The golden days are over! The days when the music industry resounded with competing albums and songs are now in the past. New albums would be released and hit songs would rock every corner of the country. That is all a memory now.
It used to be the custom for people to buy records, cassettes and CDs during Eid, not just new clothes and shoes. That was part of the festival fun! Now, the Eid comes and goes, clothes are bought, and roses sell by the dozen in various festivals, but a sound of silence reigns in the realm of recorded music!
Music album producers blame YouTube, iTunes, and the Internet for the downturn of in the music market. Many of the producing houses have already shut down. The volume of business in the biggest producing houses like Soundtek, Sangita and CMV has shrunk.
‘It is all a past glory’, the music production houses chorus in unison.
Popular singers Syed Abdul Hadi, Subir Nandi, Andrew Kishore, Tapan Chowdhury, Kumar Biswajit, Momtaz, Shubhro Dev, Samina Chowdhury, Baby Nazneen, Dolly Shayantoni, Kanak Champa and Akhi Alamgir have played a significant role to draw music lovers to the market over the past three decades.
Later Bappa Majumder, Asif Akbar, Monir Khan, SD Rubel, Atik Hassan, Mehrin, Kaniz Suborna, Tishma, Tahsan, Habib, Kona, Mila, Nancy and others carried on the legacy.
Albums of the bands Souls, Miles, Renaissance, Feedback, LRB, Nagarbaul, Prometheus, Dalcchut and solo albums of Ayub Bacchu, James, Hassan, and Biplob were hot items in the music market.
Music lovers used to wait for their new albums and songs to hit the market. But most of the popular singers have not released any solo album over the past two years. No mixed albums were released in the recent past. The number of new albums of bands is close to zero.
Why? Have people stopped listening to music?
Producers, composers, artistes and vendors have differing views.
Mohammad Noman, a music album vendor at the Mouchak Anarkali Market, had 20 years of experience in music album retail.
He said there were 12 album and music CD shops in the area. Now there is only one.
He continued on with the business despite a steady loss. He has recently switched to selling clothes too.
Popular singer Andrew Kishore said people’s habits have changed. Times have changed too.
“I’m a professional singer. I do not have that mental strength to continue if producers don’t want me. It’s true that we are not working, but Habib, Hridoy Khan and Pritom are doing good in the industry.”
Why does a producer hesitate to record albums?
Owner of the Laser Vision Mazharul Islam said, “The profit turnout is often less than even half of the investment.”
“People are downloading music from free sites. So how can we invest in the industry?” he asked.
Owner of the Soundtek, Sultan Mahmud said, “We consider the sales turnout before recoding any album. Meanwhile, we have started to release digital versions of the music.”
Asif Akbar is a popular singer, but has released no new album during this past Eid.
Asif said, “Making a CD album with ten songs is absurd in this digital age.”
Prince Mahmud, who was one of popular composers in the 1990s, doesn’t think so. He said, “I still receive good response after releasing a new album. I’m still working as a pro.”
Despite the intrusion of the online age, Prince added, young people still search for new albums.
Referring to release of the Shubhro Dev’s ‘Jalchhabi’ album in 2014, he said, “The album was popular. Those who love music still buy music albums as these have archival value.”
Song writer Asif Iqbal said people do not have that much time to listen to 10 songs at a time as they are busier than in the past.
The music market has changed. In the past, a singer dictated the graph of people’s choices, but now listeners are in charge as there are endless options in front of them.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla print edition, has been rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam