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New streams of revenue out of bounds

What seems to be irking the music directors and lyricists alike is the lack of revenue as royalties from new streams such as mobile ring tones, online song downloads and the revenue turnover from online media such as YouTube. “I pay Rs.45 a month to listen to my own songs as a ringtone,” says lyricist Thamarai. “It is a complete rip-off because everyone but the artists is making money out of this.”

The Indian film music industry has finally gone through the paradigm shift from physical music CD sales to digital downloads. The music directors and lyricists do receive their stream of revenue from FM radios and live performances though whatever Indian Performing Rights Society manages to put together. But the bigger numbers, most of them feel, are now from the digital stream, something over which they have little or no stakes in.

The arm-twisting by the music labels is often indirect, they charge. “The music labels withhold the final payment of their audio deal with producers and urge them to get us to sign such contracts,” Mr.Prakash, said in a telephonic interview with The Hindu.

The stakes are pretty high over Tamil film audio rights. The right combination of music director, director and actor could fetch the producer anything in the range of Rs.two crore, and often this is the last piece of bargaining chip before the film’s release. In most cases, the producers are desperate to get the amount in the run-up to the box office release.

The music directors and lyricists who are up in arms say they will approach the Tamil Film Producers’ Council and The Tamil Film Writers’ Union to ensure that none of the artists yield to the pressures being exerted by the labels.

Sony India did not respond immediately to the allegations, when contacted. EOM

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