Music rights body pauses party organisers' playlists

With New Year’s Eve upon them, the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRA, western region) is yet to decide what songs it can play at the parties and events hosted by its members. They say the music rights body, Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS), is not telling them which songs are copyrights of its member artists and command royalty.

Don’t want to face the music: Party organisers do not want to be fined for playing rights-protected numbers, and are, therefore, demanding a list of such tracks from the IPRS. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

According to Praadip Shetty, honorary secretary of FHRA (western region), the IPRS is purposely putting off announcing the list to event organisers, so it can later charge hefty penalties for rights-protected tracks played at parties.

The senior authorities at IPRS (western region), however, reasoned that instead of them sending a list of innumerable music tracks from their 3,000 members, the hoteliers and organisers should submit them their playlist, so they can approve or snub the songs on it.

“The IPRS people are behaving as if their members have a copyright over each and every music track. We have never said we won’t pay royalties for the music we play. But there is no mechanism to know which track belongs to IPRS members,” said Shetty.

The constituents of FHRA are also smarting under the time restraint imposed on New Year’s celebrations in Pune and Mumbai.

“We are already in trouble as we might lose business worth around Rs 150 crore, thanks to the police’s deadline on New Year parties. To top, we have to shell out a huge amount of money in royalties to the IPRS, as there is no uniformity in the rates. As a result, owners of small restaurants are not hosting any event,” Shetty said.

He added that the FHRA is in talks with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, regarding the various stringent licensing policies for performing live musical events.

IPRS says
GG Prasad, senior regional manager, licensing, IPRS (western region), said, “We have 3,000 members, and it will not be possible to send a list of the innumerable music tracks, bearing a copyright from our members, to the FHRA. Instead of that, the hotel owners and event organisers could submit us the list of song tracks they intend to play, and the IPRS could tell them whether any of those bear copyrights from our members.”

Javed Akhtar, Gulzar and Khayyam are among the members of the IPRS. Prasad further said, “It is false that there is irregularity in the royalty charges. The rates are published on our website,” said Prasad. “In the backdrop of New Year’s celebrations, the IPRS also offered a discount on royalty fees. But organisers are interested in saving every penny.”

‘Playing spoilsport’
Sandesh Deshmukh, an event organiser at a restaurant in Kharadi, said that the music rights officials dampen the mood of celebration by swooping down on the venue and asking to cough up money. “Although they were supposed to charge Rs 25,000 as royalty, they charged on the basis of the event venue last year,” he said. Avinash Kumar, who is arranging a do at a posh restaurant on Nagar Road, said, “I paid Rs 45,000 as royalty for the upcoming New Year’s party at a five-star restaurant. Such chunky fees always collapse our budget for the event.”  

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