Soundtek, one of the major record labels of the country began its journey back in 1992. Since then, the label has released many songs in audio cassettes and in CDs . But when video contents got popular in youtube, and eventually, a good number of artists started releasing their music online, the business of Soundtek went southward.
In order to sustain their business, Soundtek also opened a youtube channel from which they would release songs and music videos of popular musicians and bands.
However, releasing only music proved not that lucrative for Soundtek. So they ventured into a new avenue: focusing on making dramas. In 2017, Soundtek Natok was launched on YouTube. In the beginning, the company bought dramas from various production houses, but later they started producing dramas.
Like Soundtek, many record labels prefer to make dramas in recent years. The list of such record labels includes G-Series, CD Choice, Dhruba Music Station, CMV Music, among others.
What's the reason behind this transition? Why do record labels prefer making commercial dramas?
Sultan Mahmud, owner of Sountek told The Business Standard that it is now near to impossible to sustain in the industry by only producing music. "That's why we have started making dramas in the last two or three yeras."
Soundtek usually produces around two or three dramas every month. However, the rate of production goes up during any festival, he said.
There are, however , mixed reactions to such transitions of record labels, among the music industry experts. Many people believe record labels should focus on music, to promote Bangla music and songs. But, the record labels say they had to take this route for financial reasons.
An owner of a record label who preferred to be unnamed told The Business Standard that labels were bleeding for long, as they needed to invest a lot of money for a song, starting from investing in a lyricist to a music director and of course on the singer.
Then they also needed to pay for the music video and its promotional material. After going through all these hassles, there is however no guarantee that the song would be a hit every time. It has become risky for the labels, for which they are compelled to make dramas, said the owner.
He said there is less risk in making dramas, as making one requires one-time investment. On top of that, if the drama gets aired on TV, the houses get paid from that. And when it comes on YouTube, you can find a title sponsor. It is also possible to get advertisements for dramas from YouTube. These days, it is possible to earn easily and fast from dramas compared to producing songs or albums.
"That's why everybody wants to make dramas commercially," he said.
Founder of CMV Music, SK Shahed Ali Pappu echoed the same sentiments. In an interview with The Business Standard, he said, "Music video is a loss project, YouTube pays for the duration of the dramas."
CMV Music used to buy the rights of dramas before; now they produce web-series. CMV is also involved with making sponsored content for television channels, which earn them revenue.
Owner of one of the old record labels, G-series, Nazmul Haque Bhuiyan, popularly known as Khaled, shared his insights on the issue.
He said, "During this Eid holiday, we produced around 40 dramas which are being uploaded slowly on our official YouTube channel. We have been producing dramas for a long time, it is a survival strategy for us."
We asked him whether the current situation is blocking the doorways for newcomer singers, he said, "No, I don't think so."
Musician Dhurba Gruha, the owner of Dhurba Music Station, said, "YouTube is a big platform to release music in our country now. But we can't earn back the invested money in producing songs and music videos from YouTube. Hence, we are producing dramas because, at the end of the day, surviving in the industry is the main target now. And if the labels don't survive, everything will be lost."