| 22 Feb 2024
Labels bargain for better customer connect

MUMBAI: The last few weeks have been bonanza time for connoisseurs of music across genres.

It's that time of the year when you surfed through the racks, picked your favourite bunch of CDs, and move on without putting too much of a strain on your wallet. With physical sales hitting a low and the global slowdown setting in, music labels in the country have been going the retail sector way by instituting big bargain sales and giving away CDs at throwaway prices.

Music label executives however insist it's de rigeur to carry out such sales at regular intervals. It's nothing new. Music companies carry out these bulk sales to get rid of old stocks and it works both way for consumers as well as the music labels,... says Times Music COO Adarsh Gupta.

Are these sales carried specifically during the end of the financial year? Not really, it depends on each label. Our next sale may not necessarily be at the end of the fiscal,... says Music Today DGM - A&R and marketing Mannu Kohli, who recently concluded a basket sale in Delhi which was a sell-out both retailers and individual buyers made the most of it. For the sale, Music Today had displayed a huge catalogue, If you give consumers a wide variety to choose from, the response is always positive. We observed that consumers look out for older albums from across the genres,... she said, adding that it were Sufi albums which sold like hot cakes 

On the other hand, conducting such sales at the end of the fiscal year is very normal, feels Saregama new media head Gautam Sarkar, Discounts are mostly offered on B+ mediocre film scores you won't find a A R Rahman CD there. There is always a category where no discounts are offered,... Sarkar says 

Music as content has gone through dramatic changes due to new formats and constantly changing technology. Industry experts believe that people are listening to more music, but do not particularly want ownership over it. There is a lot of free music which consumer can access - whether on radio, TV, online, on ipods, PCs, MP3s, or through performances etc. This essentially means that music is now treated more as a commodity and as a value add rather than a place of pride of in their lives.
The audience has moved away from buying full albums to  particular songs they like, says Big Music CEO Kulmeet Makkar.

As revenues from physical full album sales are getting reduced, there are alternative ways of selling songs are being explored such as value ad with a consumer product, more and more hit compilations and value packs,... says Makkar.

However, CDs as a format are more urban and upmarket format and hence, the degrowth in CD sales is not related to the pricing, he says. Bulk sales are perhaps an incremental way to reach out to a larger audience base as a more affordable route, Makkar adds.

Bargains and offers are more to do with the lifecycle of the content, working capital issues and temporary fall in retail offtake -  a fact of life that the music industry shares with any consumer product industry.

Mannu Kohli however, insists that the current slowdown has nothing to do with the number of sales, and that such sales are held at regular intervals.

Most industry experts agree that conversion from the physical format to the digital format throughout the country will take at least 10 to 15 years. It will take some time till technology penetrates the rural areas and upto some extent even the semi urban market, they say. Till then, those markets will be open for physical sales.

In the next three to five years, mobile downloads will be an increasing part of labels' revenue earnings. Such discount sales may well then become an unheard of concept by then.