Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Brasianbeats - Legal downloads

Brasianbeats - making Asian music legal to buy on the net

Text by Ashanti OMkar (www.omkari.net)
Photos by Akin Falope (www.aworan.net)

Moiz Vas of Brasian has been working on a dedicated covert mission, one that has launched to the UK public, to try and put an end to music piracy, especially for the Asian industry, where the record labels are small, nothing like the majors and the music is not easy to come by in a mainstream shop, hence making it so much easier for people to access the music, not to mention buy it and most of all, make it count towards the mainstream charts – a trend that has been penetrating into the markets in the last few years, with artistes like Raghav and Jay Sean. The time has come to allow others to also have a bite at the cake and hopefully put a stop to pirated copies of music albums that are currently sold on the streets of Southall, Wembley, and Green Street e.t.c

With the technology behind the site coming form the very popular US based Karmadownloads, one of the foremost independent music downloads sites, this is their very first specialist collaboration, which makes it another 1st for Brasian in the British Asian music industry, Brasian, who have not only got Asian music it’s very own all nighter in Glastonbury (the 1st time in 2004 and the second time in 2005), got the 1st Asian panel into the Urban Music Seminar and started the very 1st ring tone site, Brasianmobile. The aim ultimately is to take Asian music worldwide, with launches across the world in the following months.

Featuring artistes of many South Asian genres, the site already has some of the top British Asian artistes like Raghav, Nitin Sawhney, Juggy D, M.I.A, Swami, Rouge, Sona Family and Dr Zeus. This is only a small selection on what is available though, with the music transcending through India in its entirety, from Tamil and Telungu film songs, Carnatic (South Indian) Classical selections to popular Bollywood hits – it is all available on Brasianbeats – with downloads priced reasonably, for MP3 files which are substantially compatible across the board. 1 track costs 89p and albums ranging from £6.99 to £9.99 – very reasonably priced indeed. One can try before they buy, with high quality streaming clips available at a click, which makes the experience that much more satisfying and most of all, giving the Asian music lover, whatever their age group, options like they have never had before, just at a mouse click on their home PCs. With a growing range of music that is becoming available, Brasianbeats is the site to go to, for all your music needs, whether you like upcoming artistes and want to support them, or are a lover of the old classics. Moiz Vas took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about Brasianbeats and its implications.

What is your cultural background and heritage?

I am originally from India but I am most comfortable calling me self a British Asian (Br-Asian)

Your background in the music industry is immense; tell us about your rise within this tough industry to crack?

I am only cracking the industry - I have yet to crack it.... (Laughs)

Tell us about the thinking behind www.brasianbeats.com; what powers Brasianbeats? What's behind the website, in terms of technology (Karmadownloads) and who keeps it up to date and how powerful is the technology behind it?

Karmadownloads have helped us develop the Brasianbeats offering from a technology platform. They have a robust platform that is already delivering thousands of downloads to consumers around the world.

What is the difference between downloading the same track on Karmadownloads, as opposed to Brasianbeats?

Brasianbeats has entered into a cross promotional arrangement with Karmadownloads, particularly when it comes to certain artists that are likely to appeal to a much wider consumer audience than that defined by traditional Asian artists. Although there is no commercial difference between downloading on either side, fans who want to be kept up to date on what’s new on the Asian music front need to register with Brasianbeats.

How do you go about finding the sort of music listeners will download, for the site?

We are working closely with our music labels, their artists and popular online destinations to spread the word about the bb offering. Eventually we aim for music listeners to see us as a natural first choice and seek us out rather than the other way round.

What is the Brasianbeats Butterfly programme and how does that work?

The Brasian Beats team are extremely passionate about helping talented new artists gain a strong foothold in this competitive music industry. We firmly believe that the Brasian Beats platform will allow new unsigned artists to break through more quickly and with more confidence. We have developed an 'incubation programme' which provides access to some very valuable resources. You can find further information on www.brasianbeats.com - however, for selected artists this will include support in the form of cash and critical music industry resources (studio time through to management advice through to PR/marketing).

