Bengal music industry to protest Music World closure

Kolkata, June 14 (IANS) Hundreds of musicians, technicians and artists from West Bengal are set to participate in a protest against piracy, digitisation and indiscriminate Internet music download June 20 here in the wake of Music World deciding to shut its landmark store in the hep and stylish Park Street.

The decision by top singers and audio companies to organise a protest comes in the aftermath of the "shocking" disclosure that India's premier music retail franchisee Music World's biggest outlet at Park Street will be downing its shutters July 1.

"A lot of top artists, including Usha Uthup, have shown interest. It will be a protest against all the issues like piracy, digitisation and internet download affecting music industry," a spokesperson of Asha Audio told IANS.

The music fraternity is likely to gather at the Press Club, Kolkata, June 20 to voice their protest over the closure of the outlet, which has since 1997 hosted a plethora of music launches, and promotions drawing milling crowds.

A treasure trove of multilingual CD sets and DVDs spanning old classics to latest hits, the store also allowed one to enjoy his chosen genre of music for free, irrespective of any purchases.

The 16-year-old music hub, owned by RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, had been hit hard by "the onset of digitization of music and shift in consumer preferences towards music and video downloads," according to Sanjay Gupta, the group's corporate head marketing.

"Music World has for the last 16 years been India's premier music and home video retail chain. However, in the last few years, the onset of digitization of music and shift in consumer preferences towards music and video downloads has rendered the business model unviable. We are therefore exiting this business," said Gupta.

Sales in Music World had dropped to more than 50 percent in the last 18 months.

"We had promotions for our band Cactus there a few times. It is shocking. But nowadays everything happens so fast that after a while this will cease to be a big thing," Sibaji "Baji" Paul, Cactus's drummer, told IANS.

Stalwarts like singer Haimanti Shukla feel protests will not make an impact.

"I am extremely sad. It is a management decision, but the industry has been hit hard by piracy and Internet download. I don't think this is going to stop. I don't think protests will have an effect," Shukla told IANS.

Violinist Durbadal Chatterjee points out that street-side stalls selling pirated CDs must go, else the menace of piracy will prevail and people will stop going to shops stocking originals.

"There are so many stalls on the footpaths selling cheap CDs. People are lured by the cheap price that is why. However, they stop playing after a few days. Action must be taken against these stalls else these will affect business," Chatterjee told IANS.

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