Of the 100-110 films released in Bollywood every year, Zee Music Company has acquired rights for more than 55%-60% of the new music
India and its people love their songs as much as they love their masala movies. Adhering to this idea, Zee Music Company in the last five years have claimed to build a robust library of songs. More importantly, the company also claimed to have provided movie producers with songs from its own bank. In conversation with BrandWagon Online, Anurag Bedi, business head, Zee Music Company, talks about the strategy which has worked for the music label. (Edited excerpts)
Zee Music has continued to expand its library with Bollywood music and regional music. How has the aggressive acquisition strategy worked for the company?
In the case of Bollywood, of the 100-110 movies which are released in a year, Zee Music acquired the right for more than 55%-60% of the new music. We have followed this strategy for the last five years. Moreover, in regional markets such as Marathi, we have followed an acquisition rate of 90% as far as new releases are concerned. So the catalog has become sizable over the last five to six years. We are in the sixth year of our operations and following this strategy of building a sizable catalogue of music has now provided us with a very robust position.
Besides Bollywood, which are the other important regional markets where you have built your presence?
So as far as the South is concerned, we know that Tamil and Telugu are two big markets in terms of consumption. In the Marathi space, music is a significantly lucrative market for consumption. The Bhojpuri is a very big market for consumption. Even as we currently have a comparatively small presence in Malayalam and Kannada, we are building on that, besides Bengali.
What is the strategy you follow when it comes to acquiring music rights?
Acquisition is a slightly longer process. The process starts as early as sometime 12 months to 18 months before a film is being produced – right about the time a film is announced, probably when actors have just read their scripts and given their nods, and a rough poster has been designed is when a music label comes on board as a music partner. We are one of the few labels who get creatively involved in the music and that’s a significantly large competitive edge for us. We are one of the few labels to provide songs to films and producers. For instance, at least out of five songs, we provide two songs. This is primarily because in the last several years, we’ve built a bank of unreleased songs. As and when required, we use songs from the bank. For instance, O Tere Sang Yara from Rustom was pulled out from our bank and given to the producers. Similarly, with movies like Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana. Our creativity has played a vital role in the success of our music.
To what extent YouTube has helped in building the business?
With over 3 billion views in the quarter, YouTube has played a vital role in terms of amplifying the reach of music. It also works as a marketing tool as we are able to market our songs on YouTube in the form of advertising and display advertising. As for monetisation, YouTube is a critical source of monetisation for any label in this country and it continues to provide a significant revenue to the music industry.
How much has entry of digital platforms regularised revenue flow for music companies?
All usage is to be paid for. All apps have regularised the business and have helped in converting piracy into legitimate consumption. So, with the advent of streaming services, there’s been a significant decline on piracy. As far as revenue is concerned, the music industry’s solo revenue does come from the digital ecosystem, which is the streaming apps, YouTube and other apps like TikTok. The digital ecosystem contributes to about 50% – 70% of any label’s revenue.
What is the strategy in the Covid period considering a lot of movie releases have been stalled?
A lot of films are in the midst of planning an OTT release which means music will soon also start to get released. In the meantime, we have a bank of songs, which are unreleased songs. We are creating singles and non film music which we are asking artists to create from home. We’re able to kind of still keep the consumer happy with some amount of content. But we do see a lot of resuming of the film content in the next month or so where the OTT premiers will start.