RadioandMusic
| 07 Dec 2021
Music labels rush to cash in on Rahman's triumph

MUMBAI: After A R Rahman brought home twin Oscars, music labels in India are leaving no stone unturned to cash in on the Rahman fever. T-Series has already launched a Rahman compilation last week. Others like Sony BMG, Saregama are working on similar lines and are planning early March launches for similar compilations.

T-Series launched a three CD set two days before the Oscar awards and the album has been well received by music lovers. Says T-Series president - marketing media publishing (TV) Vinod Bhanushali, The album tracks Rahman's journey from Roja to Slumdog Millionaire as we own many of his titles like 1947 earth, Nayak, Doli sajake rakhna, and the recent titles acquired in the last two years- Yuvvraaj, Jaane tu ya jaane na, Ghajini and Delhi 6....

The label promoted the set across all television channels; and aired an interesting 90 second promo across all music and news channels.

Sony BMG, on the other hand, is in talks with major music labels including Saregama, Times Music, Venus Records etc to acquire music rights of Rahman's titles. Sony BMG would be tentatively be launching a compilation of Rahman's hits in March.

Sony BMG Marketing director Sanujeet Bhujabal says, We are looking at most of his landmark works including songs from his Tamil soundtracks. Our compilation would include Rahman songs across Bollywood, Tamil numbers, albums etc. We already have some five to six Tamil titles which would be a part of the compilation....

A R Rahman and Sony BMG have been associated with his first album 'Vande Mataram'. We have been doing A R Rahman collections/compilations since the past couple of years for his fans. We feel it gives a nice platform to showcase AR Rahman's range of music to all his fans worldwide,... says Bhujabal.

Venus, which already has three earlier Rahman compilations in the market would be giving out their title track of 'Dil se' to Sony BMG, which is also in talks with Times Music for the rights of Rahman's �Jana gana mana', the only Rahman title with that label. Sony BMG is also obtaining the rights of �Saathiya' and �Sapnay' from Saregama.

Saregama would also be launching a compilation by 10 March by buying rights from other music labels like Sony BMG, Venus, Universal etc.

Saregama head, New Media and Publishing Gautam Sarakar denies that the label is trying to cash in on the slumdog phenomenon. We had thought about this album much earlier as Rahman has a great fan following and we have many Rahman titles. We would be mass marketing on a national level rather than focusing on individual regional markets. We would be printing about 5000 copies of Rahman's compilation CDs....

Although the music labels are launching their music in the month of March, they believe it won't be too late to cash on the current rage caused by Danny Boyle's blockbuster film. Explains Sarkar, Rahman already has a huge following among many music lovers who don't bother about his winning awards. We had earlier launched Rahman's compilations for our overseas market like US and the response was phenomenal. For our Germany launch of Rahman compilation, volume 1 sales touched marks unheard in Indian markets....

Obtaining music across labels has opened licensing opportunities for Rahman tracks and an agreement has been struck between the labels. Talking about the monies involved, Bhujabal says, It is a standard practice among labels to cross license repertoire and it works on a royalty system....

There is an agreement between music labels under the IMI ambit where the music labels exchange their content varying from Rs 1.80 to Rs 5.30 per track and multiply it with the number of prints to derive at the royalty figure.

T-Series rules the roost as the label has the latest Rahman acquistions and according to the current copyright laws, songs which are less than two years old cannot be compiled or reproduced by other labels.

With the extraordinary success of Slumdog Millionaire, international audiences have become receptive to Indian music in general as also the Bollywood music. Saregama is also exploiting the digital platform by uploading the compilations of Rahman's melodies on iTunes and other international websites. Says Sarkar, Our main focus is the international audiences who have woken up to Indian music and are looking out for more Rahman music. We are pushing them on various websites and have received a positive response for the same....

T-Series VP digital content Neeraj Kalyan states, Digital sales in terms of mobile and publishing in terms of radio plays are doing good and we there has been a spurt in volumes post Oscars. The data is yet to come but initial reports suggest that it is in line with our expectations. The Oscars have accelerated the sales as very few people were aware of the film until it won golden globe, the response was expected to be slow in the beginning but we had confidence in the product and our consistence promotions kept it alive on TV and radio and post its winning spree there was no looking back....

Tracking the sale of Slumdog audio CDs since its launch in India, retailers unanimously agree that the physical sales have been more than some of the biggest blockbusters last year including Rock on, Jaane tu ya jaane na. For the industry which is suffering from dwindling physical sales, Slumdog has been a saviour. Rhythm House director Mehmood Curmally says, The day the Oscars were announced, we sold about 45 copies, followed by 41 copies the next day--- a good figure in these days....

Post Slumdog, sales of Rahman's compilations at some retail stores have been phenomenal within the first few days itself. Curmally states, After the Oscars, there have been good sales of Slumdog audio CDs as curiosity rose among the masses. But there have been days when we have sold the compilations more than Slumdog CDs, amounting to 40-45 audio CDs a day!... Surprisingly, the profile of buyers pouring in for Rahman's music is not primarily youngsters but the urban population aged between 25-35.

Like Rhythm house, many other retail outlets are exploiting the opportunity and have sold thousands of copies of Slumdog and compilations. Retail players are expecting music lovers to stroll in for Rahman's melodies for a month or so and are cashing on the hype surrounding the award winning Slumdog's victory. With the sales picking up, it has boosted the physical sales but it is too early to predict whether it would add on the music companies' bottomline.