BY VINOD MIRANI
Indian music is selling again and gaining in crore. Looks like you don’t need a full album anymore, just one number is enough to make millions. Despite a huge number of sales, a movie buff may not identify these songs with a movie! Simply because those millions of dollars in songs aren’t movie songs and aren’t likely to fit into a movie situation either.
Music has always been an integral part of our films, as you couldn’t even imagine a film without songs. But, the melodic music that has earned its place in a story situation is a thing of the past. India is rich in its musical traditions with a range of musical instruments, music maestros called Pandit or Ustad and its musical gharanas. However, described as classical music, it was not and is not for everyone. It has its own among the most demanding followers.
It was the film music that immediately wowed people and started playing in their minds. It was the magic of film music. It was rare that a film with poor or mediocre music was accepted by the viewer. But, then, a movie with all the hit songs didn’t always work. And that’s when the content of the film was rejected, not the music. The proof is that even these songs are as persistent today as those from a blockbuster movie.
If one wants further proof of how music from the movies of yesteryear is still alive today and sells in the millions, the proof lies in the music company, Saregama India Limited (formerly HMV as it is known). popularly called) Carvaan, a compact radio-type device available in various versions, filled with songs from old movies that sold in large numbers and revived the business.
If Saregama has such a rich repertoire of hit songs from films, it is thanks to the virtual monopoly he enjoyed in the music market until the mid-1970s. It was at this point that Polydor , a music company based in Germany, entered India with a local collaboration. Polydor (later becoming Music India only to be eventually taken over by Univeral Music) began offering filmmakers an advance to lure them in and break Saregama’s decades-old monopoly of paying royalties to the music rights owner based on sales. But, rumor has spread that music and movies go hand in hand in the world’s largest film-producing country, India. More companies like CBS, Oriental, Magnasound, Virgin Records and a few others have entered the Indian music scene.
Salable musical compositions were becoming increasingly scarce, but that did not deter more players from entering. While the traditional music market lasted, the first to come and change the way the music industry operated was the late Gulshan Kumar’s T series. Gulshan Kumar was an adventurous entrepreneur and started the trend of buying movie soundtracks; profit or loss, it was all up to him. No accountability or royalties to pay afterwards as was the practice until now.
Seeing the success of the T series, many new music labels entered the market, with Venus and Tips being the most prominent. They couldn’t compete with the T-series which had an exemplary marketing channel and, with the changing of the guard at the helm, with Bhushan Kumar taking over, also the knack for changing over time.
Among the old players, only T-Series remains active on the market. Music as we knew it, which was identified with films, no longer exists today except in name and there are no longer any cut up music discs or pre-recorded cassettes. Those days are long gone.
Now all the music you want is on the Internet, mobile networks and FM radios.
So how do companies like Zee, Times, Sony, Music Today, Eros still hold up? Not only these companies, but many new companies are emerging. Some of the new actors who are becoming active now include Desi Melodies, Jjust Music, the company of songwriters duo Sachin-Jigar, Panorama Music by Kumar Mangat in addition to Vinod Bhanushali, who spent 26 years with T-Series, launching his studios. Bhanushali.
Why are these new labels popping up on the music scene as if there is gold to be found especially when the era of records, cassettes or CDs is over? This is because music is now reaching people through the Internet through the audiovisual industry, not through movies.
The definition of music production has changed. You don’t just compose music, you produce a music video and play it on one or more of the media available on the net like YouTube, Gaana, Spotify, Hungama, iTunes or others. When your music video catches up with internet users, you made it. While vinyl records were sold individually and earned the composer a silver or gold record, here he is counted on hits, i.e. the number of spectators he has marked. No trophies like silver or gold records, hits mean hard cash because these online music streaming platforms pay you by hits.
Looks like this latest phenomenon has become another branch of entertainment. Another industry run by prospect hunters. Yes, since some filmmakers are very active in these video productions, they involve popular movie stars to get maximum mileage. The actual image of a star does not matter on these clips, only their presence matters.
Take for example Filhaal, a music video with Akshay Kumar as a performer, released by Desi Music. The number of visits this video has gotten exceeds all estimates. It has 106 crores of views while the views from Filhaal2 Mohabbat are 43.5 crores! Now those are jaw-dropping numbers.
Jjust Music released a video with actor Tiger Shroff (at least he’s a great dancer) on the eve of Independence Day this year and has garnered 2.9 crore hits so far. T-series Kutti Mohabbat, with Emraan Hashmi, has 93 crore views to his credit. Unlike before and as you might expect, music videos aren’t the only realm for romantic songs or movie heroes, even anti-heroes like Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Baarish ki jaaye, Desi Music: 44 crore hits) and Sonu Sood (Remix of Saath kya nibhaoge, Desi Music: 3.5 crore), the videos attract a large number of viewers.
Music videos are not a new concept; they were made even earlier from the 1980s, but their scope was limited to the few TV channels that were emerging outside of the Doordarshan Channel. They were made from remixed versions of old movie hits or to promote the audio album of an artist like Falguni. There was no YouTube (the pioneer debuted in 2006) or other such online platforms at the time. Now they abound.
But the definition of music has changed. Now it must be audiovisual. The music industry as such is flourishing thanks to the Internet, but it is separate from film music. It has become a parallel source of entertainment. Unfortunately, these songs seem monotonous and lack catchy and cheerful numbers and, most importantly, are far from the melody.
These music videos are hot now and lasting value seems unlikely. So, that kind of boost in the music industry might just be a passing phase, at least, when it comes to waiting for millions and billions of hits. For that, it is enough to consult the hits as seen on different songs, classified in various compilations, of Carvaan de Saregama including old time hits. Hundreds of music tracks, all with hits in the millions and more.
(Vinod Mirani is a veteran screenwriter and box office analyst. The opinions expressed are personal)
mirani / am
2021-09-19-09: 06: 05