Millennium Post

I am Losing interest in Filmy Songs: Sonu

Ever since singer Sonu Nigam and record label T-Series buried the hatchet after a very public spat over copyright issues in 2013, they have been collaborating on a regular basis. After releasing Sonu Nigam’s father Agam Kumar Nigam’s single, Kya batau, the label has teamed up with Nigam for another track, Aa bhi jaa, composed by Jeet Ganguli and written by Manoj Muntashir. Nigam talks about his latest single and why film music doesn’t excite him any more.

T-Series and you have teamed up after a long time. What’s the response been like?
This is the first single I have done with T-Series although we have done many albums together in the past. Since nobody buys albums any more, it’s good to solely focus on singles. The video has turned out well and the music has been flawlessly composed by Jeet Ganguli, and Manoj Muntashir is a wonderful writer. It also brings back the legacy of the past as a lot of people have grown up on the music of Deewana, Yaad and Chanda Ki Doli. We too have grown up listening to these songs.
Despite the fact that we are doing this after such a long time, this video has been appreciated a lot. I received many calls from people including my colleagues who said, ‘Yaar apne din yaad aa gaye jab hum ek ek gaane ke piche bhaaga karte they.’

Lately, you have been experimenting quite a bit with non-film music, like The Music Room with Bikram Ghosh. What’s different about this single?
I am happy that we did The Music Room last year. It was a very different kind of album as it was for the extreme listeners but we have to also take care of mainstream listeners. I have been doing videos on and off but this new video is the one jo bahaar zyada aaya hai and that’s why it has been received so well.

From albums to singles, films to non-films… you have been part of all the changing trends. How do you view the current trend of digital music, and social networking sites being used as a marketing and promotional tool?
Today, we have to rely on the social networking buzz and that is also why there are singles. Earlier, if an artiste was known and people liked his work, then they would buy his or her CDs. According to me, that was a better way because when it comes to social networking, if people watch the videos, the artiste has no way of knowing if they liked them or not. Often, people watch the video online even if they hate it but in the process, the views for that video increase! So, a video gets 10 million views, but the artiste isn’t sure whether the views are because they love the song or because they want to ridicule or laugh at him. That’s why sometimes the really good songs get undermined because something that is mediocre gets more hits online. The good thing is, many a time, if a person doesn’t have the backing of a music company, they can make news by leveraging social networking. They can promote their songs or videos and they are promoted by word-of-mouth. I have always believed that technology has its advantage and disadvantages too.

One of the issues for the music industry today is the longevity of a song. Also, audiences barely recognise singers today as opposed to earlier, when singers were household names.
That is why we want independent singles to do well as that will give people the option to listen to the song because of its true potential and not because of how much marketing has gone into it. There are many times when a song grows on the listener. That is also why there is no longevity because the songs are forced on the audience; those songs are not of their choice. With films, we get our daily dose of promoted film songs but the audience should also get a dose of a singer’s independent music. 

The other day, when I was performing, I received a request for Aa bhi jaa. My musicians and I haven’t even practiced that song yet but I still received a request for it! This is the reach of a good song, where there isn’t too much marketing involved and it is not even part of a film but we still got a request. Singles are getting popular, which is a very good sign and a parallel market should open up.

Have contracts changed after the Copyright Amendment Act?
The thing is, except for Sound Box magazine, nobody actually understood what the case was all about. Even today, people ask me whether I receive royalty from music companies. I am, like, we can’t ask for royalty from music companies or producers; similarly, they can’t take royalty on our behalf as it is not allowed legally. The rights to acquiring royalties are only to authorised societies like Indian Singers Rights Association (ISRA), which is for singers. Now they understand it. Also, now, the contracts are fair and are being made with a consensus. There are standard contracts now, which T-Series, Sony Music, Zee Music and other companies are following. Things are changing gradually.
But you took the brunt of most of it…

Yes. In India, aisa bhi hai ke if you take a stand, instead of supporting you, they isolate you. When Taylor Swift took a stand in America against Spotify, people supported her. But, in India, I was left out. Even now I don’t sign a contract without getting it approved by Sanjayji (Tandon), Managing Director of ISRA.

Any developments in ISRA and SAI?
It’s a very long process. We are gradually consolidating everything, it can’t happen overnight. I think Sanjayji is the right person to talk to about this. I think he is also doing some affiliation with other societies abroad.

Are your songs still being re-dubbed?
You never know, anything can happen. And, frankly, I am losing interest in filmy songs because people haven’t approached me with a really melodious song. I keep singing but there isn’t a single song I can talk about. I have sung for Raees but I can’t comment on it till it releases. Now my main focus is on non-film music and also it’s the concert season, so there is a lot of travel on the cards for me. I recently did television after a long time and that was fun too. There are other musical avenues that I want to explore.

Such as…
Collaborating with other people which includes singers from other countries. Box office India
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