Rival Music Majors In Common Portal Chorus

Kolkata, September 26: | Updated: Sep 27 2002, 05:30am hrs
Indian music companies are mulling a one-stop shop on the Internet. It will host their combined repertoire for buyers who wish to download their tracks for a price. While the piracy-hit companies will get a new revenue stream, music lovers stuck with the conventional CD and cassette formats will be free to pay for just the tracks they want.

The Indian Music Industry (IMI), the non-commercial and non-profit umbrella organisation of the industry, has roped in all the major players in the Rs 1,350-crore industry.

Officials of Saregama India Ltd, Universal Music India Ltd and BMG Crescendo, among others, confirmed that they are in talks with the IMIs executive committee. Some of them have already made presentations of their ideas. The time frame: six months to one year.

According to Abhik Mitra, managing director of Saregama India Ltd, a common portal for all Indian music is one way to tackle the rampant piracy that is eating away profits.

We are looking for a legitimate portal with download and video streaming facilities. The best option will be to have one music portal for the Indian repertoire... This will be a better option than the western model in which companies have their own sites. Unless we have one portal which will house music from all the major companies, it will not be popular, he said.

According to Mr Suresh Thomas, managing director of BMG Crescendo (I) Ltd and an executive committee member of IMI, there are many things to be put in place before a portal can be set up and customers can start downloading.

Said Mr Thomas: It will take some time to arrive at a common legal understanding and agreement....Also, there are technology issues like choosing the right software, addressing the security issues and implementation of proper payment mode.

We are still in the thought mode though all the companies have shown interest in having a single music portal rather than going for individual sites. It makes business sense for all of us, he said.

Going by the foreign experience, many feel that it will be too early to say that availability of music on the net will solve problems like piracy.

Mr VJ Lazarus, managing director of Universal Music India Ltd and president of the IMI, pointed out that the internet business is limited worldwide.

Though it is cheaper to buy a track rather than a whole CD, worldwide the business is still limited. One of the reasons may be that many consumers are not computer savvy and also the technology may not be computer friendly, he said.

Mr Lazarus said people still want to go to a music shop where they can browse the CDs or cassettes and pick one, rather than download from the portal. On the other side, technology has created various possibilities and we have to explore and make it commercially viable, he said.

Medium and regional music players are happy with the development. Many feel that in the age of convergence where bandwidth price is going downward, the future lies in the availability of all kind of tracks from one portal.

Said Mr Anupam Gan, general manager for sales & marketing at Sagarika Acoustronics Pvt Ltd, We will participate in the IMI initiative. We believe that the business from the Net will grow. May not be in the next one year but certainly in the next five years. The way the technology is moving forward, a time will come when Net will be one of the routes to push tracks.