There was a time when record companies would only release music recordings on audio cassettes. Later, with the intervention of compact disks, record labels started releasing music recordings on compact disks as a replacement for cassettes.
Now, in the era of modern technology, YouTube has become the prime platform for fanbases to follow their beloved musicians. The top record companies of the country including Soundtek, CMV, G-Series, CD Choice, Dhruba Music Station, and many more have taken this opportunity to produce dramas alongside music – though receiving mixed audience reactions.
Some are of the opinion that the record companies should invest more on ameliorating the quality of Bengali music and promoting them. However, according to sources, record producers have leaned towards drama production for commercial purposes.
In this regard, The Business Standard spoke to Sultan Mahmud, owner of Soundtek. He said, "It has been six months since we started drama production. We produce one or two dramas every month, however, the quantity increases during festivals."
He elaborates the business purpose and the interest behind drama productions, "Because of the short duration of a song, it is hard to get advertisements. However, there is a good chance of getting advertisements during dramas which adds to the producers' income."
Sk Shahed Ali Pappu, owner of CMV agreed with Sultan Mahmud, "Music videos are loss projects. Dramas are longer in length and they bring in more advertisements."
He mentioned that CMV had been buying digital rights of dramas since 2018 and they even produced a web-series. Now, they are directly involved with drama production. Pappu said, "We started out in full force and in the meantime, we have signed a television deal with Banglavision as well. Our dramas are aired on Banglavision first and then we upload the dramas on our YouTube channel. This helps reducing financial risks."
Asked if this recent interest in drama production has seized opportunities from new musicians, he said, "Not at all. We belong to the music industry; we are producing dramas only to sustain music production."
Dhruba Guha, singer and owner of Dhruba Music Station, said, "YouTube is the biggest medium used for publishing music recordings and videos. The available video streaming sites and applications are not popular among users and the income is very low. We cannot even cover up the cost of production for music records and videos. In order to sustain the business, we are inclined towards drama production. First of all, we have to survive."
Audio production companies are producing dramas in two ways; for television channels and buying digital rights to dramas. Most of the times, they finalise the plot, cast, and directors for the dramas on their own. In this case, actors who are top-rated on YouTube are being prioritised in term of drama production.
However, Selim Khan, owner of the production house Sangeeta, thinks that the association between record production and drama production is out of place. He said, "I do not think it is right for music producers to shift to drama production. This will create an identity crisis among such producers. Music lovers can never do such a thing. Having said that, it is true that we cannot survive by just producing songs."
Selim Khan suggests two ways to sustain the business. He first asked of the hit singers to consider reducing their remuneration. Secondly, he stated that government sponsorship is imperative to save Bangladesh's music industry.
Referring to songs from the old days, he said, "A song never gets old, good songs last for ages. People love listening to such music. But I do not think people watch a drama more than once. This is why, instead of focusing on drama production, we should be focusing on producing more records."