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Small Music Labels Facing Existential Threat With Social Distancing And Lockdown: Indian Music Industry

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The Indian Music Industry (IMI) is the apex body that represents the interest of the music companies on a pan-India basis. The members of the Indian Music Industry (IMI) whose existence is dependent entirely on the releases of feature films, public performance revenues from events and concerts amongst others have started to suffer on account of drastically reduced cash flows as film releases have been stalled and public performance revenues have dried due to cancelled music events and F&B outlets being shut.

IMI members follow a business model where they pay minimum guarantees (MGs) to film producers who demand substantial money upfront, well in advance for film music acquisitions. The music industry’s money is locked into film releases which may now be indefinitely postponed with no signs of predictable recovery. Around 80% of revenues come from film music for the recorded music industry.

Another fallout is the large numbers of artists, technicians, sessions musicians being rendered unemployed with the closure of film production, live events, F&B sector.  Speaking to the press about these developments, Vikram Mehra, Chairman, IMI said, “We are looking at a financially unstable situation in the near to medium term. Recordings are being cancelled and postponed that means many daily wage musicians supporting their families will face a hard time and record labels will not be able to recoup their investments, either paid as MGs to film producers or investments in independent music called IPop.”

According to Tarsame Mittal of TM Talent Management, “The events industry is hit hard due to concerts getting cancelled and many artists, support staff who depend on their concerts for livelihood, especially the smaller stature artists and new artists are the worst hit.”

There are a lot of revenue streams that are drying up and causing an upheaval in the music industry. Event cancellations are hitting smaller labels who need this revenue to survive.

Blaise Fernandes, CEO and President of IMI, said in the statement released to press, “The COAI asking OTT Service Providers to lower the quality of feeds, that’s an indicator that the OTT services are doing well. This will translate into revenues for copyright holders in the industry going forward. This is a tough time, especially for daily wage music bands who perform music at weddings and other social events.”

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