Thursday 24 November 2011

Movie Promotion Then and Now….

As I write this post, my mind reels back to good old days of single screen theatres. I can still remember the color and feel of the yellow cellophane in which popcorn was sold. Yes popcorn was just popcorn and not the mind boggling variant of chocolate or caramel, with or without butter, salted or sweet….and how I can forget the clinking of bottle openers on the soft drink glass bottles in wooden crates, inviting one to have thanda!
But how would people know in those days if a movie is worth watching?
The first Don (starring Amitabh Bachhan, Zeenat Aman, and Pran) was released in 1978 without any promotion and was initially a flop. But later it was a hit mainly because of positive word of mouth publicity. Movie producers of that era neither had the luxury of modern technologies for heavy promotion nor did they have tech savvy street smart professionals who could understand the nuances of marketing. Though it sounds clich├ęd; Content was the king. The staple fare available to spread the word about movie were Film magazines, newspaper, radio, theatrical trailers, movie premieres and hand painted posters. I still remember those hand painted movie billboards and posters, showing a prominent pink on the cheeks of the leading lady and a hair lock falling delicately on her forehead!
Contrast it with present times where the brush that painted the poster (FYI…M.F Hussain started his career painting movie posters) got replaced by the swift mouse strokes on Adobe Photoshop.
Today, movie industry is more organized, is growing at a healthy pace and is expected to touch INR 137 billion by 2014 (as per industry estimates). There is a whole array of artillery available to fire the imagination of the movie crazy nation. Consider the recent example of Bollywood flick Ra-One, from digital to traditional, no stone was left unturned. 
Typical means of digital media promotion widely employed by film studios in India and elsewhere in the world are; official website for the film, static and gif/flash ads on various websites, mobile value added services, online internet games, console games based on movie characters, buzz in the social media, online contests etc. Digital media gives so much flexibility to experiment, that execution of the promo strategy is just limited by imagination.
Promo elements employed in traditional Print and TV/Radio media include paid advertisements, paid press releases, interviews,  appearances on TV shows, behind-the-scene clips, viral videos, theatrical trailers….to name a few.
Brand associations, movie merchandise, on ground activations, Retail POS (I came across a Ra-One burger combo in the theatre that was showing the movie!) are some of the other important promotional activities.
From an era of Golden Jubilees and Silver Jubilees to times when success parties are thrown if the movie survives a weeks’ time with a good opening, underscores the importance of movie promotion in a decade of hyper competition, media fragmentation, and reducing attention span. And yes, Content is still the king!

Tuesday 22 November 2011

The Mutton Song and Ad Jingles!

During my association with a Record Label, one thing that I enjoyed most was to pitch the catalogue to Brands and Agencies for synchronization in their advertisements on various media such as TV, Radio etc.
As a liberalized economy, we have seen how commodities have turned into Brands. Examples from our shopping cart include Wheat Flour, Chicken, Sugar etc. Though I have not come across advertisements where songs from Bollywood were used in the TV commercials of these branded commodities, however here is a pick of the songs that I would have pitched to the BRAND OWNERS of the following commodities.
Well this is my own list, however I’ll request the readers of this post if they can also pitch in with alternatives ;-) Let’s make the forum interactive!
Product: Fried Chicken
Song: You are my Chicken Fry
Film: Rock Dancer (1995)

It’s the year 2020 when all the hand pushed karts that sell chicken have become the franchisee of KFC. An executive on the way back  home, frustrated, hungry and tired after a hard day at work, looks at the chicken in the hand pushed kart…and starts to croon this song..

Voice Over: in a world where you can have no one to call as your own….KFC chicken is your only choice!
Product: Frozen Mutton
Song: The Mutton Song…Mein Hoon Taaza Mutton Mutton
Film: Luv Ka The End (2011)

Scenario/Context: It’s an animated film. In the fight between Frozen and Fresh, frozen mutton is crooning this song to make a case for buying frozen mutton..Woh hai baasi mutton mutton..arre mein hoon taaza mutton mutton..kholo dil ke button button..

