It is a war of sorts between a bunch of Bollywood’s A-list singers and leading record labels.
Singers Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal, led by Sonu Nigam, have refused to sign contracts with music labels that do not give them a share of royalty for the songs they sing. High drama unfolded on Friday when Sonu Nigam tweeted that he may give up singing in Bollywood because of ‘unfair’ contracts, after he refused to sign a contract for Shekhar Suman’s Heartless, the music right of which is with T Series. “It (such a contract) is feudal, humiliating and illegal,” he tweeted.
The 40-year-old later told us, "Shaan, Shreya (Ghoshal) Sunidhi (Chauhan), sab log pareshaan hai. Sunidhi was asked too and she has refused to sign it."
Alleging that singers are often forced to sign these ‘illegal’ contracts, Nigam says, “There are a lot of illegal contracts floating in the business. Companies are pressurising artists to sign some illegal contracts."
Music label owners deny these allegations. "They’re misinterpreting the law. We sign the contracts with the film producers, not the singers. Do we ask them for money when they perform live and make money from the music that does not belong to them, except their own voice in it?" asks Bhushan Kumar of T-Series.
Sonu Nigam, singer: Zabardasti kisi ko sign kara rahe hai kabhi kamre me band karke kabhi kisiko dhamkake, which is not good and this is not how things work. They (music labels) are forcing the younger singers saying, ‘we will ruin your career’. They are trying every trick to get us to sign the contracts.
Singer and composer Vishal Dadlani: I think a musician of the calibre and popularity of Sonu Nigam, being made to feel so oppressed, is in itself a sign of how oppressive these contracts are.
Singer Arijit Singh: Yes, a system is required for fair distribution of royalty. Everyone should read the law and a solution should come out through discussions by both parties.
Singer Kailash Kher: Sonuji has taken a bold stand. And he is right. Imagine, these bad people are taking away our creativity and our originality and not even giving us due for that.
Tips Music Owner Kumar Taurani: There is a lot of confusion about the law. And at the end of the day, no one can force you to sign a contract.
T-Series owner Bhushan Kumar: Sonu was launched by my father and this is how he respects us.