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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Indian Music Sites Wake Up To Reality

We are living in an age where a new site offering download of Indian film songs crops almost up everyday. The temptation is so huge that most of us succumb to it. The music industry has been on a consistent decline because of the growth of piracy. Piracy existed even when cassettes were popular, but the rapid changes in technology have led to rampant piracy. Back in the 90s, lot of producers used to recover their entire movie costs through the sale of audio rights. Most of the early ARR movies fetched audio revenue in excess of the movie’s budget. Those were the days when (Tamil) audio CDs were priced between Rs. 350 & 400. Most of the Tamil audio CDs are now available under Rs. 100. My understanding is that the audio sales (in value terms) have reached an all time low as a result of lesser retail sales volume, fall in the retail price of CDs / cassettes and the widespread piracy. 24 hour FM channels and music channels (on TV) have resulted in the fall in demand for music albums.

Galatta.com and Raaga.com, two leading film-related sites have started offering legal download of Tamil film songs. Galatta.com plans to offer legal downloads in other South Indian languages as well.

According to Mr. Ramdas, music from Galatta.com is placed between the record labels and free downloads. Albums are priced between Rs.35 and Rs.100 an album, but the advantage of downloading instead of buying the CD "is that you can buy a single song to download, priced between Rs.12 and Rs.15 a song. The songs are available in MP3 and Real Player format."

The sites need some finetuning to do. Raaga has differential pricing for downloads from India and the rest of the world. Indian customers pay Rs. 12 per song whereas the rest will pay $0.99 per song. It is better if they fix a uniform global price as the entire web operates on such a phenomenon. This is how other music download sites and VoIP services operate. They don’t differentiate between people living in different countries. Further Raaga’s FAQ says that the songs can’t be transferred to popular personal music devices like iPODs. Raaga’s downloads can only be transferred to other players like Creative. One of the main reasons why people download music is to transfer it to their personal music device (mobile phone / MP3 player). If Raaga is going to promote only download to desktops, listeners would be better off streaming from Raaga's site rather than paying for a file which is going to lie in the desktop.

If these sites fine tune their strategy and offer superior quality audio, they might find favour with the audience. Till then, the Lankasris and Mohankumars of the world will continue to remain in the limelight.

Filbert has a related post here.


  • It is better if they fix a uniform global price as the entire web operates on such a phenomenon... They don’t differentiate between people living in different countries.

    Actually, they do. Itunes, without question the most successful digital music store, prices songs differently in different countries.

    Skype charges differently for different countries for its SkypeOut service.

    The point is, there are external factors which affect the pricing. If the music labels decide to charge Raaga differently for different regions, there's not much the latter can do about it.

    By Anonymous antrix, at 11:50 PM  

  • @Deepak,
    I haven't used iTunes, so wasn't aware of this. However SkypeOut charges are based on the destination and not based on the country from which the call is made. Using that logic, the user's country should not matter for such download sites. Otherwise I could use a friend to download the song in India and mail it over to me.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 11:53 PM  

  • I think, basis of differential pricing is based on actual costs. An audio CD costs you around 100-150 bucks in India, and in US it may be $10-12.

    By Blogger Shashikant, at 12:41 AM  

  • A bad precedent. Many personnel (actors and others) in the film industry are over paid, and the public is exploited by huge ticket prices in the metros. Very often prices are hiked to Rs.200-300 for a popular movie, which is unfair in our country where many other industries and retail prices are regulated. As long as actors get away with crores of rupees for pathetic acting, and large amount of production money is wasted on excesses committed by actors and crew on overseas trips, the public should be able to download movies and songs for free to offset the unfair ticket prices. If producers want piracy to end, let them cut these avaricious artistes to size. They have to be as accountable to the public about the expense and cost of making movies, as companies are to its shareholders.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:28 AM  

  • exactly like antrix first thing that came to mind.. itunes does differ rpicing... 99c in US, 99hwatever in england...
    well u cna always use a proxy to download it through a diff place.. i wonder if these are DRM encoded.. i mean mp3 that i cna burn wherever i want to, or does it have restricitons like how many ipods/computers that i can put it into...?
    maybe we should do a comprehensive analysis of it... lets see.. maybe over the weekend if i find somehting i will post it...

    By Blogger Villain, at 2:18 AM  

  • anonymous - your argument is flawed. the artistes command a following hence their high fees. they have a market for their performance. just because cocaine costs a lot does it mean that you grow it in your backyard ?

    By Anonymous Anand S, at 5:56 AM  

  • Do u recommend Lankasri openly? Does that mean you promote their site which illegally uploads new movies online ?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:49 AM  

  • Well..my two bits:

    Most of the 'music' nowadays is simply not worth buying! Even if it were not pirated, I doubt how much sales would actually improve.

    Cant comment on Tamil music specifically, since I have no idea about it. My observation is based on Hindi music.

    By Blogger IndianArchie, at 3:28 PM  

  • There is a total misconception here.

    Music from Raaga IS TRANSFERABLE TO CD and other mobie devices. Its just that Apple's iPod does not allow Windows DRM and only works with its own FairPlay. For that matter iPod cannot be used with any other DRM store including Yahoo, MSN, Naster, Real, etc

    Tracks from Raaga CAN be transferred and burnt to a CD.

    Galatta does not even have downloads yet! They started their marketing stint without having a DRM platform even. hehehe...

    Raaga is the ONLY site that offers LEGAL MUSIC DOWNLOADS!

    By Blogger tasha, at 2:39 AM  

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