An angry sequence of tweets by young and popular music director G.V. Prakash on dominant music labels ripping off music directors and lyricists by forcing them to sign contracts surrendering future royalties on the music score for movies has found traction among leading artists in the Tamil film industry.
The young music director, whose songs for the upcoming Vijay-starrer Thalaivaa has become a chart-topper in recent weeks, tweeted on Monday on his Twitter account (@gvprakash): “Some audio companies are stealing from composers, lyricists and making them sign fake agreements! Not fair!” and “Royalty is the basic right of the creator and it stays with him or her. Trying to steal that from them is cheap!”
Prakash found backers in popular lyricist Madhan Karky and music director Vijay Antony, among others, and by Tuesday afternoon most of the Tamil film industry seemed to agree with him.
“The problems have started increasing after the Copyrights (Amendment) Act, 2012 came into effect,” says upcoming lyricist Madhan Karky. “No one has been quite able to wrap their heads around what the amendments mean. Whereas we thought the royalty earnings would increase, pressure is being exerted to sign agreements where our salaries are being broken down into two parts as service charge and ‘advance royalty’.”
The issue has come up exactly a year after the amendment to the Copyrights Act was hailed by the likes of veteran lyricist Javed Akthar as a boon to Indian artists, as it conferred lifelong royalty to music directors, performers and lyricists.
What seems to be irking music directors and lyricists alike is the lack of revenue as royalties from new streams such as mobile ring tones, online song downloads and the revenue turnover from online media such as YouTube. “I pay Rs.45 a month to listen to my own songs as a ringtone,” says lyricist Thamarai.