How do you service the millions of Asian Music fans worldwide, in terms of content?

The site already has the widest selection of Asian music available from a single source – everything from Bollywood to urban Asian to Bhangra and Indian classical music. We have already signed deals that will allow the number of artists and tracks to double again over the next few months providing even more choice to Asian consumers. Although we have initially launched in the UK, we will very quickly be rolling out to the US, Canada, South Africa and various other destinations. Browsers can locate their choice of music easily using a search engine by typing in artists or albums. Brasianbeats provides free samples for each and every track available on the web site

New artistes - how do you find them and allow for them to be promoted via the website?

Given our background in the music industry, we already have a lot of new artists approaching us and as the site gains popularity, we expect this trend to increase. The bb platform is a fantastic testing ground for new artists and if we believe they have the talent, we will be more than happy to promote them through the site and any other opportunities we are involved in.

Who are your music industry investors?

We would rather keep this confidential at this stage as we are in the process of raising some further funding to facilitate our expansion plans.

Which country would you say would bring you the biggest sales in the short term and do you see it taking off big time in places like India, where British Asian music is well liked and there are not many secure services to allow for legal downloads?

We will be launching in the US & Canada within the next couple of months and expect these regions to generate the biggest sales in the short term, although the UK is obviously an important market. Online penetration and e-commerce in India is still in its infancy but count on us being there when the time is right. .

How are you marketing it to the world? Big musicians like AR Rahman have commented on how versatile the site and the idea is - tell us more about this and about the music of people like AR Rahman, which is not so mainstream, maybe Bollywood centric - will you be catering for all those types of non-Brit-Asian downloads too?

We are not restricted to promote the South Asian artists, which are popular in the mainstream due to our independence structure. We are dedicated to all South Asian influenced music or music created by South Asians from the different regions worldwide.

Pricing - how did you fix the prices - how much is it for an album or Single? How do you feel the pricing strategy compares with the rest of the online legal downloads industry?

The prices are driven through a mixture of general download prices within the market and the content itself. Our aim is to always remain competitive while offering consumers exciting new material.

Any plans to affiliate with itunes for example, as they have immense popularity, especially for users of the ipod?

Not at this stage although may certainly work with them in the future. We are focussed on making sure we promote the best of Asian music to a fan base we know very well. We also want to maintain as open an approach as possible within the industry and therefore all our music is mp3 based and compatible across a wide range of devices. If you have paid for the download you should not be limited to where you can enjoy the music. You own it!

How do downloads from Brasianbeats contribute to the compilation of the UK singles/album charts?

The Official UK Charts Company now track the sales of music downloads from selected sites using an ISRC coding system which provides a finger print for digital downloads. The system does not require Asian record labels to make any special investment. This is fantastic news for Asian record labels because unit sales driven thru Brasianbeats are included in the sales data, which prepares the UK National Chart

How many tracks are there at the moment and how do you plan to expand, in terms of numbers of tracks, genres of music e.t.c. And what are your Targets?

Brasianbeats soft launches with 25,000 tracks and our target is to provide a catalogue of 100,000 tracks by the end of this year. We will be dedicated to expanding and providing the widest selection possible but what is equally important is keeping the service simple and easy to use.

Do you see anyone coming as competition to Brasianbeats.com in the near future and what makes you superior to any possible competitors?

Of course there will be competition although we are not aware of any specific offering that delivers the same range of content that we have. We have a very strong technology partner and we have very strong established roots within the music industry. Many of major labels and artists within the industry are keen to support us and see the Brasianbeats platform as an exciting part of their future plans. Watch this space… Based on this, we are confident that Brasianbeats will establish itself as the market leader on a global basis.

How do you feel about the BPI's investigation of Asian music and its illegal sampling habit? Do you see it affecting any of your projects? Do you see the BPI issue affecting Brasianbeats or Brasian mobile?

Not at all - we are 100% about promoting legal use of all music. All our agreements state clearly that music labels must ensure they have cleared rights for any music provided to us. However, where we are informed of any content on our site that infringes copyrights, we will investigate immediately and if necessary, remove the offending material from our site.