Film producer Vashu Bhagnani is ready to write the obituary of CDs.Industry thinks it is too early
LONG-PLAYING vinyl records came,went and are making a comeback.Cassettes have been cast into the dustbins of history.It is now the turn of the compact disc to fade into oblivion,says Bollywood film producer Vashu Bhagnani,whose credits include Hero No 1,Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai,among other movies.
Bhagnani has released the soundtrack of his latest film F.A.L.TU.starring son Jackky Bhagnani,Arshad Warsi and Riteish Deshmukh in the digital format last month,a first in Bollywood.Users can download tracks from the films website at 10 a song and 40 for the album.It is time to say goodbye to CDs, says Bhagnani,adding that he is bringing music to homes,giving customers the original sound and helping a industry buckled down by piracy with a completely legal step.
Bhagnani may be a digital music pioneer in Bollywood,but is hardly the first mover in India.The first time an Indian film was taken to the digital platform in 2007 when Farhan Akhtars Don was released on iTunes and many films after that have followed suit.Numerous Indian music bands chose the digital medium way before Bhagnani,to get to their target audience.Bands,for quite sometime,have chosen to host their music on their website or other mediums like Artistallow.com,a music distribution website started by Hungama Digital Medium Entertainment.Globally,music labels and artists are increasingly ditching CDs to embrace the digital medium,particularly the Apple online store and Amazon.Established and underground artists rely on their fan base for sales in the digital format.British alternative rock band Radiohead released their last two albums digitally to huge success.
In India,sales of CDs make up for nearly a third of the 800-crore Indian music industry pie.Digital music medium accounts for about 400 crore,of which mobile VAS constitutes a threefourth.But the high incidence of piracynearly 90% of the downloads are illegalin the digital format is the biggest worry for the music industry in India.
Therefore,veterans of the music industry say it is too early to write off CDs.Apurv Nagpal,managing director of Saregama (the erstwhile HMV),believes the choice to do away with music in the physical form is based purely on the perception of your strength in your music.Even Radiohead didnt ignore the physical format.In Saregamas case,CD sales account for almost 40-50 percent of total sales.Music labels,through CDs,strengthen other verticals because a presence in the music stores gives the labels shelf space and ample mindshare.The market is still quite strong and digital is not yet in a position to replace the physical format.There will always be a physical format;quite similar to the age-old debate between online and print news, says Nagpal.Even the leader of digital music in India differs with Bhagnanis assessment.Neeraj Roy,managing director and chief executive officer of Hungama,says the market is not evolved for a complete transformation into purely digital sales of music.His Hungama.com was the countrys first fully licensed music download site.Cinema reaches different markets and this warrants music to be available in various formats, says Roy,adding that physical music sales have been flat for sometime but they continue to help the industry.
Industry experts agree with Bhagnanis assertion though.
Initially,it was predicted that the physical formats would experience a slow decline but the decline has been unexpectedly rapid, says Jehil Thakkar,KPMG India head for the media and entertainment practice.He believes that the digital medium is much more cost-effective,easier to manage when it comes to music rights,provides a larger area for distribution and facilitates several partners like mobile,VAS,applications and online music stores.
Still,the latest move by Bhagnani,known for the lavish marketing events for his films,is being seen as another one of his strategies to create a buzz around his sons re-launch.Will Yashraj films do the same The day that happens,the trend would be there for sure, says an industry insider on condition of anonymity.
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