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Sony signs up Warner, hopes to up market share to 25%

The deal to distribute the latter's many labels will make the Indian partner a large player in international music and come closer to competitor T-series

Urvi Malvania  |  Mumbai 

Sony Music

Sony Music Entertainment India has entered a strategic licensing deal with Warner Music Group that will arm it with added muscle-power in the Indian music industry. It will become the representative of Warner Music's recording artists' releases and labels in India, Sri Lanka and the other SAARC countries. The deal allows Sony Music to make Warner's catalogue available to consumers through physical sales, digital download, streaming and a variety of mobile services.

Through this deal, Sony music will have close to 25 international artistes in its kitty including the likes of Eric Clapton, Bruce Sprinsteen, Elvis Presley, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Shakira, Justin Timberlake and Pitbull among others, making its catalogue amongst the largest globally and the largest in India for international music. Between the two of them, they will have a healthy mix of new and old artistes.

Shridhar Subramaniam, president (India and Middle East), Sony Music says, "The international music category is highly under-represented in India. Luckily, with the boom in digital media, we are no longer at a time when people had only 300 to 400 shops across India to get international music."

Stu Bergen, president, international, Warner Recorded Music, says, "The rapid growth of the market in India creates great potential for our international roster and catalogue, so it was important for us to find a partner with the market knowledge and relationships with local retailers and media partners to help unlock that."

The licensing deal also helps Sony Music to get closer to competitor T-series in India. Currently, the two are the leading music labels in the country, but T-series has a definite edge given its legacy of producing Bollywood and devotional music. Sony hopes to ramp up its market share to 25 per cent from the current 20 per cent. T-series currently holds 27 per cent market share.

The music industry is estimated to be Rs 800 crore, of which international music accounts for Rs 120 crore. The category is growing at 10 to 12 per cent a year. The combined catalogue of the two labels will help Sony Music ramp up its share in the international music category from 35 per cent to an estimated 55 per cent over the next 6 months.

Subramaniam explains, "Considering the increase in the penetration of mobile Internet and the downloads on smartphones, we plan to market the Warner portfolio aggressively to tap into our strong digital distribution network. In fact, our robust presence across digital platforms is one of the main reasons Warner chose us as licensing partners."

Sixty per cent of sales for Sony Music happen via the digital medium, while physical sales account for 25 per cent and 15 per cent comes from licensing and merchandising sales.

He further says while the distribution of the combined catalogue will happen together, the for the Warner and Sony library will be different. The idea is to have competitive between the two labels and for this, Sony will be hiring a new team which will handle only the Warner portfolio.

First Published: Wed, December 11 2013. 21:40 IST