Interviews

"We are persuading all parties involved in the Music Industry to keep their promise of fair pay"-Rakesh Nigam, CEO (IPRS)

By Ojasvi Kapoor
February 08, 2023
"We are persuading all parties involved in the Music Industry to keep their promise of fair pay"-Rakesh Nigam, CEO (IPRS)

Rakesh Nigam  serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Indian Performing Right Society Ltd (IPRS). IPRS is the Society recognized u/s 33(3) of the Copyright Act 1957 for Musical Works & Literary Works performed along with the Musical Works by the Copyright Office, Government of India.

Nigam has played a pivotal role in guiding IPRS to successfully sign the licensing deals with major OTT platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Spotify, Hungama Music and Alt Balaji that pays royalties whenever music represented by the IPRS is used by them.These associations have created new revenue opportunities for IPRS members and helped them to get their songs/music compositions out to millions.

In a freewheeling Chat with Loudest.in,Nigam spoke about the Copyright Act and how IPRS helps musicians to earn their rightful dues.

The Amendment in the Copyright Act in 2012 has benefited music creators? Comment.

According to the Copyright Act of 1957, as amended in 2012, an author’s right to royalty is inalienable, which implies no one can deny royalties on the musical and literary works of lyricists, composers, and publishers. If a song or a piece of music gets played/performed publicly for commercial purposes, then the author, composer, and music publisher will have their fair right to royalty for such use. The most glaring benefit of this act is that the creator and the music owner's rights can no longer be overlooked, and they have to be given their due credit and royalties. This will thus help them gain more recognition and financial rewards for their creative works. IPRS as a music copyright society authorised by the Government of India and representing the authors, composers, and publishers of music is incessantly working to promote fair pay and fair play of music and help music users legally play music so that the rightful owners of music are fairly compensated. Royalty distribution crossed 200 crores (INR), in FY2021-22, and is expected to cross INR 300 crores this financial year, which can be a testament to our efforts in safeguarding the due rights of our members and building toward an equitable music ecosystem.

What is IPRS’s investment in tech for the registration of works, claims, and royalty distribution for the utilisation of music?

Today, music is created, distributed, and consumed digitally. Whatever is digital can be tracked, every usage, every stream. And this is the revolution. But tracking, matching, processing, and distributing billions of usages is incredibly complex and requires massive investments in IT and specialised human resources. Weak technology can directly affect the earnings of our members. 

Efficient systems and processes backed by robust technology are critical in adapting to the rapid changes in the digital era. Registration of millions of tracks, keeping a track of billions of usages, and ensuring zero error claiming and processing of royalty across various platforms and avenues is a humungous task. But with the help of world-class technology and accurate metadata, the process can be carried out within hours instead of days. For this, we need to be constantly developing and investing in the latest technology and infrastructure. The society’s scalable system allows it to process quadrillion lines of data and claim royalties for the growing consumption across multiple avenues. 

Continuing with our efforts to boost efficiency and transparency, we launched the Member Portal powered by Backoffice, where members can access personal information, and their works, request modifications and have visibility of their data and works. Using the prescribed digital-first approach, we have gone online with member registration, work submission, and music licensing, making it easy and stress-free.

How does IPRS help musicians earn their rightful dues?

Music is omnipresent. It is an integral part of our daily life with profound consumption all across. The law, states that only the music creator/owner, their legal heir, or a copyright society can collect a royalty for their work. However, owing to the wide use of music, it is practically impossible for an individual creator or the owner of the music, to track down the usage, licence every user, and collect royalties from every venue/platform for the commercial utilisation of the works. This is where the role of copyright societies like IPRS becomes crucial. As a CMO, it plays an important role as a bridge between the music creator (author and composer), publisher, and those using the copyrighted works. IPRS grants music licence basis the usage. Thus helping music users legally play music as per their business requirements and supporting the rightful owners as they get fairly compensated for the music played.

As a government-authorized copyright society representing the authors, composers, and music publishers, IPRS is authorised to grant licences and collect a royalty on behalf of its members for their works, thus protecting their economic interests as they continue to focus on creating magic through their music

We are persuading all parties involved in the music industry to keep their promise of fair pay. We are hopeful that these discussions will yield positive results. As a last resort, we will take legal action against those who still refuse to pay.  

We have increased our on-the-ground team to meet the growing demand. We have implemented a 360-degree strategy and are working to persuade all participants, including event organisers, retail giants, bars, restaurants, hotels, and any other public spaces that play music, as well as major broadcasters, radio stations, DSPs, and telecom operators, to obtain a licence for music usage. We also seek support and intervention from the government to ensure due enforcement of the law.

Tell us about IPRS’s royalty payouts and Membership growth over the years.

CISAC, the Paris-based International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), the apex body of 228 Authors' Societies in 119 countries released a report capturing a worldwide study. The CISAC Global Collections report ranked IPRS as fifth in terms of revenue in the Asia-Pacific region. IPRS set a new milestone by distributing royalties worth INR 210 crores in the fiscal ending March 2022, a 15% increase over the previous year. Owing to the rapid growth of streaming, there was also a reported 77.6% gain in income over two years. Society’s digital income increased by 301.9% between 2019-2022. We kept upgrading our IT infrastructure and distribution processes that depend on it. We managed to attenuate the impact of the pandemic, which affected our members’ earnings, and successfully distributed a total of INR 535 crores in royalties in the last three financial years. We also increased the frequency of royalty distribution from quarterly to monthly to financially support our members in these testing times. 

We are a growing copyright society of the members, by the members, and for the members. Our count of members standing at 8500 in FY 2021 is posed to cross the ten thousand mark, and we are constantly building awareness and engaging with the community of music creators from different genres of music across the country.

What steps have been taken by IPRS to enroll and engage with the community of music creators in India?

IPRS is a not-for-profit society, owned by its members, working to ensure they are fairly remunerated whenever their songs/music are utilised. This is the bottom line. Established in 1969, IPRS was built on the solid values of solidarity, resilience, equality, and transparency. This is our framework, and this model has also served us well during the pandemic. We have launched several initiatives, awareness drives, seminars, workshops, round-the-year training sessions, tutorials, grants, and aids, as well as programs like Credit The Creator – to acknowledge the creators of music publicly; music licensing drive Licence Liya Kya for Fair Pay and Fair Play of music; HerMusic, an initiative to encourage greater representation of women in music; multi-city Member Workshops Learn and Earn; CreativeShala, a platform to learn and engage with leading music-makers from the industry, and more. 

We have been very active in speaking to members and listening to them. IPRS has been their voice on various platforms and in multiple institutions. We also launched a ready-to-access and technologically advanced member portal where members can now easily spot discrepancies or conflicts and can be in complete control of their work. Several result-oriented training programs and tutorials to familiarize our members with the registration of their Works have also been designed during the period. Timely and accurate registration of Works ensures better claims and royalties.

What the Future Holds?

Rapid digitization has transformed the face of the music industry radically, especially since the pandemic. With over 1 million Indian and 10 million International works (songs) to represent our job is cut out. Speeding up our data processing with accuracy and most transparently for timely royalty disbursement calls for fortifying our digital business infrastructure and we are going flat out with advancements in Back-office Member Portal, robust data ingestion, matching, and claiming. Collaborating with industry partners to highlight critical issues facing the music industry is also on our lineup. Nurturing new talents in music composing and songwriting through talent scouting and throwing light upon managing rights as a music maker for a rewarding music career are also matters of immediate interest. 

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