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Covid has very nearly wiped out the live performance business. Concerts, stand up shows, plays—anything that had the potential to turn into a super spreader event—became a giant no-no. So you can imagine the uproar when, on top of lost business, musicians and organisers were asked in July to pay a licence fee of Rs 20,000 ($270) for live streaming performances.

Tickets for online shows were already a tough sell, despite being priced one-fourth the usual cost of an on-ground event. Paying tariffs was out of the question; the order was withdrawn withdrawn The New Indian Express IPRS decides to rework fee for online events Read more .

The organisation levying the fee was the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS), founded in 1969. The fee was meant for live performances that were free and ad-supported, and ticketed but non-sponsored. For events involving sponsors, the fee rose to Rs 60,000 ($800) and for events spanning more than two hours, it could go up to as much as Rs 1 lakh ($1,350).

If you were a singer, lyricist, composer, music label or an event organiser registered with the IPRS, you had to pay. “For online events, we have now had consultations with various industry bodies ( EEMA EEMA Event and Entertainment Management Association The EEMA is an autonomous, non-profit body that brings together registered companies, institutions, and professionals in the event management industry and others) and will release the new tariff soon. They will be lower and follow global norms,” Rakesh Nigam, chief executive officer of IPRS, tells The Ken over the phone.

The IPRS is both responsible for collecting and distributing royalties and licences on behalf of its members and issuing licences to anyone wishing to perform music from its database. It currently has over 10 million songs. For the year ended March 2020, it collected nearly Rs 170 crore ($23 million) in royalties royalties MoneyControl How IPRS is upping the royalty game with its Facebook-Instagram tie-up Read more .

At present, the IPRS—which was re-registered re-registered Mondaq India: Legitimacy Of IPRS And PPL Read more as a copyrights society in 2017—has around 6,000 members under its wing, says Nigam. Lyricists and composers, numbering around 4,000, comprise a major chunk of its members.

The society also ends up having to act as a referee sometimes, mediating between the artistes and music labels. In November 2019, for instance, the Mumbai Police registered an FIR—based on IPRS’ complaint complaint The Hindu EOW books YRF over unpaid royalty allegations Read more —against one of Hindi cinema’s biggest production houses, Yashraj Films (parent company of Yashraj Music) and others.


Shruti Venkatesh

Based in Mumbai, Shruti covers ecommerce and internet for The Ken. In her previous stints with Forbes India and Outlook Business, she has also covered beats like FMCG, retail, stock market and advertising. When not chasing stories, she loves spending her time binge-watching, shopping and taking a leisurely stroll along the sea-facing promenade at Marine Drive.

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