A feature on the Indian music market with Times Music

A feature on the Indian music market with Times Music

The Indian music industry is second only to South Korea's in Asia when it comes to recorded music revenues but is little understood outside the country. To shed some light on its inner workings Rockol at MIDEM 2014 in Cannes spoke with Mandar Thakur, Chief Operating Officer at Times Music India. The company is the multimedia division of South Asia’s largest media conglomerate - the Times of India Group company - and is one of the largest independent labels in the country as well as a publisher. As part of the music publishing business Times Music is also the Indian representative for Warner Chappell.

When asked about the core business of Times Music, Mandar replies: "We are effectively a content company that does both IP management and digital licensing."

The first question revolves around the models for the recorded music in India and how they differ from the rest of the world. For Mandar: “The models are similar but the structure of the industry is different” […] “In terms of business models you have CD sales, downloads and streaming. But when you look at the South Asian market you’ll realise that those countries are about the song and not about the artist because of the large in-built film culture and 100-year-old musical heritage. Movies and music are one and the same and most of the music that is produced is “work for hire” as part of the movie-making process."

The country’s copyright owners finally came together last year and worked with the government to improve the copyright structure, Mandar says: "When it comes to copyright last year we got a brand new copyright law which finally legally recognised mechanicals, there’s a fully functional performance collection society that will soon administer mechanicals and there’s essentially a whole structure around IP being put into place now."

As for the size and distribution of music revenues in India Mandar states: "The recorded music business in India is probably a $260m business and local repertoire rules. 75% of revenues go to Bollywood film repertoire, and the rest to non-film. Only 5% of music consumption is international repertoire, for mobile music consumption that drops to 1.5%. When it comes to iTunes though - since that’s used by a different demographic - it’s a different picture with around 26% of consumption being International music. Digital income is 70 to 75% for most record labels, though this includes mobile income."

Another key question on the Indian music market is around marketing of releases both within and outside the movie system, Mandar states: "There are two aspects to marketing, both traditional. India is a large television business. When it comes to Bollywood movies the clips of the film come out on television and radio before release and this gives them a large boost when it comes to publicity. The second part is a lot of press with a layer of YouTube as well, but we know not everyone can be big on YouTube."

Streaming services are becoming an important part of the picture, though a large portion of the population still has no access to them: "The number one streaming service is Gaana.com, the second one is called Saavn then there are other services like the Nokia Ovi store and other Indian businesses that work with other aggregators like Raga.com. YouTube is also huge in India and growing in leaps and bounds. This year you’ll have the entry of the global streaming services coming into India and this will kick-start a war in the field.”

(Andrea Leonelli)