Swanand Kirkire and Varun Grover wage a war, fight for lyricists’ credit on streaming platforms and music apps
Lyricists such as Swanand Kirkire and Varun Grover have been coming and speaking up against the online streaming platforms and music apps not either crediting the lyricist, or their algorithms being such that a song cannot be searched by their names, while it’s not the case with singers and music composers.
After nepotism and favouritism, another debate seems to be in the making in Bollywood. Recently, songwriter-singer Swanand Kirkire tweeted, “OTT pe lyricists ka naam na hona sirf credit ka na hona nahin hain balki Lyrics Writer ke Wajood ko na maanana hai.. they don’t acknowledge as the creators/artists @spotifyindia @spotify @AppleMusic @JioSaavn”.
Last year, the Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) filed an FIR against a leading production house seeking around ₹100 crore due in royalties to several music composers and writers since 2012. Danish Javed, of the Screen Writer’s Association says they’ll complain. “If lyricists get their name on a publishing platform, as a member of the IPRS they get part of the royalty,” he says.
We got in touch with some prominent lyricists on this
SWANAND KIRKIRE (3 Idiots, Barfi!, Lage Raho Munnabhai)
The problem is, we are fighting two things: one the music companies and big labels put songs on YouTube, and don’t give proper credits. This is a common practice, they forget. Nobody says anything, and it keeps going on. They don’t get back when we point out. Some platform did get back recently saying ‘thanks for bringing to our notice’. They didn’t even say it was a mistake. Now coming to apps, they don’t credit the lyricists anywhere in their algorithm. The problem is, you cannot search a song by a lyrics writer’s name. You can search the music director’s name. Apart from some random play lists someone made for like Sahir Ludhianvi (there won’t be anything). I can search the songs I have sung, because I am a singer too. I get detailed history what’s happening with my song, how many people are streaming it, which state or country they belong to, lyricists have no way to find that out.
VARUN GROVER (Gangs of Wasseypur, Fan, Udta Punjab)
I have been talking about it for years now. Many official channels on YouTube, and music company channels of Eros, Sa Re Ga Ma, Shemaroo, Ultra, many of them which have music as a business, they don’t credit lyrics writers, or they give wrong credit sometimes. We keep compiling, we have a list of these song credits. We are still new and been working for eight-nine years, I am talking about Gulzar, unka credit nahi hai on official YouTube channels. Javed Akhtar. Shailender, these legends have credits missing on YouTube channels. Coming to apps,what happens is, they pick their data from music companies who provide them their libraries. In their library itself, they don’t have the lyricist’s name written! The thing with some apps is they work on the American mode, where they think the composer is the songwriter. They don’t even have space for lyric credits in their software. You can’t search if you want to see all songs of Javed Akhtar, but if you want to search Arijit Singh, it will show all songs.
SAMEER ANJAAN (Aashiqui, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dhoom 3)
The Screen Writer’s Association is taking a big step because I think people do this knowingly. They have a huge nexus and intention behind not keeping the writer or composer’s name, because then the royalties will not go in the right place, and that will give benefit to people involved in this. But now we are trying our level best to make them (apps) aware, if they are smart enough to start giving credit. Then we will take legal action.
Also, last year’s biggest hit Dilbar Dilbar (Satyameva Jayate), in a leading publication, it was written on the front page ‘Music by Tanishq Bagchi, lyrics by Shabbir Ahmed’ when originally the song was by Nadeem Shravan, and lyrics by me. Shabbir had written only one line in the beginning, rest of the song was original. How can they do this injustice? It’s very important to take this ahead, only then a solution will come up.
SHELLEE (Shahid, Manmarziyaan, Jawaani Jaaneman)
I wrote a song in 2014 Beparwah for Shahid. Why is my name missing on YouTube? People comment ‘soulful lyrics’ but my name is missing! How humiliating is that. There’s a rule: if the name is missing, the royalties from the song won’t come to you, be it YouTube or music apps. Unlike abroad, we don’t have the rights. These music apps have a different algorithm. If we are given our credits, we will start getting the royalty. But what about the royalties of the past? We don’t do any gigs or concerts like singer, who get paid Rs 40 lakhs sometimes. We just get paid peanuts once, and there are negotiations, and nothing after that. Then we have to resort to doing other things like dialogue and script writing to earn extra moolah.
Even if the spelling of your name is wrong, you won’t get royalty. IPRS controls the domestic royalties, we need more transparency in that too.
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