What T-Series joining Indian Performers Rights Society means for the parties and the music industry

What T-Series joining Indian Performers Rights Society means for the parties and the music industry

What T-Series joining Indian Performers Rights Society means for the parties and the music industry

Indian music behemoth T-Series is the last of the major music companies in India to join the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS), making it a watershed moment for the music industry in the country. After years of resistance to IPRS’ various efforts to bring it onboard as a member, T-Series’ joining of the 5,000-member organisation is widely looked at as a game-changer in the way the industry functions.

How the IPRS stands to gain

T-Series has 70 to 80 percent market share (revenue upwards of $100 million), and as a record label, remains the largest in the country. Its enviable library has over 2 lakh songs (including over 50,000 music videos) across 15 Indian languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Bhojpuri, and Gujarati among others. This roster contains over 15,000 hours of music, and includes the rights to musical compositions and lyrics that form part of their music across all platforms. 

With their new deal with T-Series, IPRS’ cause gets a major boost in its efforts to streamline the process of doing business in the music industry and give music publishing the spotlight that it needs to accurately acknowledge all stakeholders in the creation of a song. Over the years, IPRS has been roping in music publishers, lyricists (authors), and composers as members, with other industry majors like Saregama, Universal Music, Sony Music, and Times Music among others others already being a part of it.

T-Series’ membership into the IPRS gives the country’s only registered copyright society for authors, music composers, and music publishers, a trump card to convert fence-sitters into confirmed members of the organisation. With chairman Javed Akhtar’s vision and CEO Rakesh Nigam’s drive to bring as many beneficiaries into the fold, the IPRS was in 2019 credited by the CISAC as being the fastest growing copyright society in the world. This international confederation of societies of authors and composers represents 239 member societies in 122 countries/territories. 

Apart from working as a tool to drive in more members, it also to some extent works as a show of strength to the IPRS’ tireless commitment to ensuring that its members receive the royalty due to each one of them. 

IPRS’ digital potential and T-Series?

For a company that has been resisting the membership of the IPRS, what would have changed now that caused it to change its mind? In an interview with Musicplus.in, Akhtar suggested why T-Series may have finally joined the IPRS. “T-Series is a very big organisation and they also had their internal system of collecting royalties. They were not sure if they will receive the right amount in royalties, and whether IPRS was capable and transparent enough for it. Whenever a new law is made or one is asked to change the way they function, the first reaction is always resistance. One does not like to venture into uncharted territories. T-Series realised that IPRS has developed a great system of royalty collection and distribution. They realised over a period of time that it is in their advantage to join our ranks,” he said. 

T-Series, in the last two years, has also seen exponential growth in its digital presence. The music company’s flagship YouTube channel is the most widely subscribed to and viewed in the world, with over 170 million subscribers and 135 billion lifetime views respectively. The COVID-19-triggered lockdown slowed down live performances by artists but considerably increased online streaming revenues for the company. At the same time, IPRS has been looking at ways to ensure that authors and composers are given their dues particularly during online performances.

IPRS joins hands with T-Series

IPRS collected Rs 45 crore in royalties in FY2017-18, Rs 166 crore in FY2018-19, and Rs 170 crore in FY19-20. In a recently released FICC-EY report, it was noted that the average monthly stream count was over 10 billion in the first half of 2020, which rose to 11 billion streams per month during the lockdown. Digital growth is now a significant part of the industry’s present and future. In this regard, T-Series’ worldwide reach and IPRS’ drive to ensure that the money reaches all constituent creators make for a heady partnership. 

IPRS also functions as a crucial ally in the fight for separate royalty rates payable by radio broadcasting stations across India in terms of sound recordings as well as literary works and musical works. T-Series threw its weight behind the copyright board’s fight for more competitive rates than the existing 2 percent fixed royalty rate of net advertising revenues. Simultaneously, in a landmark decision, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) upheld the rights of the Indian Performing Right Society Limited and its lyricist, music composer, and music publisher members to claim royalties in respect of the broadcast of lyrics and music underlying sound recordings by FM radio stations in the country. This win also positions IPRS as a venerable organisation, and aligning with it only makes business sense.

The industry’s benefit

The deal between IPRS and T-Series is momentous because licensing music can now have a single-window clearance process, wherein those seeking rights to use music in a recording or a video or a commercial need to look no further than the IPRS. Today, the licensees for music are more than just television commercials and radio channels. They include telecom companies, short-format video apps, broadcasters, online services, video games and many more big and small businesses that constantly are in need of music to further their brand. By making IPRS the access points to the works of these stakeholders, the music industry stands to reorganise itself and redefine the importance of the creator.

A recent report mentions that growth in audio streaming makes a strong case in favour of IPRS that charges music streaming platforms 12 percent of advertising revenue or a per-stream rate, whichever is higher. The IPRS has clarified that the price per stream will not be valued at less than 10 paise. This means that for a premium or subscription-based service, 12 percent of the end-user price has to be paid in terms of royalties.

Growth of the music industry would only be possible if the major players are onboard such initiatives.

While Yash Raj Films remains unaffiliated with the IPRS, T-Series’ joining can only serve to inspire several other authors and creators to align with the organisation.

While the deal stands to benefit creators associated with T-Series, specifically and the music industry in general, for us consumers, not much has changed as long as our access to music remains. But for a paying subscriber in India, this only reminds us how paying to use such services can create revenue for every contributor in the creative process.