RadioandMusic
| 08 Dec 2021
Big Music CEO Kulmeet Makkar -We have serious plans to enter into regional languages - Tamil, Telugu, Bengali & Punjabi

Kulmeet Makkar took over as the chief executive officer of Big Music and Home Entertainment, the new division floated by Reliance Entertainment in 2007.

Makkar is responsible for content acquisition and business of not only Indian languages but also the global content in music and home entertainment, with a strong presence in physical and digital space across India and overseas. Makkar, who was music major Saregama for 18 years, was chief executive of Saregama's music business before joining Reliance.

With Big Music poised to make a mark in the Indian music space in a big way in 2008, Radioandmusic.com quizzed Makkar on some of the company's plans and proposed strategies.

Excerpts:

What kind of strategy has Big Music been following since you took over in May 2007? Are you going for the big Bollywood acquisitions, will you be targeting regional music too?

Bollywood is critical and we have major plans to acquire rights of Bollywood films, including some big projects. This does not mean that we only want to be a Mumbai based Bollywood company.
We have serious plans to enter into regional languages as well; such as Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Punjabi.

Are global content acquisitions also part of your plans for 2008?

We are talking to various studios and independent labels for Hollywood and world content. As you would know, we represent Universal Pictures in India for their entire Hollywood library on Home Video and also for some other countries.

Big Music has signed on big names like Jagjit Singh and Shankar Mahadevan this year. What kind of unique properties will be developed with these artistes?

We would not like to be a regular recording label. Our game plan is to build brands around artistes and work with them to exploit through events ,TV, on ground etc.
How well did the recent release of a Gujarati album with Jagjit Singh work?
We received huge appreciation from the community for this initiative. Jagjit Singh is a big name with Gujaratis worldwide and they have enjoyed listening to Jagjit singh and his ghazals over the years. This was a first Ghazal album by Jagjit singh in Gujarati. The album has a long term value, we therefore expect this music to be in demand for years.

How are you exploiting the digital platform? Have their been any tie ups with online stores to sell your music, in India or elsewhere?

We are currently working on a strategy to build strong digital platforms. So far, we have partnered with Hungama and IMI mobile for distribution of some of our products.

Like Saregama did recently, will Big also go in for an online store?Is the Indian market ready for it?

Online store is on every company's wish list. Unfortunately, the Indian market is not yet ready to get any significant revenues. We are keeping our options open.

What kind of innovations does Big plan to combat cheap pirated goods or even online piracy? Do innovations like giving add-ons with CDs really help sales?

Online piracy is a huge threat to the business. In physical space, Value adds do help to covert sales but only for the bigger products with significant add ons.

How much of digital revenue (from ringtones, CRBTs etc) has Big been able to mop up with releases like Johny Gaddar and Cash and Dhamaal? How much will these contribute to the bottomline in the current fiscal?

Digital revenues from the film music are as high as 40 per cent of the total revenue. All three films you mentioned have been significant on digital. The success on digital is a function of how many hit tracks we have in the soundtrack.

How are you planning to tap the overseas market?

We are working with partners in physical and digital space across all critical international markets such as UK/Europe, North America, Far east, Middle east etc.

Are you also aggressively pursuing old content? How do old Bollywood content sales fare in relation to the new one? What kind of old content has been sourced so far?

We are planning to build a significant library of back catalogue in Music as well as Home Video.. Old Bollywood content continues to sell, however the new is getting more and more relevant specially in urban and youth segment.

Is Big Music also looking at searching for new talent? Do the talent hunts on television help in hunting for such talent? Are you coming out with any such albums?

There is a dedicated team handling new talent and artiste management. Our association with Star's Voice of India was a step towards the same. We are launching the first music album of the VOI winner in early January '08.

Why did Big Music back out of the Jodhaa Akbar deal with UTV?

Big Music did not back out from this deal. There were difference in the rights and other contract clauses between UTV and us which were not getting resolved on time, hence the window for music release was getting shorter. UTV, in the meanwhile was also considering launching their label for sometime and they decided to launch their music label with music of Jodhaa Akbar.