To acknowledge or not to acknowledge? – Back to back on radio

“Sirf hungama khada karna mera maqsad naheen, Saari koshish hai ke ye soorat badalni chahiye” 

(Quoted from Dushyant Kumar’s – “Ho gai hai peer parvat si, pighalni chaahiye”.

To me, it seems to be a fairly simple issue. A huge chunk of content played on FM Radio in India consists of music, and yet, a cursory tuning in to several FM channels seems to suggest that on many occasions, songs are played “back-to-back”, that is, with no announcements or acknowledgements to artistes in between. I am not an avid listener of FM channels, but had ample opportunity to do so in the last few days, and found that I was unfamiliar with many of the songs played on radio. I couldn’t help wondering why there was no information at all about the music- singer, composer, lyricist, film, album. Just nothing at all. It seemed rather unfair and unethical, specially given the fact that station IDs, RJ IDs and jingles kept playing every now and again .

The right to be identified as the author of a work is a moral right, and integral to the idea of protecting the rights of authors. Why then are we denying our artistes this basic right on FM radio ? Is it unreasonable to expect this basic courtesy from a medium as powerful as radio? I decided to post about the issue on Twitter yesterday morning, and lo and behold – soon there was quite a flutter about the issue ! Opinions seemed divided and threw up the following points of view:

1. Some responses indicated that listeners would prefer less talk and more music, and hence no acknowledgements to artistes as everyone already has the information anyway. Well, I’d say that’s not entirely true because there could be more people like me who didn’t have the information about new tracks. And even if I were a veritable walking encyclopedia on the music on FM stations, composers and lyricists and performers still need to be acknowledged. Why? Simply because they happen to be the people who wrote the lyrics, composed, arranged, produced, performed, recorded etc etc. There would be no song for you to listen to had it not been for the artistes. Besides, the less-talk-and-more-music theory doesn’t hold good, because there still was plenty of chatter and babble about everything else under the sun, with the exception of information about the music.

2. Then there were the indignant RJs and channel heads who insisted that they always acknowledge all artistes. I duly re-tweeted their posts, because I confess that I haven’t been watch-dogging every single channel and every single show, and hence there could well be shows and channels that are meticulous about crediting artistes.

And there were also suggestions that artistes should reciprocally be thanking RJs and channels who religiously acknowledge the creators of tracks they play. Well yes, as a manner of speech, saying thank you would be polite and correct and fine. But in acknowledging artistes, RJs and channels are not doing any one a favor, and I duly beg pardon if this offends anyone. On the contrary, I believe that acknowledgements are part of basic courtesy and fair practice, and a special pat on the back is not required for anyone who does what they should be doing anyway as part of their regular duties.

3. And finally, there were opinions that seemed to suggest that acknowledging artistes is old-fashioned and part of the bygone era of AIR days. Old fashioned or not, acknowledgments must be provided and should it be considered fashionable to not mention credits, how about FM stations becoming duly fashionable and not mentioning station IDs every few minutes?

Jokes, jibes, and Twitter-borne advice apart, acknowledgements are necessary because as I mentioned earlier, it is the moral right of an author to be identified as the author of an artistic work. Besides, radio stations must already have all the information in their logs, or how else would royalties and broadcasting fee and license fee for artistes be collated, calculated and dues disbursed by collecting societies ?  But basically, if logs are maintained then it should not be difficult for FM channels to collate information about lyricists, composers, performers for each track they play. But heaven help us all if these logs are not maintained or referred to. I am not privy to log sheets maintained by FM channels but to explain further, I am sharing a scan of two royalty income distribution sheets I received from IPRS years ago. Take a look:

That old and frayed piece of paper that I have preserved says many stories for those who want to hear them.

I must stress that radio is a powerful medium, and one that has and can continue to have a far reaching impact on its listeners. Not so long ago, bands across the world would release their singles and albums on radio. What impact would these releases have had if the artistes themselves were not acknowledged properly? No question about it, the creators of a track need to be acknowledged. And it isn’t me who is saying so. It is the law of the land that states this quite clearly and unambiguously.


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Shubha Mudgal

Shubha Mudgal


  •    Reply

    I support your stand. RJs should definitely mention singer/composer/film/album title like they do on All India Radio.

    However, most modern studios are digitally programmed to serve songs and ads after 10 pm. Its unlikely that any radio channel will do the needful pre recording of artist credits.

    I have been listening to FM radio since 2002..(after radio mirchi was launched) barring a few exceptions, i havent heard RJ’s giving due credit.

  •    Reply

    I am glad that this comes from an artist perspective. Where once I was indignant to play a certain Indi-rock band when they failed to acknowledge you, Shubha maam.
    That apart, having dabbling with radio since the last 10 years and teaching it in an Australian University, it is never out-dated or old-fashioned to give artist credits. Agreed format radio is different than the old styled format on the 80s but the arguement stands for all manned radio hours. In other words, songs on radio need to be pre-announced and back-sold.
    Current day FM channels are rather fishmongering squares and basic radio hygiene is regularly compromised.

  •    Reply

    I hqve worked in radio from 1981 to 2004 ….and we always announced singers , lyricists and music directors….as for the producers….it was recorded in the log and they got their credit…I am also deeply pained by all that the FM channels do with no respect for the artists….I guess the radio channels dont deal with this part of respecting the creators…!

  •    Reply

    I am from ALL INDIA RADIO ….i know how much we respect musicians….artists….we were artists too (we were paid as staff artists with no promotions) ….as in language news and feature producers for many years….we know how new FM culture has forgotten the past !!

  •    Reply

    I agree with Shubha mam. I am listening radio since long time;as an IT professional listening music while work is a part of my day. At times when we used to listen Vividha Bharti and Apki Pasand on radio; the names of music directors, singers, movie names are mentioned before playing the song. Now a days its not followed on all radio stations, some of them mention in particular shows/some of them do not mention it. Yeah but it should be followed by every stations because its always good to respect and acknowledge ones work and also increase your musical quotient :-).

  •    Reply

    they are statutorily required to mention these names of the lyricists, composers, playback singers. this finds mention in section 31D(5) of the Indian Copyright Act which deals with statutory licence for broadcasting of literary and musical and sound recording and provides that the names of authors and the principal performer’s of the work shall, except in case of broadcasting organisation communicating such work by way of performance, be announced with the broadcast.

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