'Music is not free'
..says Rajat Kakar, CEO & MD of Phonographic Performance Limited, & Rajesh Dhupad, Joint Secretary of South Indian Music Companies Association, talking about monetisation of public performances
Music royalty is a hot topic in both the music and film industries. Though monetisation of music has been constantly spoken about in recent times, not many consumers are completely aware of the exact rules and regulations behind this. As a recent development, the music licensing body, Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), has joined hands with South Indian Music Companies Association (SIMCA) to monitor and track the usage of all their musical properties in events such as weddings and public performances.
We spoke with Rajat Kakar, the CEO of PPL and Rajesh Dhupad, the Joint Secretary of SIMCA about their mutual agreement and its impact on the music consumer.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) is already in charge of collecting royalty for public performances. How different is the role of PPL?
Rajat: We do not collect royalty for live performances; that is the exclusive role of IPRS. But both our organisations are responsible for monetising the recorded commercial music that is being played in malls, restaurants, bars and discotheques.
Rajesh: Any song that is recorded has two rights. The first is the sound recording rights and it is handled by PPL. The other--composition and lyric rights--are handled by the IPRS.
Will this merger have an effect on normal music consumers?
Rajesh: No, not at all. Our focus is only on establishments that make use of commercial music to entertain their customers. So it won't have any impact on music being played in, say, house parties. If a wedding is being hosted in a hotel or a marriage hall, then the concerned place has to pay us the royalty. And religious places like churches and temples are completely exempted from this fee.
Consumption of music varies from one establishment to other. How do you formulate a standard fee?
Rajat: We are completely aware of the differences in music consumption. So we charge them annually for all the songs. Since we have 2.8 million Indian and international songs, signing up once will give the establishments a permit to play all our content infinite number of times through the year. The fees are calculated based on the square feet of the place or its occupancy.
How will this money reach the composers and lyricists?
Rajesh: The money being pooled will be split up among the music labels that have signed a deal with PPL, including the members of SIMCA, based on the market shares and audited data. The music labels will forward the amount to the composers and lyricists based on their agreements.
Don't you think this will be a heavy burden on smaller establishments?
Rajesh: Not at all. Even the biggest mall in the town can get an annual permit by paying just fifty thousand rupees, which comes down to 125 rupees per day and 5 rupees per hour. The fee is much lesser for smaller establishments. The amount is not something they cannot afford.
Ilaiyaraaja has said that South Indian Film Musicians Association will collect the royalty for his songs. Is that possible?
Rajesh: Ilaiyaraaja is a small part of a huge industry. No composer has ever done what he is trying to do now. I am not saying he should not do it, but I'd like to say that it is close to impossible. If Ilaiyaraaja's representative collects a fee from one organisation for his songs, the next day Harris Jeyaraj's representative could visit the place requesting a separate royalty, and it will be an endless process if every composer chooses to follow that path.
Over the world, the fee is being collected by collective societies and music rights bodies. And that is how things have been all over the world, and even India till now. In fact, Ilaiyaraaja was also doing that as long as he was a member of IPRS and he was getting a huge sum of money from the organisation all these years.
What is your take on those who play music without proper rights?
Rajat: Music is not free. It's a violation to use our music without paying for it. And this is similar to stealing a person's physical property. If someone does this intentionally, I have all the rights to file a criminal case. I can make my tariffs more accessible if every single establishment makes the decision to pay the copyright fees. At the end of the day, the money is going to be used for the development of the music industry.