Our most albums so far we released, including a re-issue of Neel Sarkar Project is being appreciated in many places. However, if we talk about sales, then its at the rock bottom. Take the example of our September release of Kolkata Heavy Metal act ShredxXx which is now making rounds in Indian music scene. But so much for its hype of old school sound and treatment that they have been appreciated for by many reviewers and fans, this EP is not selling, not even making it to the threshold of distributable revenue.
The physical copies were sold out in 2 months and digital sales is also making some sporadic addition to the revenues. Sporadic because the revenue has barely crossed a thousand mark and not even a 5 figure. How much money can you make by selling a 6 track EP for ₹60/- that also when you need to beg people to buy. Now coming to the first statement. When we say CDs are sold out, it means that we sold out 40 something copies, which is hilarious. It is not bad or not the case that people dont like to listen to new music. But, the audience has somehow moved away from the concept of spending money for listening to music. Their attitude is, if its free, then why not get it for free and as much as possible as long as it is available.
Some may argue about its genre being heavy metal draws lesser crowd while others may sight the quality of musicianship and/or production craftsmanship as the reason for this. However, that is hardly true as albums by pros like Rahul Guha Roy (Cassini’s Division frontman) or The Bodhisattwa Trio (where so called pro craftsmen were involved) is also doing the same. Probably the purchase was little higher than this album, however it never crossed a significant mark through which we can say that we are happy with the revenue and have made artists happy by providing them with a large share of profit. Whether there is a record label like ours exists or not, but it needs to be understood that producing music and getting it out for the fans is very expensive even with todays technology. For musicians, its a humongous task. They earn their funding by playing gigs which are very low paying and selling whatever merchandise and album copies are possible over a very long period. There are some musicians, who have day jobs as sessions musicians or hold some other job-profile. So to accumulate a sum of minimum ₹90,000-1,00,000 (yes that is what it takes) is something of a project for which even Gods may shun if you do not have a steady source of income. But do not think that the aforesaid amount is only for recording or producing an album. There is inlay design, photography, cover art, promotional collaterals design, printing and job work of physical merch and album copies, etc, etc. No one talk about it because most of them dont take all of these into account at once. At the length even if you pull all these off somehow, then comes the most important part, the release gig, which if not supported by any local event organiser (which is more likely) will also fall upon the shoulders of artists and eventually attract a sum of ₹ 20,000-30,000 at minimum with a free venue. Which was the case when we released The Bodhisattwa Trio’s last album Heart Of Darkness. The band spent around that amount for a release gig they organised at Goethe Institute’s MaxMueller Bhavan, Kolkata.
Now this is just the beginning as you may know how some of you haggle about the price of the album and some shameless lot even send texts to bands and sometimes to us for a free copy of the album. Now, who are you people and why do you deserve a free copy? We would happily give you a free copy or two if you fund the band’s next project or you will probably receive more in appreciation of your contribution. We would also make sure that you get a free thoroughfare in their release gig where you will be made the guest of honour. But if you have not contributed, then please stop honking. When a band releases an album they are constantly looking for new avenues of making some money and getting what they have spent, back to their pockets. That seldom happens. The older musicians dont care about it because most of them have other sources of income by now and if not then they are rich all along. Youngest generation, who are yet to make it as musicians, like ShredxXx or our next release The Animal Farm, are in the soup of forever dissatisfied fans. The fans would cheer and jive to their tune as long as bands do not want money from them. The moment you break the news of new album is released, the fans recede back to their pokerfaced state. The figures or incidents may be a little different in specifics for each band we have released, but they are absolutely similar in nature that artists dont get paid and specially if you are a musician and you want to sell you music, then all hell will break loose on you.
The current situation has compelled us to publish this article as we felt that it is becoming increasingly difficult to please fans of the musicians, i.e. you. This is essentially a business where you, the fans run everything and make wheels turn. Now fans will decide whether they want new music to come out or they want to listen to some trash-can beating in the name of music. It is you fans who need to decide that whether you want to spend money for listening to new music or just want to go on listening to free stuffs available on internet. The entire industry revolves because you want it. All the bands, artists are there because you want them to be there singing for you and working years after years to write music. Only appreciation doesn’t pay bills. So either pay to appreciate or stand there and see them vanishing from our society.