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The T-SERIES Story

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A MURDER

MUSIC PIRACY

T-SERIES & MUSIC PIRACY

continued from previous page 3

GULSHAN - PIRATE OR MESSIAH?

Indian film music lovers have always regarded the decades prior to the 1980s as the 'golden era' of Hindi film music. During the 1980s, there was blatant and sub-standard copying of international music. In the late 1980s, videocassettes became extremely popular among India's upper class and upper middle-class families. As these people began watching the latest films in their homes, video piracy became rampant.
 

Now it were the lower classes that could not afford to buy color television sets and video players or recorders, that went to the theatres. Hence, films were made to cater to their tastes. These films were invariably medicore and the music was of very low quality.T-Series was given credit for bringing the music industry out of this decline. Many critics praised Gulshan's unerring instinct in picking up saleable music. Some of the films for which Gulshan procured the music rights in the early 1980s went on to become huge successes. Almost all these movies featured melodious music, bringing back the sounds of the pre-1980s era.

Gulshan's supporters held that till he came along, GCI and MIL had been virtually looting the consumer by charging absurdly high prices for music cassettes. Gulshan had done the customers a great service by making cheaper cassettes, and retailing them through small shops all over the country, thus making cassettes affordable and easily available even to the common man.

T-Series even took back unsold cassettes (to re-use the shells as well as tapes) so that these small retailers would not suffer losses. Gulshan was also lauded for promoting fresh talent8 through the cover versions. (Interestingly enough, after Gulshan's death, the prices of audiocassettes increased in the late 1990s.)

Noted media personality Pritish Nandy said, "He may have made some money through cover versions and piracy. But what is more important is that he benefited listeners, expanded the market and created a galaxy of new stars. He broke, in that sense, the existing monopolies and drove hard and fiercely a sloth, decadent, exploitative market to make it boom. But, like all swashbuckling pioneers, Gulshan Kumar got a bad name for doing it first."

The fact remains that while the music pirates made huge profits for themselves, they inadvertently ended up benefiting the music industry as well. Since their entry in the 1970s, the industry had more than quadrupled in size. Not surprising therefore, that some say the Indian music industry 'owes its growth to the pirates.'

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:

1. Why do you think Super Cassettes became so successful in the early 1980s? Do you agree that the inaction of the then market leaders contributed to the growth of music piracy?

2. Though piracy and cover versions were ethically and/or legally unacceptable,they aided the growth of the music industry and promoted fresh talent.Critically evaluate this statement, with particular reference to the T-Series story.

3. Analyze the problems being faced by the Indian music industry. As the manager of a music company in the organized sector, what strategies can you adopt to curb piracy?

ADDITIONAL READINGS & REFERENCES

1.Satish M M, I made raids newsworthy, TV & Video World, May 1996.
2.Rush Susan, The War Against Piracy, www.tapediscbusiness.com,October 1996.
3.Gulshan!, www.rediff.com, July 12, 1997.
4.'Piracy?... Ji, hamare business mein to yeh sab chalta hain,'www.rediff.com, July 12,1997.
5. Pall descends over Super Cassette, Business Standard, August 13,1997.
6.Life in the twilight zone, www.rediff.com, September 2, 1997.
7.Gulshan Kumar:Analysis, www.studio-systems.com, September 1997.
8.Gulshan Kumar just couldn't help himself. He had to steal,'www.rediff.com, September 2, 1997.
9.Schalit Joel & Sterne Jonathan, Sample My Privates,www.eserver.org, December 1998.
10. Joshi Pankaj, New melodies, but still tuneful, The Financial Express,December 13, 1999.
11. Lall M Chander, INDIA spruces up its IP regime and enforcement,www.indiaip.com,1999.
12. Nandy Pritish, Is Taurani guilty? www.rediff.com, September 14, 2000.
13. Indian film music has worldwide market but... www.screeindia.com, May 18, 2001.
14. Krishna Sanjay, Music piracy in India - Music companies to blame,www.boloji.com,June 21, 2001.
15. www.dotexplaza.com, July 31, 2001.
16. Vijaykar Rajeev, The Eighties - The Good, The Bad And The Ugly,www.indiatimes.com.
17. www.t-series.com
18. www.screenindia.com
19. www.indianmi.org
20. www.indiainfoline.com

[8] Analysts claim that the real reason for bringing in fresh talent was the fact that they were cheaper and
easier to access. The Hindi film music industry was considered to be a monopoly of a few singers, notably the Mangeshkar sisters, Lata and Asha. Gulshan reportedly brought in new singers in order to break this monopoly.


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