Voice Over: Maanein Ya Na Maanein….Yahi hai asli taaza mutton. Toh kholenge na aap apne dil ke Button?!
Product: Chikki (Peanut Bar)
Song: Lonavla mein Chikki Khayenge…
Film: Ghulam (1998)

Scenario/Context: It’s again Year 2020. FMCG companies have branded this last bastion of the unbranded FMCG commodity. Chikki is a global snack now. But the global economy is reeling under yet another financial crisis and the best our guy can afford for his girl is a humble chikki.

Voice Over: Lonavle waali chikki ka wahi swad ab aapke karibi store mein uplabdh..vaccum packed to preserve Lonavla freshness and added with Vitamins..jab wahi swad yahan par mil sakta hai toh Lonavla kyun jaana, kyun hai na?!
Well this is a humorous take on the world of crazy Bollywood songs and the present reality where mundane commodities from ginger paste to chapatti are being turned into glitzy brands by FMCG companies in a race to deliver higher shareholder value.
As always, I’ll request the reader of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.

Friday 18 November 2011

Record Labels and Media Monitoring

As a fledgling Record Label, the biggest challenge is to ensure a high utilization of the catalogue across different media such as Television, Radio, Internet, Synchronization in Ad Films, Mobile downloads etc. 
In the case of Television, the Record Label can either do an annual deal with the Television Channel or “pay as you use”. In an annual deal the Channel pays a lump sum amount on an annual basis for the utilization of Record Label’s library (catalogue and upcoming titles), whereas in a “pay as you use” scenario the Channel pays each time it utilizes the track owned by the Label.
W.r.t “pay as you use”, there are two scenarios:
Scenario 1
The TV Channel’s Business Operations Manager gets in touch with the Record Label, informs them about the track that the Channel wants to use in Soap/Reality/Event etc., and confirms the License fee. Upon positive confirmation from the Operations Manager, the record Label is good to prepare the invoice, receive payment against the same and issue the License for Telecast of Songs/Music.
Scenario 2
The Supervising/Executive Producer of the Soap/Reality/Event etc. utilizes the Song/Music owned by the Record Label and miss to inform about its usage to the Business Operations manager. The said usage comes to the notice of the Record Label.  Although utilization of the track without the permission of the Record Label amounts to infringement of copyright, in the interest of business and to develop a long term relationship with the Television Channel, the Record Label approaches the Television Channel and informs them about this usage. However the Operations Manager requests the Label to provide exact details like Name of the Album, Name of the Track, Name of the Programme in which the track was utilized, Time of telecast etc. to confirm the usage.
Providing video recording of the claimed usage by the Record Label to the Channel sufficiently confirms the claimed usage. The big question is:
How can a Record Label obtain the Video recording of a Programme that has already been telecast?
OK, I can hear the clamoring of Youtube, Hulu etc..but what if it’s not there?
Enter the world of Media Monitoring Services..
Television Monitoring is one of the services provided by Media Monitoring Agencies. The Monitoring Agency records, retrieves, transcribe, translate, and deliver reports in various formats. They also provide archived recordings of telecast on various Television Channels.  The Record Label can employ the services of these Monitoring Agencies to obtain customized reports on the usage of its catalogue by various Television Channels.
Some examples of Monitoring agencies are Esha News, Perfect Monitoring, TAM etc.
The purpose of employing the services of monitoring agencies by Record Labels is to ensure the compliance of the contract terms between the Record Label and the Television Channel apart from checking unauthorized usage of the tracks owned by the Record Label.
Commercials – Build or Buy
Typically a half hour recording for a single channel costs anywhere from INR 175/- to INR 500/-,(could vary from agency to agency). However if the requested recording is more than a year old, one has to pay a premium.
In case the requirement of the Record Label is to get a monthly report on the usage of its tracks, a single report say Song Report By Brand or Trailer Report by Brand typically costs INR 30,000/- to INR 50,000/-.
Illustrated below are typical costs involved in setting up Record label’s own monitoring infrastructure. Though the estimates are illustrative the Bill of Material mentioned in the estimate will give the reader of this post a fair idea of the actual costs involved. Also note that the estimates do not cover the cost of sophisticated software employed by professional monitoring agencies to keep the human intervention minimal. In the below estimates, the capability of the employee manning the monitoring desk is critical to mark instances wherein the tracks from Record Label’s library are played. It will be fair to assume that the employee has sufficient knowledge of the tracks owned by the Record Label.
Please note that the cost is proportional to the number of channels to be monitored.

