| 18 Jul 2024
2013: The year was for Label Companies

MUMBAI: Falling sales in physical for music label companies is not a concern anymore as they learnt alternative sources like digital sales, artiste management, live gigs and many such activities as a means to generate revenue. But along with this the label companies are still not willing to give away the small share of income coming in from physical sales.

2013 was a year of partnerships, acquisitions, TRAI decisions and many such acts that impacted the growth rate of the music industry. TRAI’s decision of double confirmation was constantly blamed by the top notches in the radio industry for the decline in business. In 2012 the music industry had anticipated 2013 to have bullish trends that did not take off. This is probably the reason the music industry decided to talk about realistic predictions for the year 2014. During the fifth edition of the Nokia Music Connects (NMC), many honchos agreed to the fact that in 2014 the music business would be stable but claimed that their respective companies would indulge in activities that would get their company to enjoy excellent growth. In order to understand whether or not the claims are within reach, the readers and industry experts will have to wait till 2014.

Without rating (which does not go down well with most label companies), has decide to give you a quick re-cap of what this year was for some label companies.

T-series: Super Cassettes Industries Limited that own the music label T-Series, has to be the first one in the list, reason being it has held a monopoly over the Bollywood music business. ‘Love it or hate it, but you can't ignore it’, the phrases goes very well for Bollywood music even though there is a shift in the music palates across audiences. It still contributes to 65 per cent of the over Indian music business (stated in NMC 5). T-series was heading the Bollywood race of acquiring audio rights to some of the small to big-budget films. This aggressive approach helped the label company to revive its production house. The film and soundtrack of ‘Aashiqui 2’ under the T-series umbrella had created lot of news. The label company signed many music composers like Mithoon, Rashid Khan and others.

The good name was overshadowed when the company faced irate singers on the royalty issue. The controversy sparked off when Sonu Nigam expressed his concern over a track that he sung for Shekar Suman’s ‘Heartless’. This was followed by comments and counter comments, whereby top singers voiced their displeasure on the agreements issued by T-series for singers. After days of rage, things have grown cold but one cannot assume it is over as there are chances the undercurrents shaping into a wave. This year T-series failed to keep those singers happy who have huge fan following.

Universal Music India: Universal Music India has been focusing on Indie space for a while now and continues to focus at this genre. The international acquisition of EMI has helped Universal Music India to explore the EMI India catalogue which had in past held a strong hold in devotional music in Southern India. This surely would have helped Universal Music add more flavour to its existing vast catalogue.

Interscope Records, which operates as one third of Universal Music Group's Interscope Geffen A&M, has signed Bollywood sensation Priyanka Chopra and made her a household name in the U.S. To promote her music in India, Universal India had been investing their full force and strength to get her singles sold in India. The label company is making music borderless in the literal sense. For instance, the single ‘Turn the Night Up’ from Enrique Iglesias got a unique touch with a Bollywood spin as music producer / DJ AKS delivered an Indian remix with vocals from Pakistani vocalist Mustafa Zahid.

2013 could not get any more awesome for the label company. It was able to convince former Westlife member and lead vocalist- Shane Filan to release his single 'Everything To Me', from his debut solo Album 'You & Me' in India. Then, for EDM lovers good news came when Lost Stories officially remixed DJ Afrojack’s single ‘The Spark’ featuring Spree Wilson. Live gigs are another space this company is very passionate about. There are hopes (not this year as it is ending) but next year we can see some pop artistes under the label come and take the stage by storm.

Sony Music: Yet another International company who has taken a step forward after it announced a strategic licence deal whereby Sony Music will represent Warner Music's recording artists' releases and labels in India, Sri Lanka and the other SAARC countries. The company acquired music rights of films like ‘Murder 3’, ‘Kai Po Che’, ‘ABCD’ (digital distribution), ‘Gori Tere Pyaar Mein’ and ‘Gippi’ to name a few. And later, decided to go aggressive in regional space. Music rights of Tamil films like ‘Vanakkam Chennai’ and ‘Maryan’ music rights were also acquired by Sony music.

Sony Music has also added a live property titled ‘Cadbury Bournville- Not So Sweet Nights’ that had elements of music and comedy. This company felt a decline in VAS revenue but manages to hold on and make revenue through other means.

Times Music: The music and music IP management business of the Times of India Group, Times music scored after it signed an exclusive licensing deal under which Times Music will represent Warner Chappell’s rich catalogue in India. The agreement will see Times music managing the rights to Warner Chappell’s repertoire and driving publishing and synch deals on behalf of a wide array of artistes. The label has been acquiring content across genres. For instance, it had released Hema Malini’s debut devotional album ‘Soundaryalahari’, Bollywood film ‘Rajjo’ and also Finnish artiste Jessica Wolff’s album ‘Renegade’. It also acquired the music rights of Thala Ajith’s much awaited film ‘Veeram’.

Saregama: This label had been acquiring music rights in the regional space and has not been all that aggressive in acquiring rights to Bollywood films. The reason being it is busy building the infrastructure to become stronger digitally. But the company will be moving forward in this direction as it has been trying to crack deals that will be encashed next year. The legacy of 100 years is the strength of the company. Saregama reported PAT of Rs 2.49 crore for Q2-2014, which was more than double (2.28 times) the PAT of Rs 1.09 crore it had reported for the corresponding quarter last year.

In order to concentrate on digital, Saregama signed a three year deal with Sony DADC that allows Sony DADC to access the entire Saregama audio and video content library, including its sales, marketing and distribution across all physical formats.

Saregama tied-up with Nokia for five film music albums. Saregama will offer Nokia handset buyers an exclusive opportunity to download music albums of the five films for free from the Nokia Music Store. The five films include ‘Thillu Mullu 2’, ‘Sutta Kadhai’, 'Nalanum Nandhiniyum’, and ‘Coffee with my wife’ and (Kannada-Telugu). One will have to wait and see what it will be doing for coming years.

(It is not at all based on any form of rating or ranking. It just to bring you a glimpse of the activities label company carried in 2013. In case you have any form of grievances free feel to have a word with the editorial team.)