In a first, the Indian Singers Rights’ Association (ISRA) distributed Rs 51 lakh in royalties to singers on Friday. The beneficiaries included popular playback singers KS Chitra, P Susheela, KJ Yesudas, SP Balasubrahmanyam and Srinivas.
Speaking to The Hindu, ISRA CEO Sanjay Tandon said, “This ₹51 lakh royalty money will grow 10 fold if and when radio channels, television channels and mobile companies start paying us. Right now, only IPL teams, amusement parks and few other establishments have paid the royalty money.”
Speaking to media persons at the event, singer SP Balasubrahmanyam said, "The government has given a rule saying that royalty should reach the singers as well. This programme is organised to give a part of the shares to singers in South India. This is a good thing to be welcomed.”
In March last year, SPB and others were slapped with legal notices by renowned music director Ilaiyaraaja over performing his compositions without his explicit permission and a payment of royalty to him. While this took the singers by surprise, experts had clarified that Ilaiyaraaja was right in asking for royalty as long as he owned the copyright to the music.
Speaking to Puthiya Thalaimurai channel, singer Chitra said, "Everyone knows a singer doesn't have pension or anything. After they sing, if the song is a hit, they will get a few shows here and there. We know a lot of people who are struggling to live. This will definitely help them, especially when they are aged and cannot go to work. This royalty will really be useful. We welcome this."
Singer Srinivas added, "This is not the case where you give money to someone who already has money. This is for a singer who has disappeared after singing 4- 5 songs. He's probably struggling in a village. When the money reaches him, it is a big thing. If we meet that social responsibility, it would be a success."
However, if royalty would go to singers of all ranks remains unclear.
In a transparency review conducted by the Centre for Internet and Society, Bengaluru, that compares the publicly available information on the websites of music collective management organisations(CMOs), ISRA did not detail the “distribution of percentages, nor the administrative cut it seeks to take” as per the Copyright Amendment Act 2012.