 I hope the information provided in this post will be helpful to the readers and will aid them in a similar situation.
As always, I’ll request the reader of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.

Monday 14 November 2011

Navigating the Maze of Music Royalties..

It won’t be wrong to say that Music Industry is the petri dish for any technological innovation in the distribution of entertainment content. Any new medium, internet is the first, or now mobile, the early impact of technological innovations bought about by these media are first felt by the Music Industry. Fuelled by explosive growth of Telecom, India is among the few countries in the world where digital music sales, primarily driven by Mobile Value Added Services (CRBT, Ringtones, etc.), have exceeded physical sales.
The way Indian Music Industry is organized is quite different from its counterparts in other geographic regions. The driver of the Indian Music Industry is Film Music, though the contribution of Independent Music Albums cannot be ignored, it’s relatively miniscule.
If you are someone who works in the Business Operations function of a Telco, Television, Events, Internet, Advertising or Radio organization and your job involves liaison with Music Labels/Music Rights Holder or ensuring Royalty/License payments to these rights holders, it would be good to know whom do you pay the Royalty/License amounts among each of the three entities viz. Producer, Publisher and the Record Label.

Producer:            The term Producer in the above context refers to the Producer of a motion picture. Producer can be an individual or an organized entity. In the Indian context, producer is the one who organizes Music Composer, Lyricist, Shooting Locations, Artists that appear in the Song Video and other paraphernalia that goes into the creation of a song. In usual practice, Producer buys out the rights of the Composers and Lyricist vide a Legal Contract and mutually agreed remuneration.  Producer in turn sells this bundle of rights along with Song Videos to the Record Label for a mutually agreed consideration and Marketing Deliverables. Record Label thus assumes the role of Publisher in the Musical and Literary works and the role of Producer for the Song Videos.
Publisher:           The Wikipedia “” definition of a Music Publisher is “music publisher (or publishing company) is responsible for ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. Through an agreement called a publishing contract, a songwriter or composer "assigns" the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company licenses compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects royalties and distributes them to the composers. They also secure commissions for music and promote existing compositions to recording artists, film and television."
In Indian context, usually the Publisher is associated with Non Film Music Projects and undertakes the job of Production, Marketing, Distribution Arrangements and Monetization. If you would have watched the film “Alvin and the Chipmunks”, the character of “Uncle Ian”, will give you a fair idea of a Publisher’s role. Please note that “Uncle Ian” is not a stereotypical or an ideal Publisher, there is a lot of work put in by the Publishers to make their Artists successfulJ.
Disenchanted by the way Indian Music Industry is structured, there is a shift in the way Composers are now cutting deals with Film Producers. There is a section of Composers who do not like to part away with the Musical rights they hold in the composition.
Record Label:    It is an organized entity that undertakes production, manufacture, marketing/promotions and monetization of music recordings vide various online and off-line distribution channels. It also does talent scouting and development of new artists & manages contracts with various Producers and Publishers.

Deciphering the Rights controlled by Publisher, Record Company and the Producer in different components of Music:
Delivery/Utilization Medium:     Mobile
Component of the Medium:       Song Video
Royalty Payable to:                           ?
In an ideal scenario as depicted above, the royalty is payable to the Producer and the Publisher. But as I have mentioned above, in Indian context, the Producer acquires the rights of Composers/Lyricist and sells the bundle of Musical and Literary rights to the Record Label. Thus the royalties will be payable to the Record Label. But before you write that cheque in favor of Record Label, please ensure that supporting documents detailing the flow of rights from the Composer/Lyricist to the Producer and from Producer to the Record Label are furnished by the Record Label.
Though the above illustrations are ideal scenarios, it should serve well if you ask for the link or supporting documents from the entity that claims the right to the intellectual property for the purposes of granting the License to you. It’s akin to buying a piece of land or physical property, wherein you want to ensure that you are not being sold something that belongs to someone else!
As always, I’ll request the reader of this post, if you have time, please drop a line.