From writers, creators and performers to music companies, The Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS), which collects royalties for artistes each time their music is played, has notched up its member count significantly in the last three years.
Making the member community stronger, IPRS, the only registered Indian copyright society has now got on board one India’s biggest music companies, T-Series.
The music company’s library has 200,000 titles, including more than 50,000 music videos, and 15,000 hours of music across 15 Indian languages.
This is why IPRS Chairman, Javed Akhtar said that T-Series joining the society will be a big boost for both IPRS and the music industry.
"It is a win-win situation because in the last few years most of the music has come in the market through T-Series. So, when they join us our power increases by a big leap. At the same time, they have also realized that in the last two-three years music members have actively come on the governing board of IPRS and have restarted organizing things and that everything is transparent," Akhtar told Moneycontrol.
But it took time for T-Series to come on board. Akhtar said that the Copyright law changed in 2012 and by 2017 most of the music companies were on board except for T-Series. So, IPRS was negotiating with the company for a long time.
Akhtar said T-Series also understood the value IPRS will bring to them. "The company (IPRS) which was collecting around Rs 40 crore a year, in two years has collected around Rs 200 crore. "So, they (T-Series) know that IPRS is working efficiently and is becoming powerful by the day."
But how does IPRS work?
IPRS represents artistes, including composers, lyricists, and music publishers (music companies). The association collects royalties on behalf of artistes who are its members each time their music is played, be it over the radio, live concerts or music OTTs. It currently has more than 5,000 members.
The society is also focusing on social media and other digital platforms where music is being used but royalties are not being paid. In fact, T-Series last year had filed a lawsuit against short video sharing platform Roposo saying that such platforms are infringing music content.
So, when it comes to royalty collection from digital platforms, T-Series can benefit by being an IPRS member as the society has partnered with platforms like Facebook, Instagram and will be joining hands with more such platforms. This will help T-Series get more revenues in the form of royalties.
In fact, IPRS' overall royalty collections have seen a significant growth in the last few years and digital has been a big contributor.
Royalties get a raise
The lyricist also pointed out that even in times of COVID-19 their collection was Rs 170 crore which he said is not short of a miracle. And with T-Series coming on board the royalty revenues are expected to increase by 30 percent to 40 percent.
T-Series will help the society increase its revenue collection especially from the digital medium. Be it short video sharing platforms, Facebook or Instagram, for creators, music is essential for their content. With T-Series offering a large music catalogue, revenue coming from streaming platforms or user generated content platforms will increase.
Streaming platforms even now are big contributors to overall revenue collected by IPRS. According to IPRS' financial report, television and streaming platforms contributed 57 percent to the total income in FY 19-20. This trend will continue as the company has already partnered with platforms like Facebook and Instagram giving users access to over eight lakh songs from the IPRS database.
In FY19-20, while IPRS registered Rs 51.2 crore revenue from public performances, streaming was not far behind, contributing Rs 49.89 crore to the overall revenue.
But things changed last year due to coronavirus outbreak which has slowed down the live events industry resulting in drop in collections from public performances.
"Physical sales is almost gone. It is the streaming platforms that is giving us royalty. In many places, our royalties were stuck because players knew there was some kind of dispute in royalty template and they were holding the money. Now, all that money will be released and given to music publishers, writers, creators," said Akhtar.
After T-Series, YRF may join soon
Along with strengthening the digital medium in terms of royalty collections, Akhtar said that T-Series coming on board will give them more power to have better interaction with end users which include music licensees like broadcasters, digital services, among others.
He said it would encourage more writers, creators and publishers to join IPRS.
"The only important company that is still not on board is YRF (Yash Raj Films) Music. I am sure better sense will prevail on them and sooner they will join because they have no choice," said Akhtar.
In fact, IPRS in 2019 had accused Yash Raj Films of collecting Rs 100 crore as royalties from IPRS members. The matter was handed over to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW). An FIR was filed against YRF on charges of criminal breach of trust, along with sections of The Copyright Act.
Along with big music companies, IPRS is looking forward to adding more artistes by extending support in tough times.
"In the COVID-19 situation, we found out music creators and writers who are getting small royalty and we sent them money to help them for basic needs. We also helped non-members of IPRS and we sent them money as they were in difficult situation. And now these artistes are thinking of joining IPRS. We will also be providing our members medical insurance," said Akhtar.