Interview of the Week – Kumar Taurani, Chairman and Managing Director, Tips Music and Tips Industries Ltd.

Tips Music is one of the biggest music labels of the country and in the current trend of recreations, a lot of songs that are recreated belong to their catalogue. 2020 began with the recreation of the title track for the film Bhangra Paa Le which was originally composed for the film Karan Arjun and picturised on Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan. The upcoming one has created a stir in the industry being everyone’s favourite track of the 90’s, Ole Ole in Jawaani Jaaneman was originally picturised on Saif Ali Khan in Yeh Dillagi.

Tips Music is not just about film music, the catalogue also includes regional, devotional, Indian classical and other genres as well.

To know how Tips Music is utilising its catalogue, reinventing itself to suit the current market and its future plans, we spoke to Kumar Taurani, Chairman and Managing Director of Tips Industries Ltd. in our Interview of the Week.

Tips has a huge catalogue from the 90s. How are you utilising it?

The songs are available across streaming platforms. We are licensing to TV shows and other platforms to use them.
For the new generation you have to recreate the sound and we are doing that. Our recent recreations are very successful. Only if the song is recreated well, will it work.

We have created a channel called ‘Volume’, a platform for all the aspiring artists and  singers. This channel provides individuals an opportunity to present their talent to the global audience.  They don’t need to violate any copyrights. If our A and R team unearths a talent, we will record their songs and produce it under our label which we are already doing.

My job is to produce music not sell it. Earlier there were record stores and now there are streaming platforms. The stores that were on the streets are now on the internet. The volume of sale is also higher plus the troublesome production and distribution process is done away with. In terms of embracing technology and advancing in business we have always been quick to adapt and have a strong clear music and business acumen.
Platforms with the most amount of content will work in the long run; this is the only successful business model.

How is Tips Music looking at the non-film market?

We are heavily investing in the non-film segment being fully aware that the Return on Investment (ROI) will take years. Today, an artist from any part of the country can record a song in a small studio and upload it on various platforms. Fortunately, we have a huge unexplored catalogue in every language. We are creating new content as well as re-mastering and making music videos of old content. Once this content is up in the next 2-3 years then we will know the ROI. We are ready to stretch it out over the years and develop at least 15 platforms for different languages which contain quality content.

Earlier any OTT platform would approach labels thinking that Section 31D of Copyright Act 2012 was a loophole which they could take advantage of. The law is applicable to radio and TV only. While Wynk Music was negotiating with Tips Music, they had requested us to use our content. And if the negotiations hit a roadblock, they would withdraw the content in the next seven days.

But the negotiations were long stretched and Wynk Music kept on prolonging it using various tactics. That prompted us to send them a notice to withdraw our content. Their lawyer misguided them into using Section 31D as a shield in the said case and they applied for a Statutory Licence. After consulting with my lawyer, we decided on fighting the
case. The judge unanimously ruled in our favour and gave them a month’s notice to find remedy to the issue. They later filed for a stay with a double bench. The verdict should be out soon.

The Copyright Act 2012 is somewhat unfair. If Section 31D is done away with the labels and artists will be severely affected. It will be the last nail in the coffin.

There is a common consensus that labels exploit artists. How would you respond to that?

At Tips Music when we sign a singer, we ensure we hold all rights to the song. We don’t want to get into the hassle of royalty over every song. We spend on the production, distribution and promotion. The Return on Investment on a song may take a decade. Why should a label pay royalty to the singer from day 1, when the investment is not recovered?
They are earning handsomely by performing at live shows. Do they share their income with us that they want a share of our pie? We enter into a perpetual agreement with the singers and are ok with paying a higher amount. 99% of agreements in the industry are perpetual.

This model cannot change. The labels don’t get an exact account of royalty payments from the streaming platforms, how can we pass on the royalties to the singers fairly? Suppose if I had an agreement with a royalty clause in it, singers would feel I am cheating them.

The artists have a right to ask for royalties. I don’t dispute that. If a reigning superstar wants to strike a deal with me which involves paying him royalty and the deal is profitable, I will surely do it. I am a businessman after all. A big artist doesn’t need a label anymore. They can sign with the streaming platforms, start their label or even launch their app. It is a free market now. So, we prefer paying upfront. Whatever we earn we reinvest in the industry.

The future is short term licensing stretching for a 2-3 year period.

You are coming up with a series of Indian classical music albums directed towards mental health healing. Tell us more about it.

We have a big repertoire of Indian classical music and it can help people to de-stress and aid in mental well-being. Our team is carefully curating a series with the help of a team of doctors. In the next year or so we aim to release around 25 compilations utilising our old catalogue as well as producing new content. Tips Music recently recorded around 35 new songs with the legendary Pandit Jasraj.

We have so far released compilations as Mindful Music- Morning Bliss with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Vilayat Khan and Pt. Pannalal Ghosh. Our Mindful Evening Peace Music is with legendary artists Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

We are currently launching Mindful Chants which will have Pt. Jasraj and shortly, Destress with Tabla with Ustad Zakir Hussain. We are looking to invest in this segment and taking the beautiful music and message of Music for Mental Health to the world. We want the world to know the importance and the great heritage of Indian Music.

What does the future hold for Tips Industries Ltd?

Tips Industries Ltd is looking to invest more into producing some great content for feature films and for the OTT space while continuing to invest in music. OTT is the future and will reign over other platforms. It should be a 25,000 crore rupees market in the next ten years. I can’t say the same about the non-film music market. This segment is looked at only when the film music segment is not doing well. Once we get the era of multiple hit songs in a single movie, non-film music will suffer. We are open to acquiring any label which is willing to sell.

Text by Hardik Joshi

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