The music and radio industries have never been the best of buddies anywhere in the world, especially in India. In a fiery piece published on the online news portal – Radio & Music – Achille Forler, the Managing Director of Universal Music Publishing slams the radio industry for being “parasites” and living off the music industry. Forler, has every reason to be infuriated with the radio industry, especially since the radio industry has been comprehensively thrashing the music industry in legal battles across the country.
There are two main legal issues at play today between the radio and music industry:
The first is the issue of royalties paid by the radio industry to the music industry. In 2010, after more than a decade of litigation the Copyright Board had fixed the royalty rate at 2% against the 20% demanded by the music industry. That decision which is yet to be over-ruled was seen as a huge defeat for the music industry. We had blogged on some of those issues over here.
The second legal battle, which is pending before the Supreme Court, is whether the radio industry has to pay royalties for only the sound recordings or also the music and lyrics. Up until last year, the radio and hospitality industry were paying royalties for all three classes of works, when three different High Courts held otherwise. We had blogged about one of those cases over here.
A particularly interesting statistic that is revealed by Forler, is the fact that FM radio broadcasts hardly 0.5% of the entire repertoire of music that is licensed to them. Forler questions the radio industry on why it concentrates only on the 0.5% super-hit songs instead of promoting new artists and music. As per this argument radio stations which invoke compulsory licensing on the grounds of ‘public interest’ should be promoting all kinds of music and not just super-hit songs.