Rakesh Nigam: Embrace Fair Pay and Fair Play of Music

In the last two years, the Indian Performing Right Society Ltd (IPRS) distributed over Rs 325 crores in royalties to members and sister societies, along with deploying Rs 6 crores in emergency relief funds. They also ranked as the sixth-largest society by revenues in the Asia-Pacific region, out of 11 Societies. Globally, the IPRS ranked 32nd in 2020 with collections of €20m compared to their 47th position in 2018 with collections of just €5.6m.

Rakesh Nigam, CEO, IPRS

Though revenues from Public Performance and Television declined drastically, significant growth in digital revenues helped arrest the fall in earnings for the IPRS. Now in an exclusive chat with Music Plus, the IPRS’ CEO, Rakesh Nigam says they anticipate to grow by around 50% in overall revenues touching Rs.250 crores in the current financial year. Till December 2021, they distributed royalties of Rs.120 crores and hope to pay a total of Rs.200 crores by March 2022. Excerpts from an interview forecasting the year ahead for the organisation.  

How did the IPRS move up 14 spots on the global rankings for music rights collections during the pandemic?

While being confined, we found unconventional and untried mediums to resume work. We, at IPRS, took it as a challenge to wade through the unprecedented crisis and help our members as much as we could.  We took this period of stagnation as an opportunity to understand our members and work processes better and came up with initiatives to add value and benefit all.

We doubled down on our efforts to ensure that IPRS could collect royalties, that our members were entitled to, including royalties from abroad. Among other things, we signed new agreements with major clients, expanding the IPRS licensing footprint. Due to which the society was able to increase its income even in these times of adversity. 

Why is copyright infringement such a huge concern right now?

The music and entertainment business has shifted from the physical to the digital world within a short period. Music creators are reaching out to audiences across various digital avenues that has subsequently raised the challenge of copyright infringement and piracy.

The consumption of content on the digital platforms increased manifolds, and along with it, the fear increased of content being consumed illegally without any remuneration to the creators or the copyright holders. The digital space has introduced the creator community to challenges of infringement that are unique and very different from the physical world.

Could you tell us a little bit about the immediate challenges faced by the Indian music industry?  Would you have recommendations on how we can overcome this?

A majority of music users in India feel that the music industry means a company and the license fees paid for commercial use of music will benefit corporate interests only. What they don’t realise is that there are thousands of creators (lyricists/authors and music composers), big and small, that depend on copyright law for their sustenance.

Hence Copyright Societies like IPRS help critically to serve the authors and composers of music with a source of regular income, even when they are not creating or have limited sources of income. The royalty they receive becomes a kind of pension and a crucial source of sustenance for them.

So, if users don’t abide by licensing norms and pay for the music, apart from the loss to the national exchequer, tax evasion, etc., the creators of the music we love are at a greater loss. It is only fair that the creators are compensated and that is what IPRS is there to ensure.

We all love Music. It’s time we express it through our actions. The year 2022 should be the year of new beginnings in the Music Industry. Embrace and spread awareness about Fair Pay and Fair Play of Music. If we claim to be the biggest fan of our favourite songwriter and music creator, it’s time we support his/her creation by paying for music, and encouraging paid consumption of music. Drive change for a better tomorrow. Credit the Creator. Respect Copyright. Encourage Creativity.

What’s the goal for this coming year?

There is an increasing need for an organisation such as the IPRS to address the devaluation and deprivation of intellectual properties while upholding the rights of music creators and publishers.

We will continue to focus on technological advancement in tune with the changing music landscape, keep expanding our licensing footprint, create value through member outreach programs, accelerate the distribution of copyright royalties, and support members in distress through grants and aids.

We aim to make IPRS the most efficient and transparent Copyright Society in Asia. During this Covid disaster, IPRS’s role made it clear like never before, that royalties are the salary and pension of authors and composers.

The IPRS has emerged as a critical institution of the music industry and we are positive that we will exceed Rs 250 crores in collections. We will keep investing in our efforts to modernise our digital infrastructure, befitting the changing needs. Create new revenue opportunities for our members and build more awareness about the significance of copyright societies like IPRS so that both the creators and users of music benefit from our activities and initiatives.

Visit the IPRS here

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