Saturday, June 13, 2015

Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein - Part 1

I was working for a pharmaceutical company and posted as Manager in Ahmedabad for two years - 1989 to 1991. Those days were quite turbulent, one, on my professional front, because I was trying to make inroads into a very tough pharmaceutical market, and second on the political front. Those days were of unrest, and riots during the time of Lalkrishna Advani's Ram Rath Yatra. I saw the horrors of mindless killing, and mob fury first-hand. During Diwali, rarely now, but I still wake up from deep sleep in the middle of the night thinking there is police firing going on somewhere.

This was also a period of turmoil in the music industry. In July 1990, the film Aashiqui was released and became a super duper hit. But the credit for its success goes to its music, which was released in 1989 by Gulshan Kumar. This is a story in itself.

Coming from a humble background, Gulshan Kumar began his career in the music industry by producing cheap cassettes of music of older hit films. With no clearly defined Intellectual Property Rights, Gulshan Kumar rose quickly and made millions. In 1990, film music was very expensive to buy. If I remember right, an original music cassette used to cost anywhere between Rs.75 to Rs.150 and was not affordable to many. So the pirated music cassettes industry flourished. We used to get a C60 or a C90 cassettes of pre-recorded songs, for about Rs.100, and could get a customized cassettes with a choice of our songs for about Rs.150.

This was the time when Gulshan Kumar's T-Series exploded on the scene. He sold the cassettes of Aashiqui to consumers at Rs.28! You went anywhere, you could hear Aashiqui songs played, just like the Qurbani music earlier in 1980. Remember, there was no Internet from where you could download music, and computers were not common at all. An original cassette at Rs.28 turned the music industry upside-down, disrupted the existing market. But it did bring music to the common man at a much much cheaper price.

This is one of the game changers in the music industry, and hence the media world too. It is an important lesson in Media Economics. You never know when the river of revenue will change its path, creating a new course to flow, flooding everything existing.

I can't end this blog post without Aashiqui, which gave us affordable music. Here's a link to the song on YouTube.

Meri umar ke naujavanon, relive your past. Enjoy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXbSZFNBvvE