With the faster penetration of mobile telephony and growth of FM radio stations, the business of music is growing as well as changing, providing a whole world of options for listeners too. The session on ‘Changing trends in music’ on the concluding day of FICCI Frames 2008 had industry leaders and other stakeholders discussing the impact of changing listeners’ choice on the industry.
The panellists for the session included Kulmeet Makkar, CEO, Big Music & Home Entertainment; Bollywood music composing duo of Salim and Sulaiman; Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi; Anurag Batra, Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media; and, Ralph Simon, Chairman of UK-based Mobicon.
The session began with Batra stating, “The music CD industry in the country is around $150 million. Technology has changed the way music is consumed today – from huge records to iTunes on one hand, and music fused with other forms of content and entertainment on the other hand.”
Following Batra, Kulmeet Makkar spoke about how the consumer had changed and consequently how the way music was consumed had also changed. “Today, the shelf life of music has become very short. Bollywood forms a significant part of our music industry, but multiple players can survive and make money in this industry. For instance, one can be part of a large Kishore Kumar community and choose a line of his songs depending on the mood. Also, each niche music segment can be part of a larger community,” Makkar noted.
Sharing his expertise in mobile music, Ralph Simon said, “An artist today must be able to create a song keeping in mind its various applications. Along with a song he must slice a small piece that can be used as a mobile ringtone or a video ringtone. Professionals need to fight for a very short attention span of the audience and hence, must be able to create numbers or scores that have more than one application. They need to think beyond the track and move on to other innovative ways to use it and monetise it.”
He also introduced the audience to a new term in the industry – sneeze – which is to say that a musician must be able to make the right noises and popularise the track.
Each time a person listens to a track he/she hums it or shares it with someone else, this way, through word-of-mouth, people throw sneezes and eventually make the music popular.
On how radio could be a partner to the music industry and help the industry grow, Prashant Panday remarked that what was needed was a 4Ps agenda – Popularisation, Piracy, Platform, and Pop music.
“Radio as a medium can play an important role in curbing piracy, and our company would like to offer our help in doing so. On behalf of the entire radio industry we would like to inform that we are ready to invest $1 million to fight piracy,” Panday offered. According to him, radio as a medium could help upcoming and new musicians launch their work and help them grow. He too felt that radio stations could help musicians monetise their work through ringtones and downloads.
After the business aspect of music, came the creative aspects that was brought to the fore by the composer duo of Salim-Sulaiman. “We don’t have a music industry here, just a film industry. All our films are musicals and just Bollywood forms a major part of our music industry. We need young talent if we want to help grow this industry better. Ironically, few youths learn to play musical instruments today nor are there many to learn western classical music. We have very few orchestras, which is one of the major reasons for the current talent crunch,” lamented Salim Merchant. He also pointed out, “Our educational system also needs to change as we have only a handful of educational institutes and music schools in the country.”
Agreeing with him, Sulaiman Merchant said, “Music has changed because there are very few people who want to take risks. Today, music is the face or first impression of a film. So, directors and producers don’t take any risks and want numbers that not just popularise their music but also pull in the audiences. Hence, a talented musician will not be able to do a good work, but do what the producer demands.”
The session concluded on a unanimous note that the country needed to have more non-film music and that the music industry was moving towards digitalisation. There was also call for the industry to come together to fight piracy.