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By Gabriel G. Momin
FEATURE | JULY 24, 2020:
The COVID-19 pandemic has left no choice for the music fraternity, but to host online shows and earn by fits and starts from the same. Recently, the new rule passed by the Indian Performing Right Society Limited,(IPRS) slapped the artists with new impositions of tariff rates, varying from 20,000 rupees and beyond depending on the duration and number of songs performed online.
The tariffs were put into enforcement earlier on July 1, which includes songs and other literary works liable to rights of ownership under its domain.
Specifically, it mentioned that Rs 20,000 as the fee will be levied on any songs performed that are registered with the industry, asserting that the new medium of hosting shows online does injustice to the composers and songwriters.
Basically, the idea of introducing the new tariffs is to safeguard property rights, intellectual goods the artists create which also gives economic incentive for their creations.
"We've been receiving royalties from IPRS from time to time since we're registered and our albums are linked with the organization," said Rudy Wahlang(Soulmates' guitarist) over the phone.
However, many of the artists gave a mixed response on the new tariffs imposed, as they have no live shows, and the tax levied is a lump sum amount at this hour of the pandemic.
"It would be feasible if at all the artist had to pay a grand or two as part of the tariffs for organizing virtual shows. Unlike the live shows where people generally pay whatever is printed in the tickets, it is not the same case in live streamings, few people generously donate, few people just bounce to their normal tasks, and 20,000 is way too much," speculated Rudy.
The recently imposed IPRS royalties may be tormenting for artists without huge fans and sponsors supporting their online shows, but if you're not registered with the society, you may not fall under the purview of the new rule, he added on.
Few Opinions from across the Northeastern Musicians
"It's a huge royalty for artists when a lot of musicians are living hand to mouth, it needs to be re-introspected" (Ahowee).
"What I understand from here is they want to own every artist, 20k is a lot of money for a small band or artist, and in order to be able to go live they will need some kind of assistance from sponsors or stuff like that"( anonymous artist).
"I have mixed feelings about IPRS charging money for live-streams because there are a lot of factors involved. For instance, if you are a cover band it's bad news for you if you are doing only original music and singing songs of those artists not registered under IRPS you have nothing to worry about. I play mostly original music so I am least bothered," Lima Jepi Mongro, ANATB
"On one hand I do support the IPRS to charge money for performing a song/song by the artist/band that is tied up with IPRS during performance since it's the right of the artist/band to get paid and compensation for what they have worked so hard on. But on the other hand, I personally think it's unfair to change such a ridiculous amount. Most of the time l, even while playing live, we don't even get paid half of the minimum amount of what they intend to change. If it's an artist or a band that already has a good fan base and good sponsorship then they're able to do it without much struggle but what about other local artists and local bands? Especially during such a time of struggle, I think they need to rethink and re-evaluate on the charges. But again, on the other hand, I think this will push artists and bands to work harder on writing and composing their original songs which are good," Baio Sylliang, bassist of Wreckless shadows, Shillong.
With the new directive given by the IPRS earlier this month, which stated that – "a sum of INR 20K is to be paid for live streaming performances to the society if an organizer is to bring in an artist signed up with the IPRS. It further includes that the charges may ascent to INR 60k plus taxes if sponsors are involved. Also, it has been stated that if the duration of such streams goes on for more than two hours, the costs jump even more to INR 1 lac plus taxes.
"The entire country has been hard hit with this pandemic and that means hardship and monetary loss for all kinds of artists and art organizers, as it does for so many others. The independent organizers and artists are fighting back with new ways to monetize music consumption i.e live stream sessions and record sales. But with the new set of rules in action independent organizers won't be able to hire artists signed with the IPRS unless they pay a hefty sum of money. The question remains – " Has the IPRS made a fair decision by implementing such rules during the times pandemic?," Sam Konjham, Founder of CORE INC (Vocal of Tyrrhenian/Arseniic)
"It is a kind of business operation for sure. But in my opinion, I should better support it. A good way of doing business so that everyone (artists) could get something from it," Sony Taba (Sky Level)
A webinar is also said to take place to discuss this issue which shall witness many concerned artists, 5:30 pm on July 26, 2020.
Mr. Atul Churamani- Managing Director of Turnkey Music and Publishing Pvt. Ltd
Mr. Rakesh Nigam- CEO- Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS)
Mr. Ali Sachedina- Vice President – General Counsel & Business Affairs – JioSaavn
Mr. Neel Mason, Managing Partner, Mason and Associates
Tanvi Misra-World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
Rafael Pereira- Managing Partner, Tinnuts
Moderator: Anushree Rauta- Founder, IPRMENTLAW.