Digital Notes, Real Rights: Inside the trio of tech, music and copyright societies

Rakesh Nigam of IPRS explores the impact of AI and technology on the Indian music industry, discussing trends, challenges, and the evolving role of creators in the digital landscape.

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Rakesh Nigam of IPRS

Call it business or art of music as you may please. That business no longer remains the same with the internet and its more recent advancement – Artificial intelligence (AI). Availability of AI tools have largely simplified creation of music. Don’t believe? Look at ChatGPT, one of its siblings (from the house of OpenAI) allows anyone with a basic understanding of music to create a few beats, rhythms and songs. With the revolution around AI and algorithms reaching a crescendo in 2023, the Indian music industry has found itself at a tipping point. 

Musically Yours! 

To understand how 2024 looks like, we need to relook at India's effervescent music marketing scene which has turned vibrant thanks to availability of technologies. According to Nielsen, 94% of online consumers in India listened to music and 71% of them found music as an essential part of their lives. But barely 5 million consumers bought an exclusive music subscription generating a revenue of Rs 220 crores according to a FICCI-EY  report. 


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The report reveals concerning trends, indicating that 80% of consumers are anticipated to refrain from paying for music, despite 85% of audio revenues being generated from non-subscription platforms, including digital channels like free-to-air (FTA) channels, radio, and similar sources. These platforms have significantly grown, boasting 462 million reported users as of November. Bollywood has effectively tapped into their true potential. However, a notable development is the rise of regional content on these non-subscription platforms, adding an extra layer to their impact.

Post-pandemic, technology has bridged the gap for genres like Indie, Hip Hop, and regional music via newer platforms. To many artists, there has been a blurring of the geographical barrier. Perhaps this explains why the average Indian millennial has accepted whole-heartedly music across Tollywood to Korean to Indie to hip-hop to even podcasts of music creators. This is a testament to how the average netizen has embraced diversity and cross-cultural collaborations. Post-pandemic, digital media has, thankfully, brought on-track live music as well. Virtual concerts and interactive online performances are engaging fans, and online digital booking or streaming shows have promised to offer an exclusive online experience.

Building A Creator Economy

When Sony unveiled the Walkman, the technology enabled music access to consumers on the go. The music industry has seen its own share of technological interventions which bridged the conventional supply-demand chain – Gramophone, Cassettes, DVDs, Online streaming, etc. This time though, AI can not only provide instant access to a wide variety of consumer preferences, but it could also mix and create a new tune, much to the frustration of existing creators. 

For creators, AI tools can help automate tedious tasks such as audio editing, mixing, and even mastering thereby freeing up time for creativity. A study by Pirate, a global studio network, revealed 30% of music creators are finding AI beneficial in aspects such as song writing and composition. AI was also a magic-wand in automating tasks such as research and inspiration while beat or rhythm creation, and mastering too were favoured by artists. Although an exact number on the number of music creators remains unavailable but google searches about AI music have consistently surged in the last 12 months. 

Indian artists have realised the true potential of technology in creation of music. On the tech-side, artists have realised the importance of Podcasts, and the growing importance of short-form video content. Platforms such as YouTube Shorts or Instagram Reels have exploded, offering bite-sized music experiences perfect for capturing attention. Audio podcasts too have gained traction, offering new channels for artist interviews, stories, and behind-the-scenes glimpses. 

Brands as well as creators have leveraged new-age digital platforms to create newer revenue models. With hyper-personalisation, creators are targeting content for specific regions, demographics, and interests. Brands too have activated partnership with relevant micro-influencers and niche creators to reach consumers in an authentic manner. This harmonious fusion of art, technology, and innovation may have placed the music industry to an exciting new era. But will this technology excite music creators? In more simpler words, has it created the potential for sustainable revenue? 

