As per the industry experts, volumes have shredded to one tenth in the past decade

Piracy and digitalisation has hit the Rajasthan folk music industry hard. According to the industry stakeholders, the industry volumes have shredded to one tenth in the past decade.

“There were nearly 300 big and small music companies active in the state a decade ago, today less than dozen of them are in business,” KC Malu, of Veena Cassettes told. The digital music in early decade of 21st century had arrived as a blessing for the traditional music. Digitally recorded folk music assured better quality and access to music players helped spread the folk music. However, digital format also spurred mass piracy. Today, it is mostly being exchanged on memory cards.

“If piracy could be prevented, the industry will earn tremendous volume but in the absence of a robust network the companies are forced to cut down production cost in order to survive,” he adds.

According to industry sources, the cost of video production has also fallen drastically, directly impacting earnings for the local artistes. The situation is grim for smaller players.

“We are unable to recover even the amount we spend on the recording of musical tracks,” says Ravi Kasana of Dev Music, who was forced to sell the company.

So has been the fate of several others. “Our target audience is usually limited to cultural regions, the songs are in local dialect and thus the audience is limited to couple of neighboring district. The online channel model is also not very rewarding,” says folk music video producer, Gopal Natraj.

The Copyright Act provides some shelter from piracy. However for these small music companies, enforcement of the act is a tricky task. Few companies have ventured in this direction.

“The state government has issued directives against piracy and even the senior officials are cooperative. But lack of public awareness and apathy on the part of the local police station levels makes enforcement difficult,” says Kanhaiya Sharma of KS Music Securities.

Nearly 200 police cases get registered each year in state relating to piracy and unauthorised download of music. The number though is minuscule compared to the violation. “Downloading music has today become a local business, we try to convince such offenders to purchase license from companies concerned. We go for police exercise as last resort,” he says.

However, for small music companies pursuing police exercise and copyright cases are not viable options. In such a condition, a robust network is thus required to help artists prosper and keep industry alive or else soon despite its growing popularity the folk music will lose its tracks.