Bhojpuri star, Manoj Tiwari, jumps in to battle against top music labels

Nov 08, 2017, 13:47 IST | Dharmendra Jore

YRF Music will pay royalty, says ED, after questioning Aaditya Chopra yesterday

Ghazal singer Chitra Singh's lone fight against music companies is now getting support from others from the industry she has been a part of for many decades.

Manoj Tiwari, Bhojpuri singer, lyricist and composer
Manoj Tiwari, Bhojpuri singer, lyricist and composer

With music composers coming forward to support her, directly and indirectly, some music labels too have agreed to part with copyright royalty to composers and lyricists, especially after Singh's complaint was taken up by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has been questioning top bosses of music companies since last Saturday.

ED is probing the companies under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, on the suspicion that the money collected from stakeholders in the name of royalty was used for other purposes.

Singh had filed an FIR with the ED last December, and last Friday she had told mid-day that her fight was for all co-workers who had not been paid royalty by the companies.

Yash Raj takes the first step
Sources in ED said the agency was told by YRF Music that it had started clearing pending dues as per artistes' demands. Aaditya Chopra was summoned to ED's Mumbai office yesterday. Other than Chopra, vice president of Sony Music India, Shridhar Subramanium, and MD-CEO of Universal Music Devraj Sanyal also recorded their statements.

On Saturday, Bhushan Kumar (T-Series) and Vikram Mehra (Saregama) were interrogated by the ED team that included joint director Dinesh Bhoyar.

Last week, the ED had searched offices of all the companies involved and seized documents. The companies are accused of not paying 50 per cent of the royalty amount to eligible artistes or their legal heirs. Primary assessment states the fraud could be to the tune of Rs 1,500-2,000 crore.

After reading mid-day's report on Singh's struggle, Bhojpuri singer, lyricist and composer Manoj Tiwari said from New Delhi that he had taken up the matter as a professional and an MP (BJP) to ensure that it reached its logical end.

Tiwari said he had petitioned the Delhi High Court, Economic Offences Wing (of Mumbai and Delhi Police) and also informed the ED about the raw deal that he and many others had been getting from music companies.

"The companies have recovered the money from all sorts of sources, be it digital, stage shows/concerts or others who are liable to pay such an amount, 50 per cent of which should go to the artistes. My songs are played everywhere, but I haven't got a single paisa from the companies in the past seven years," he said. Tiwari, who is president of Delhi BJP, had expected things to change after the copyright act was amended in 2012. "These companies think we are small people, but it's people like us who earn them a lot of money," he added.

"I know about Chitraji's fight, and I had approached the Delhi HC last year. Some composers backtracked after reaching a settlement with the companies. But I'm going to ensure the law takes its course. I will also raise the issue in Parliament."

'No royalty in India'
An artiste who is a part of a hit Bollywood composer pair told mid-day that they didn't get any royalty from India. "But that's an issue every musician has. Despite the law changing in 2012, the effective position has not changed," he said. "I'm just one of the many composers/writers/stakeholders who is affected. I hope the ED investigation brings clarity to the process. I'm glad that there has been some sort of action in the process. It's much needed, simply because the entire thing is a blur."

He added that the Indian Performing Right Society Limited wasn't collecting royalties on artistes' behalf, because of which many were losing their earnings. "We don't know whether that loss will ever be addressed. The composers and writers for whom their back-catalogue is their only source of revenue, the current situation is nothing short of disastrous. For their sake, I hope there is a favourable new system that allows producers, record labels and the authors/creators of music to benefit equally as per the law."

Percentage from the royalty collected artistes are eligible for

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