In an earlier post dated January 01, 2012, by Ms. Vinita Radhakrishnan (post may be found here) an important question was raised as to why are the IP rights in the landmark song, “Kolaveri Di” not being enforced by Dhanush and his team?
The answer lies in a recent interview of the famous singer to a daily, where he informed that he sold the rights of the song to Sony Music for nothing but an extremely small amount, quoted as pittance and trifling by many leading news agencies and which has also upset the family of the famed singer. According to Dhanush, “I can’t release any version of Kolaveri without Sony’s approval. And I’ll have to share every version of the song with them. So essentially I’ll get paid only for my singing. Like the Tamil version, the Hindi version of Kolaveri is with Sony Music. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
Dhanush also told the daily that he never imagined that the song will become such a rage and would go so viral on internet making him an international celebrity of sorts. Hence, the deal with Sony Music was made with such a smaller amount. He, at the time of making the deal felt that his singing was ordinary and suffered from many flaws. However, he does not regret selling the rights for a meagre amount as the fame and accolades from fans and industry insiders like Amitabh Bachchan and A.R. Rehman quoting him Amir Khan of Tamil cinema and comparing his song with an equally hummable oldie, “Ati Kya Khandala” has given him more content than anything.
In light of the aforesaid, the fact that Dhanush may neither enforce IP rights over nor make any money out of his song shows how neglecting original piece of work may cause drastic consequences to the worthy holder of the rights.
As for Sony Music, it is extremely intriguing to know why the said company is not taking any enforcement action against the many imitations of the song floating on internet around the world? The overwhelming popularity of the song, which has crossed the Indian boundaries and has in fact been proclaimed as the “song of the year, 2011″ by CNN International leads to this question. Why a big Music company is restraining itself from taking any action against such blatant copying? To give an insight, just during the period between 1 and 10 November, there were 43,800 mentions of Kolaveri in the US, 7,000 in France and 4,000 from the UAE, not to mention that Japan and Auckland is dancing to its tunes in its night clubs and flash mobs.
In spite of such viral nature of the song, Sony Music is silent over the increasing copying of the song. The reason why Sony Music is not taking any action seems more in terms of the monetary benefits, it is able to reap through the exploitation of the song over the cyberspace and social media, a first of its kind for an Indian song. After the song was initially leaked on You Tube, Sony was quick to become the content partner with You Tube. It capitalized on leaking of the song by way of posting the song in Tamil, Hindi and international facebook pages to drive the traffic, followed by a strategy to get as many twitter mentions of the song as possible. These efforts are said to have set cash registers ringing for the music company. Nearly 80% of the traffic to the song on You Tube was brought through facebook, whereas, increased twitter mentions of the song by nearly 200% everyday, starting at 179 and going till 14,907 tweets on December,24th raked more money for the said company, which is claimed to have been taking 50% of the revenue generated by the video from You Tube.
The aforesaid strategy and trend followed by Sony Music to monetize the benefits out of the song has definitely made the music company fill its pockets without any bounds even if this was at a cost of IP rights over the song. The marketing strategy has also set an example and a starting point for other music companies and filmmakers to follow in future. Though, as stated by Jehil Thakkar, executive director, KPMG India, “No one can really say what works, so replicating it (success of Kolaveri) is next to impossible.”
Author: Vintee Mishra