Societies In Digital Landscape

In the recent past, the industry has observed how enabling technologies have also induced fear. Autotune for instance could enable a bathroom singer with the capability to sing flawlessly with perfection. Tools like Music-LM could create stunningly diverse compositions, ranging from classical pieces to electronic dance music, based on text descriptions or even humming melodies. OpenAI, the parent of ChatGPT, has a sound-based neural network that can generate musical pieces in the style of specific artists or even fictional characters. experiencing a never-before-heard song, crafted in the iconic styles of Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, A R Rahman, or The Beatles, all composed by an AI tool or even the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist yet! Can you grasp the potential impact on music creators? This perhaps explains why we need a humane evaluation of AI in the realm of music.

When industrialisation struck, the casualty of job losses got referred to as a short-term loss. Automation and AI have already claimed jobs at major industries. An estimate pegs the job loss by 2050 at 800 million. How many of these could be from the music industry? While there remains no exact count of the size of the global music industry, global music copyright revenues have surged to $41.5 billion, driven by the sustained growth of streaming and a post-pandemic rebound in public licensing for concerts and hospitality. In Global markets Music Streaming platforms have played a crucial role, curbed piracy and allowing stakeholders including creators to claim a larger portion of the overall revenue in the digital music era and am hopeful that going forward India will become a subscription-driven market.

In response to the dynamic technological changes in the music industry, IPRS has proactively embraced innovative solutions to ensure relevance and efficiency. Technological advancements lie at the core of the strategy, with a strong emphasis on enhancing accuracy in data registration, mapping, and royalty distribution processes. The integration of cutting-edge technologies not only streamlines the operations but also underscores commitment to staying ahead in a rapidly evolving landscape. In parallel, IPRS recognizes the paramount importance of knowledge and upskilling initiatives. By prioritizing the education of both members and employees, the aim is to cultivate a workforce that is not only well-versed in industry advancements but is also empowered to embrace change seamlessly. This dual-pronged approach positions IPRS as a forward-thinking organization that not only adapts to technological shifts but actively shapes its trajectory for the benefit of all stakeholders. 

IPRS’s association and collaborations with leading players such as the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA) fosters cross-border music trade between countries. Collaborations such as the ones with LyricFind, enables creators and publishers on the IPRS network to monetize their work. With considerable investments and implementation of cutting-edge technology, IPRS is working to provide the highest level of transparency to its members. For IPRS to effectively monetise its members works, members should submit works data specially cue sheets for films and Serials so that IPRS can submit its claims specially for digital platforms.

With the digital shift in music marketing, social media and streaming have revolutionized strategies. Viral challenges aren't exclusive to A-listers like Anirudh Ravichander’s ‘Chaleya’ or Kesariya. Mahesh Raghvan’s ‘Harry Potter – The Ultimate Indian theme’ also surged with 19 million YouTube views, sparking the trend and various online memes. 

A successful music marketing blueprint blends traditional and modern methods. While social media platforms offer vast reach, music blogs retain credibility. Influencer marketing is pivotal; optimizing this facet proves more beneficial than overlooking it." 

In the contemporary music landscape, branding and diverse marketing tools have assumed a central role in elevating the popularity and discoverability of music. Beyond the creation of captivating melodies, today's creators find themselves immersed in a multifaceted industry where strategic branding and effective marketing are paramount. To thrive, a creator must transcend their traditional role and gain a comprehensive understanding of the various facets of the music business that profoundly impact their creativity and career trajectory. Creators must be cognizant of music licensing, digital distribution platforms, copyright laws, and the intricacies of royalty structures. Familiarity with these aspects empowers creators to navigate the complexities of the industry, fostering not only artistic innovation but also ensuring a sustainable and successful career in an era where business acumen is as crucial as musical talent.

This article is penned by Rakesh Nigam, CEO at IPRS (The Indian Performing Right Society Limited).

Disclaimer: The article features the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the stance of the publication.

The Indian Performing Right Society Limited Indian music industry AI tools IPRS Artificial Intelligence