UPDATE (July 25): IPRS has withdrawn this order, and will be coming out with a new one soon with “rationalised” rates for sponsored and ticketed events, and no licensing requirement for free streams. Read our interview with IPRS CEO Rakesh Nigam on the subject here.

We missed this earlier: The Indian Performing Rights Society, a copyright society that has several musicians as members, will charge artists or organisers livestreaming performances a ₹20,000 fee, plus taxes, it announced earlier this month. The tariffs, which came into force on July 1 and apply to music as well as literary works, require fees to be paid to the IPRS even if an artist is performing without taking money from sponsors, or broadcasting the stream publicly without getting any revenue. If a sponsor is involved in the livestream, the fee jumps up to ₹60,000 plus taxes. If such streams go on for more than two hours, the cost jumps even more, to ₹1 lakh plus taxes.

Source: IPRS

Artists or organisers may also have to get separate licences for hosting a replay of the livestream, and if sponsors or ticketing is involved, they have to submit a list of the titles that were performed. IPRS said that these fees would be revised to catch up with inflation, using the Consumer Price Index as a reference point.

Impact on performers

Music and performance rights organisations around the world have been struggling, as have artists themselves, with a lack of income, as the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted live events in hard-hit places. The newly introduced IPRS royalties essentially slap a fat fee that may only be feasible for artists with significant audiences and sponsorship buttressing their online performances. The notification may also leave the door open to a situation where artists simply broadcasting on their personal social media accounts to their fan base get slapped with a fee that they may not be able to afford (plus a possible 30% penalty, if they don’t pay up beforehand).

This fee also risks a situation where an organisation that is supposed to protect artists’ rights and ensure they receive the royalties to which they are entitled to is instead empowered to charge them fees for performing their own music. In a message to members, a board member at the Indian Singers’ Copyright Association, Sanjay Tandon, noted that on top of these payments, artists or organisers could be liable to pay over ₹30,000 per song to the labels under whom the artists are performing, in what’s called a synchronisation fee.

Here’s Tandon’s full message, obtained by MediaNama:

Hi All

WRT the IPRS Tariff on “Online Virtual Concerts” I simplify it and present it in a lay-man language :

1. This is a new medium of exploitation for Composers & Songwriters and hence IPRS has released this Rate Card to collect Royalties for their Composers, Songwriters and Publisher Members.

2. IPRS will be clearing the “Performing Right” Royalty on behalf of its Members. Royalty must be paid for the Online Virtual Concert. Who pays it is immaterial – weather [sic] a Singer or Organiser or Manager or the client – Anyone. The fact is THAT CONCERT NEEDS TO BE PAID as pre the Grid RELEASED by IPRS.

3. If it is not paid, it will be infringement of the Composers & Songwriters Copyright and that can open the Concert to be sued or liable to be stopped mid-way or blocked by the Platform automatically and action as per Platforms norms will be initiated.

4. In addition to the IPRS Royalty to be paid, another License – “Sychronisation License” needs to be taken from the respective Music Label(s) on payment of additional Fees to them. My finding out reveals that such fees variates between Rs. 30,000/- to Rs. 50,000/- PER SONG.

5. The IPRS Tariff is :

For Free/Ad-supported /Ticketed Event without Sponsor for upto 2 hrs Rs. 20,000/-
For Free/Ad-supported /Ticketed Event without Sponsor for more than 2 hrs Rs. 30,000/-
For Ticketed Event with Sponsor/Sponsored Event for upto 2 hrs Rs. 60,000/-
For Ticketed Event with Sponsor/Sponsored Event for more than 2 hrs Rs. 1 lac

Are you an artist, platform, or music performance livestream organiser who has been affected by this fee? We want to hear from you. Reach us at aroon@medianama.com.