| 22 May 2024
My vision is to enhance value for both members and users of Sound Recordings: Rajat Kakar

Music is created with an aim to be used wisely and with security and PPL is one of those bodies that protects work of sound recording owners on broadcasting, telcos and public platforms.

Rajat Kakar’s appointment as the new President and CEO of PPL is making waves in the Music Industry. He has walked in with a vision of the labels and the users.

In an interesting conversation with Radioandmusic, Rajat Kakar shared insights on the changes PPL will witness, how PPL will function while keeping the labels and the licensees engaged to ensure complete buy in of strategies for growth with compliance  along with aims and goals the company is heading towards and more. Excerpts. 

Can you share the vision you are working on for the past six months?

I joined PPL on 1 January 2018 with a clear mandate to make PPL a professional and transparent organisation. Transparency in licensing, practices, our governance, our distribution of money is extremely important and I think one of the key criteria is the hallmark of a well run collective rights management organisation

Next is to run it like a professional company. At times, there was this perception that PPL was an old economy kind of organisation and that have not changed with time. I think there was a nudge required to take this to a next level and that’s been the mandate keeping us busy for the last six months. We want to be clear that we are not here for profit; the labels give us the rights to exploit as per their mandate. We have been like an octopus putting our tentacles everywhere and trying to change everything.

What are the changes that have taken place at PPL since you joined?

To start with, we have completely revamped our management team. There is a new MD, CFO (Chief Financial Officer), Head of Business Development, and Head of Licensing. Besides this, we have let go of certain people, whose calibre was not up to the mark. So we had a cleansing of the entire system.

We are in the process of hiring people from different walks of life, who are bringing the missing elements in PPL like people who can bring skills of sales and marketing, B2B business etc which will help us are reaching out to our licensees.

Second is on the professional front as we do not want anyone figure - pointing at the running of this place. Hence, we have appointed the best of auditors (internal and external), who will advise us on best practices. This is to establish that we are imbibing the best business processes with the stamp of approval from the best in the field.

We are in the process of revamping our constitution, which are the Article of Association so that we are in touch with the times we are living in. There will be an AGM held soon on the same. Though it sounds small, this change, should hold us in god stead for the next 20 years.

Will the board of directors too change?

Definitely! PPL has always had music companies on the board of directors, but now we will have independent directors – new faces on board. We have people from the regional companies, representing companies from the North and South. We are trying to get in touch with more companies alongside. Also, we are getting people from the non-music background to help understand the scenario with a different perception. The new directors are linked with the change in the constitution and once this is done, things will start moving ahead with greater speed.

Would you like to share the changes made in the licensing process?

We are now starting an online licensing process. Nobody has to reach out to us or find where we exist. Now people can go online, fill in the details, which will give the tariff amount one has to pay, do a NEFT/Credit Card and download the license. This will roll out later next month. For people, who had difficult with our licensing procedure as well as money disputes, things will now be transparent.

Do you feel the need to change the tariff system?

We are engaged in the simplification of the tariff system. There have been questions on the tariff and its transparency. Whether it is current and in sync with the business that happens today. We have made it simple on the basis of  feedback from licensees we are engaged with like hotels, restaurants, malls and retailers.

How are the Indian music labels reacting to these changes?

It’s been amazing how people have been very supportive. We have had so many new members in PPL after the changes that have happened. People, who have been out of PPL for various reasons have come back. We have also a large group in the South, which will join us enmases soon. One of the biggest labels from the South, Lahari Music has joined us too.

I think the changes are giving confidence to existing labels and the ones that had left us. They realise that we are here to make a meaningful change.

The good part is, nobody left us in these six months, in fact people have renewed their mandates with us. We have around 270 members today and I want to hit 300 by the end of this year.

How do you track the usage of music?

We are trying to use social media to know where all our music is being used. There is an amazing data- analysis, companies that are throwing out information using artificial intelligence and informing us that ‘in so and so town at so and so time your music has been used’. And there are licensing efforts that will flow in that direction with this information to help us. We will make sure that the payment is made and also the amount is in a small fraction of their earnings so as to make them willingly compliant.

We are trying to get all the event venues listed with us for which we are marketing using social media to help them understand that the procedure for licensing is now simple.

How are weddings and functions tapped in terms of music?

Coming to things like weddings, it is a 25 thousand crore wedding market. Yes, we are licensing the pre-parties that are held (cocktail, sangeet). But wedding ceremony, we are not, because the wedding ritual is excluded by the government.

Most people are taking licenses because when an event is held in a respectable venue, the venue itself asks the party to take PPL license.

What do you have to say about WIPO treaties?

WIPO is a body that encourages all member states to stay uniform in terms of the way protection happens for intellectual copyright. India signing these treaties will ensure further investment happens in the Music Market. Major labels are present in India already; the point is how much more they will be investing now. There are many waiting in the wings too. We see a large number of independent labels coming to the market too. I believe India is a huge market and we need to project it like one.

Also Read: PPL welcomes Indian Government's decision to approve accession to WIPO treaties


How different is PPL’s performance in India compared to Global norms?

We are a body that is governed by the music labels. We are here today because the music labels want us to be. We are not here for profit; the labels give us the rights to exploit their mandate.

The global average of companies like PPL, which is one of the sound recording CMO’s (Collective Management Organisations), today is contributing 12 to 15 per cent in the global music market. But, in India, the number is less than 5 per cent. So, the aim is to reach to the double-digits with the changes we are undertaking. Also, we want to be at par with the world and my personal aim is to be ahead of the world given the reach and diversity of Indian music.  

What is that one element that makes PPL stand out?

Well, I think the good part is that we are engaged with the government, therefore, whatever we are doing is transparent. We have had regular meetings with the government and they are aware of all the positive change that is taking place at PPL. Plus, we will have some famous personalities on board as independent directors. There is a constant updating on the need for copyright change like the one that happened in 2012 and the need to acceded to the recently signed WIPO treaties so that global companies feel secure in India.

Where do you see PPL 10 years from now?

10 times in terms of revenue! Also making sure we distribute the money to our members very fast and cut down the distribution lead time. We will take help of technology to save time. As a result, we have also signed with IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) an agreement to participate in a regional project, where we will have accessibility to regional data thereby reducing the unmatched songs percentage drastically.