New deal makes it easier for Indian artists to market music

New Delhi: For a tanpura player in a remote corner of India regaling music lovers anywhere overseas would no longer remain a pipedream, thanks to a new service that allows upcoming independent artists and labels to sell their music and videos across 600 online outlets worldwide.

A new deal inked between Sony Music India and Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) makes it easier for the tanpura player (along with other independent artists or labels) to reach out to a wider audience, market his work better and receive a greater chunk of the selling price as also get real time updates of sales.

"We are operating in a digital environment today and with this deal we are offering Indian artists and independent labels access to a network of over 5 million digital stores spanning across countries," Shridhar Subramaniam, president- Sony India and Middle East told PTI.

Under the arrangement, local artists can submit content which is after scrutiny uploaded by Sony Music to the distribution network of that includes all major services like iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Netflix, Unbox, CinemaNow and mobile carriers such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint and Vodafone.

"Basically you could think of us as the truck driver who picks up content from the artist and drops it at the distributor`s door. It is upto them to scrutinise it according to their parameters," says Subramaniam when asked about concerns of privacy.

IODA founded in 2003 currently has a catalog of nearly two million tracks that is licensed to over 400 digital storefronts worldwide. It represents a diverse range of music from over 50 countries, including rock, electronic, hip-hop, metal, punk, indie, world, latin, jazz and classical.

Experts point out that as the digital music market in India explodes – expected to reach USD 4.25 billion in 2014 ? there is growing global appetite for music from the country ranging from indie pop to Bollywood film music and dialogue clips, devotional songs to Indian classical. A growing fan base with increasingly sophisticated digital music habits is also forcing industry veterans to change their revenue models, they add.

Some industry veterans however say while it is comparatively easy to put their music online marketing it is a different ballgame altogether.

"It is very easy to put one`s recordings on the many existing platforms either directly like on itunes or through content aggregators like Believe, Awal, The Orchard and IODA or through a software like Rebeat. Getting people to know that your music exists out there among the millions of tracks available is the tricky part, " says Achille Forler, Managing Director, Deep Emotions Publishing.

Forler who runs a joint venture with Universal Music Publishing Group points out that not many people are looking at online marketing of their music.

"All the young bands know how to put their music online through the likes of You Tube and Myspace and through software available for free download online. We on the other hand also help them do marketing promotions in five different languages to enable their music to reach the listeners," says Forler.

Sony India`s Subramanium says, "Under the deal there is an additional special patented service called Promonet online promotional system specifically designed to help fans discover and share music from thousands of top independent artists and labels around the world. This is an opportunity for artist and labels to connect through over 3000 blogs, podcasts, internet radio stations, social networking and music websites."

Artists such as Bickram Ghosh, Rashid Khan, Labh Januja, Raj Brar Lehmber Hussainpuri signed on to Indya Records and Frankfinn Entertainment are among the first to take advantage of the Ioda/Sony Music India partnership to expose their music to more fans in other countries.

Tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh says, ?This is a unique platform for artists like us whose audiences transcend all borders. It helps us reach out to young audiences who are increasingly sourcing their music from Digital Platforms?.

Sarthak of 97 West, a small upcoming jazz band from Kolkata says, "I think the Ioda deal would be a nice idea to reach out to newer audiences. Usually we would have to pay something to upload on to the Internet and with this deal if they do the right publicity it can work for us.

The band like many upcoming independent artists and labels have a page on social networking site Myspace which positions itself as a hub for music, entertainment and games.

"Currently we are also promoting our music on Facebook and other social networking sites but there is only so much that such sites can do."