers classical compilations*The Piper Of Benares *The Legend Of Sarod *The Wizard Of Tabla *The Masters Of Bass And Strings *The Lord Of 100 Strings Times music Compilation of all the potent mantras and chants by wellknown artistes, in an album titled Spiritual Gold.Yash Raj Films Music Four separate compilations of its hit movies, each in their instrumental version

Compilations can be single artist compilations too, and include the greatest and the best hits of that artist as an actor or a singer. Themed compilations also help in minting great money to the music companies.

Other than these, companies like T Series, Saregama and Yash Raj have this year brought out albums that are compilations around Valentine Days, Ganesh festival, national integration songs woven around Independence and Republic days...., while some companies have also begun compiling the best and the greatest hits of a year into a single album, thanks to short shelf span of movie albums.

International hits, particularly by artists who have performed in India also do well in compilation form here. Says EMI India strategic marketing manager T V N Sridhar, "Compilation happens on the basis of commercial feasibility, current hits and demand from the crowd. Indian population is turning very rock based. We have different sets of audience demanding international and Bollywood compilations." Mirchadani however feels that the Indian music scene is completely dominated by Bollywood and international music continues to be a niche segment in India.

Old Hindi tracks also make the most business for music companies. Avers Sonalkar, "Within Bollywood, old film compilations sell more than the latest ones. A mix and match of the two is also happening now. Compilations are also largely dependent on the content the music company owns. Compilation of remixes rarely does well but compilations of new Bollywood numbers especially the dance tracks are more in demand than the remixes. But topping the list is definitely the old Hindi music. There is a serious demand for music preceding the 1990s."

Compiled albums of regional and devotional music which includes mantras and chants is accepted more than the music compilations of particular Gods; regional has its own taste within which Punjabi music is largely sold all over India. Adds Mirchandani, "Compilations sell based on content and positioning of the album. If the content is strong and the theme relates to the audience, there`s no reason why the album won`t sell."

According to Sridhar, Pakistani ghazals, club compilations are also making good money. "For instance, the compilation of Shamur was sold out solely on basis of one track - Let the Music Play. In India, artist compilations are done if and only if the artist is established. For EMI, our frontline artist and compilations are more or less doing equal business," he adds.

But compilations are a challenging business. Over a period of time, the listeners want value for money. So the music has to be rightly compiled, says Natrajan. "Every compiled album has its own target audience and if deviated, even a single album can run the music company into great losses.""While compiling, the target audience is given prime importance so that the music company manages to sell maximum units," says Sonalkar.

Even the newbie on the block, Big Music is in talks to acquire music rights to some of the early Hindi films. They are considering compilations in order to expand their reach, say sources. Says Big Music`s Rajeeta Hemwani, "Big represents every genre of music and hence, it will take us a few more months before we start compiling; but we definitely will! In fact, I strongly say that every music company should come up with compiled albums as compilations maximize the potential of every album."

The number of compilations released by music companies is dependent on their set target for the year, particularly when the fiscal year`s target cannot be achieved due to some market driven factors. "But for a compilation to be successful, it has to be a healthy mix. There are no golden rules here," says Natrajan.