Amaal Mallik: Musicians are being forced to make substandard songs
Composer Amaal Mallik says musicians are forced to sign ‘illegal contracts’ and singers are asked to sing scratches for free, thanks to increased corporate involvement
I don’t fear being a human first. I in fact prioritise it. It’s too short a life to think so much,” says music composer Amaal Mallik as he explains his rather impulsive and frequent outbursts on social media. One of his many outbursts was when, last month, Mallik lashed out at Salman Khan fans on Twitter, after they trolled the 30-year-old singer-composer for saying that Shah Rukh Khan was his favourite actor, despite the fact that Salman Khan gave Mallik his first break in the industry.
“I don’t understand why it is a crime to voice that. Am I hurting an ego? If yes, what should change? Me hurting one, or those fans keeping one when their own superstar asks them to not behave this way? Fair question to ask,” says Amaal, explaining “why an artist” should always voice their opinion.
“I have known how difficult artists find it to make ends meet because I’ve seen it happen at home. It’s what led me to always voice my opinion against any sort of injustice that I think can be rectified.”
Recently, Mallik, in form of an Insta story, called out the music industry, for giving “no royalties or budgets to the creators”. Mallik says, barring “a small cream of people” who claim that things are “changing for the better” in the industry, most artists aren’t even aware about their rights as creators.
“As far as the IPRS and Royalties issue goes, half of the creators I’ve had a chat with don’t even exactly know how this functions. They don’t seem to know their own rights and what they’re justified in asking for,” he says adding that until six years back, “not one song on any label” from India credited the music producers, the live musicians or the recording and mixing engineers, which, according to Mallik, is why, there aren’t many international collaborations.
“Musicians from outside India don’t work with us easily because we have no royalties for the musicians or the music producers in our country. We work on a buy out system. Music is a team effort and all of us, including musicians and programmers/producers, are also the backbone of a song along with the authors.”
While the 30-year-old feels that the “seniors hopefully” are getting their “master royalties” for their film or non film projects”, he rues, newer musicians are falling prey to ethically and legally questionable demands by the film producers and music labels.
An artist is left two options, according to Amaal. “You either go jobless or meet that substandard demand and release songs which even you know deep down aren’t good enough,” he says.
Explaining this further he says, that a “film producer or label”, after putting in a certain amount of money and setting a release date, come with “preconceived musical ideas” where they “themselves do not wish for the song” to have a “shelf life” beyond two months. “They look to earn from every possible means in those 60 days and never bother about that song thereafter. Hence, what is approved, is substandard and the quality automatically drops,” says Mallik.
So, waving off your rights as an artists, especially when one is just entering the scene, Amaal reveals has become a rite of passage. “It is a sorry state of affairs. I wasn’t aware of these things initially and several composers fall prey to illegal contracts and false promises but that’s how we all get a break initially, so sadly it’s considered okay to do these things at the brink of your career,” he says.
“Music composers have to do scratches, almost fully produced tracks, without any compensation so that a director producer and label can bank it or put it in their film, but that cost is going from the composers’ own pocket. Singers in turn too, are forced to sing scratches for free and are given the usually false incentive, ‘Aapko break de rahe hain’,” he adds.
He also feels that upcoming musicians, are partly to be blamed as well for always being at the receiving end of corporate politics, due the lack of unity present within themselves. “If an upcoming composer singer lyricist or music producer doesn’t waive off their rights, some one else is always ready to give in and immediately you are replaced. If I don’t agree some one else will as there’s hardly any unity within the music scene,” he says.
Acknowledging the mafia-like behaviour of music labels, Mallik feels that “right now its a dog eat dog industry” which has made them, as an industry, “succumb” to “short term success” over longevity, not knowing, that latter will earn “us the buck” for a longer time and “the math” will be the same or even more. “Now, it’s tough to ask someone to live with a piece or art and let it grow on you. I have nothing against groupism, but at least make sure what you create stands a chance to meet with some quality,” he says.
“If an artists’ community showcases cohesiveness, no so called mafia, and trust me it’s not one label or production house, it’s all of them, but, nobody can ever penetrate and swing things if artists are united. It’s a matter of perspective but I guess that will eventually give way to quality and in turn, business,” he signs off.
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