| 29 Nov 2023
Big Music CEO Kulmeet Makkar - The kind of music that is being created now is music on the move

Taking up where he left off last week, Big Music CEO Kulmeet Makkar speaks his mind on the changing dynamics of the Indian music industry in a free wheeling chat with's Chirag Sutar. Read on...

In the two decades that you have spent in the music industry, What kind of changes have you observed?

Music has undergone two kinds of transitions – the first transition was when the format changed from physical to digital - that was eight to 10 years back. The second transition came when radio came into the scenario and also when mobile operators came into the picture. The challenge today is that we have to create music which is in line with the formats the consumer is comfortable with. The kind of music that is being created now is music on the move. For instance, when you are driving in the car, a song like Mitwa from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna makes more sense than listening to a slow track. Unfortunately, it is not time for melody based romantic music. Even if it's a romantic song, it has to have high energy, thumping beats because nobody is listening to music at home.

OK, please go on.

Over the years, people have moved away from buying albums to buying songs. Today, if the listeners like a song, they will consume it – but they don't buy an entire album because of one song. I feel the sense of ownership has also gone. We don't want to own music, we want to consume a particular song and that consumption can be on radio, the iPod, or your computers. So we like the music, we consume it, but we don't buy – we no longer feel proud top own CDs – it's the consumption and the ownership change that has changed the physical sales completely. There are so many options available for listening to music now 

Music has become a value add, rather than a standalone driver – it's always in the background now. This change has also devalued music to a large extent, today we don't have standalone music players – it's a byproduct of a home theatre system which plays video and can also play music!

What do you think guarantees a successful film album in the present circumstances?

One hit track is most essential, but if can manage to have more than one hit, the chances of the album doing well goes up. See for instance, the albums like Jab We Met, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Rock On – all have more than one hit number and musically all have done well.

Today, music has moved from being a revenue resource for producers, to being a marketing resource. Today, we are using music to promote the film – if the producer can create one big hit track, they know that because of the music, it will draw audiences to the theatre.

How many units are brought out at the time of release nowadays?

It's minimum. Initially, we just do a token release, but if the music becomes a hit, we can keep releasing more. I have handled the music of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaaenge, nearly 15 years ago. I am used to a time when we sold 15 million units! Today, we launch with just about 50,000 units. First, the number of outlets to sell the music are just not there, they have drastically come down - earlier, even the grocery shops, the paanwala would stock music, that's not happening anymore. People have options.

Don't you think ghazals/ soulful songs are disappearing from films?

Anything which is soft requires mood and ambience. Unfortunately, people are not listening to music at home – that time has gone when people heard music in drawing rooms, switching on the music players 

It's not that Jagjit Singh does not sing as well anymore. It's the question of how you listen to music now. Films may not have ghazals but films still have soulful music – Rahat Fatheh Ali Khan is the same genre - the only thing is that if you look at the music arrangements, the pitch is high, so that music can be heard on the move – while driving, or partying 

Ironically, this changing dynamics is agitating musicians…

It's all about commerce, at the end of the day people are creating music that sells – you are not creating music to feel happy about. I will only create music which makes audiences happy and something which the audience pays for. If the audience doesn't want to listen to a certain kind of music, unfortunately nobody will invest in it 

Coming back to your blockbuster hit – What do you think worked for Rock On?

I think Rock On delivered rock music in a mass way. Normally, the music and the film go hand in hand – film music promotes the film and when the film releases, the music takes off. Rock On was a classic example when the film was released and the music went through the roof. After the film was released, we experimented with selling CDs outside theaters i.e, as soon as the audience came out of the theatre, we had a person standing with a Rock On CD – that worked really well.

How much has BIG invested in music?

It's still insignificant. We haven't invested in music; however, in home video we have made quite some investments. In the international segment we have  a 60 per cent market share and in the domestic market, our strategy is to have at least four super hit films in a year – that's the strategy we are working on – in music, we still have to wait for the right time.