Who does this? Tips Music issued an odd statement last night dragging streaming service Gaana through the mud for not renewing its licensing arrangement with the label. Apparently the existing deal between the companies has fallen through and Tips’s catalogue will no longer be available on Gaana. That’s pretty much all the statement offers us by way of details. “During one of the worst crisis situation being faced by India & rest of the world it’s a sad & double whammy news for the millions of music lovers that India’s leading music app Gaana failed to renew its licensing deal with Tips and which has resulted in takedown of Tips’s content from the platform,” the statement said.

In a statement to MediaNama, Gaana CEO Prashan Agarwal said, “Given the high cost of royalties and demands of exorbitant minimum guarantees (with no linkage to revenues of music OTT players) by Tips and their music catalogue’s affinity with our customer base, it is not viable for us to pay them high royalties as demanded by them for their music on our platform. While we had the options of compulsory licensing and statutory licensing, we have currently taken a call not to go down that path to reduce our costs.” (full statement below)

Tips’s catalogue includes Bollywood albums from the late ’90s, with content from singers like Anu Malik and Ghulam Ali; the label also licenses rights to devotional songs.

It’s interesting that Tips is dangling the pandemic in front of Gaana to complain about what is essentially a business deal falling through. Tips isn’t a stranger to seeing licensing discussions go out of hand, though; in 2017, after negotiations between Airtel and Tips broke down over licensing, the telco invoked statutory licensing, a rare move, to claim rights to stream Tips songs by unilaterally paying a fixed fee. The Bombay High Court intervened, ruling in Tips’s favour, a decision Airtel is appealing. This, by the way, is the same tactic Spotify tried to pull with Warner Chappell, before pulling its suit after the Tips judgement and signing a global deal with the label. Gaana noted that this judgement was stayed by a division bench, and that to save costs it will not pursue this strategy.

Gaana has already removed Tips content, showing the following message when trying to access Tips songs. Though the message says the content is only available in India, Tips titles are not available here:

Gaana’s message for Tips content. This was accessed from an Indian internet connection, despite what the 404 message will have you believe.

Gaana is among India’s largest music streaming services, and received a US$115 million investment from Tencent and Times Internet in 2018. In February 2020, the service said it had 150 million monthly active users.

Here’s Tips’s full statement:

“Hit or Miss with Gaana” 

Indian music giant & one of India’s most admired Music company Tips Music songs will not be available on Gaana Music app anymore

During one of the worst crisis situation being faced by India & rest of the world it’s a sad & double whammy news for the millions of music lovers that India’s leading music app Ganna failed to renew its licensing deal with Tips and which has resulted in takedown of Tips’s content from the platform.

When asked Mr. Kumar Taurani managing director of Tips Music, he said “I am deeply saddened at these developments, we all believe universally that Music can heal the wounds and we tried to make it work but somehow we couldn’t reach a common ground. I am truly disappointed for crores of Music lovers & fans of Tips Music across the globe by this strange decision of Gaana.com.”

Since 1980, Tips Music has become one of India’s most commendably popular record label with a remarkable presence in the world of Music. With an exceptional run in Indian & Global markets over the last 4” [sic] years, Tips Music owns probably the most desirable collection of music ever created with currently the top trending artists like, Arijit Singh, Badshah, Atif Aslam, Diljit Dosanj, Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam, melodious Song form Anu Malik and Nadeem Sharvan. Having produced & distributed dozens of mega super hit films & created some of the most mesmerisingly cherished music for its millions of fans in India & Worldwide, its [sic] puzzling & baffling for music listeners to see Gaana Music not to extend contract with Tips Music Industries.

Gaana’s response:

“Given the COVID – 19 situation, it’s all the more important for all kinds of businesses to focus on building a sustainable economic model. Revenues have suffered across industries and the music streaming & broadcasting (OTT) industry is no different.

Given the high cost of royalties and demands of exorbitant minimum guarantees (with no linkage to revenues of music OTT players) by Tips and their music catalogue’s affinity with our customer base, it is not viable for us to pay them high royalties as demanded by them for their music on our platform. While we had the options of compulsory licensing and statutory licensing, we have currently taken a call not to go down that path to reduce our costs.

It is now more important than ever for the music label fraternity to realize that music OTTs have played a vital role in curbing piracy in the country and with high royalty rates they should not make a hole in the same bucket that they are eating from.” — Gaana CEO Prashan Agarwal