‘Recognition of the artiste fraternity and intellectual property rights will help align the music industry to international standards’ – Shamir Tandon

Music composer Shamir Tandon shot into the limelight with films like Page 3 where he had Asha Bhosle croon ‘Huzoor-e-Aala’ and Lata Mangeshkar sing ‘Kitne Ajeeb Rishten Hai Yahaan Ke’. But Tandon’s resume talks about his decade long association with EMI Virgin where he started off as a marketing manager before quitting his job as the CEO of the company to pursue his love for music.


Currently, Tandon is composing film as well as non-film music apart from consulting venture capitalists for setting up a music and entertainment company.




What prompted you to quit a job as the CEO of a multinational company like EMI Virgin and venture into composing music?

The success of my music in films like Page 3, Corporate and the response to upcoming films like Madhur Bhandarkar’s Traffic Signal prompted me to take this step.


Will you miss the perks and pleasures that come with working for a multinational?

Having spent 15 years in the corporate world, of which the last three years were as head of EMI Virgin, there were of course perquisites and pleasures galore and another year or two in the company would have got me the lifestyle of playing golf, extensive globe trotting, power lunches etc. But the immense attraction of creativity overtook the perks of living life king size.


Was it not the lure of money in music that prompted you to quit?

Not at all. There isn’t much money for creators of music in India as there is in the other parts of the world. The annual earnings of a normal music director in India is what I would have made in a quarter in the corporate world. Needless to say that there are no securities or fancy bonuses, provident fund gratuity et al. In fact, I am starting from scratch in the music world. Another thing that’s missing in music production is the pride of having a 50-100 odd people reporting to you. But the seduction of music is much above mundane pleasures.


What were your highpoints as CEO of Virgin?

I was involved in setting up the company, which is one of the only companies in the last four years to be profitable. While others in the music industry were in the red, we managed to keep our heads above the water. Also we were one of the first companies to diversify into artiste management and make corporate alliances and pioneered corporate alliances as one of the major revenue streams.


Marrying international music with Bollywood was another milestone, which widened the market for English music in the country, examples being the UK boyband Blue collaborating with Shaan for the song ‘One Love’ featuring Abhishek Bachchan and Bipasha Basu in the film Rakht. This made Blue’s album touch four times Platinum. Also Jay Sean featuring in Ekta Kaooor’s Kya Kool Hai Hum, which took up the artiste’s sales up by 300 per cent.


What kind of expertise from your executive life will you bring into revolutionizing music?

Apart from a lot of corporate governance and meticulous discipline one of the major areas that one would like to visit is recognition for the artiste fraternity, their intellectual property rights that are in a state of disarray. This will enable us to align the industry to global norms and have its due place among the international community of music and musicians.


There is a lot of intro-fighting within the music industry due to the alienation of T-Series and Yash Raj from the rest of the IMI and PPL. Comment.

There is a lot of benefit in collective bargaining and the industry needs to have a unified stance on macro issues with the government like excise, taxes, import duties, recognition of rights etc. However, every company is entitled to have its own viewpoint and operate in its own way to be in a healthy competitive environment.


Hence in my opinion for matters that affect music and the music industry, it is important not only for all the record labels to stay together but also all its allies like the artistes (lyricists, composers, singers), radio, music/entertainment and television, to be under a single umbrella in order to create a healthy level playing field.


You are presently also consulting for a new entertainment company. Can you provide us with some details about the same?

It is primarily a niche music entertainment boutique that will focus on creating quality audio video content and exploitation of the same on digital medium apart from all the conventional channels. It will also make a modest attempt at recognizing artiste rights and give them their due share.


I can part with more information in October, when we are ready to launch.

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