Satyam Audio brings back the LP record but to what effect?

LP Cover of Timeless Melodies by Satyam Audios
Pix Credit : Musthafa

Satyam Audios seems to have  initiated the return of the LP record (I had a hard time explaining to my 12 – year old nephew about what exactly an LP does) with a collection of  8 songs from 7 movies, there being two from Krishnagudiyil oru Pranaya kaalalthu, and the LP is priced at Rs 599/-

The Disc release was on July 17, 2011 at the Ernakulam Press Club Hall with B Vijay Kumar, renowned film historian and archivist (our very own Vijay ji) receiving a copy from M Jayachandran. Vijay ji has also written the beautiful sleeve notes for the LP.

This is the  track listing :
Side A.

  • Kaathirippoo Kanmani ( Krishnagudiyil ) :  KJY and KS Chitra
  • Karaley Nin ( Devadoothan )  : KJY and Preetha
  • Pachappanam Thathey ( Nottam ) : KJY
  • Etho Nidra than ( Ayal Kathayezhuthukayaanu ) : KJY

Side B

  • Pinneyum Pinneyum  ( Krishnagudiyil ) : KJY
  • Ente ellam ellam ( Meesha madhavan ) : KJY and Sujatha
  • Manassey Paadoo nee ( Paranjutheeratha Visheshangal ) : KJY
  • Parayathey Ariyathey ( Udayanaanu Thaaram ) : KJY
The release of the LP Disc in Malayalam 17 July 2011
Pix credit : Musthafa

Though I have always loved the EP’s and the LP discs and have spent a substantial part of my resources ( notice the euphemism 🙂 )in collecting them, I still am at sea when it comes to the commercial viability of such an enterprise, in these times, even though buying the argument of this being a niche segment and Satyam Audios knows exactly what they are doing. Audio CDs of movies as a standalone product has long ceased to be channel of revenue for the producer. The dealer who retails it, is most of the time, the main culprit who peddles the mp3 version of the Movie OST on the side, and let’s face it, for an audio CD that is normally priced at Rs 95/- with one or at the most two popular tracks, the average cinephile would go for the easy way out, buying the two tracks from the retailer through his own private mix cds. The producer gets the short end either ways. Though a shared file on the web is a given, there is also a reasonable amount now made in the form of organised, individual track downloads through ‘enlightened’ music portals and the music wing of the popular media houses.

Which all points to the average target buyer of the current songs from the music, the 18 – 35  age group (on an average ). Their preferred media players are their personal devices, and they like to listen on the go, be it from their personal music player devices or their cell-phones. They are also a group that finds great difficulty in coming to terms with the concept of a Long Playing Record and a turntable that plays it, BOTH bulky, clumsy and non-portable.

I am given to understand that the music rights catalogue that resides with Satyam Audios hardly figure the oldies – its mostly the early 2000’s movies and its OST’s that would get a second shot as LPs to the best of my knowledge.  Being the pioneer in the resurgence of this vintage media, there are two commercial requirements that Satyam Audios need to fulfill if they want to pull this off as a reasonably profitable enterprise , in my honest opinion :

  1. Ensure atleast one local supplier for the state who can provide LP players, which can result in a small churn in new audiophiles trying out the medium and maybe liking it too.  ( I just wonder what in the world am I going to do even if I, as a newbie, buy an LP, being carried away by the moment, and realise that I just don’t have any idea on WHAT to play it on ! ).  If they need a small but significant rate of conversion in the existing audience, make sure they have both available – the LP and its player.
  2. Get as much as catalogue rights of the old tracks, way back, beginning from the Gramaphone record of ‘Jnanambika’ (1940). The baby-boomers’ generation who were used to LPs and EPs, and  count on some of them in their sunshine years to be their favorites will certainly buy them, if re-released in the 78 rpm mode. I personally know a lot of them willing to buy a re-release disc of Jnanambika’ (1940), just for the memories.

They have announced their next release to be a compilation of Shreya Ghosal’s Malayalam popular hit songs. And I’m thinking, who exactly are they targeting as their buyers ? Darned if I knew.

Satyam Audios’ Address at  Kochi.
Satyam Audios
XL /1260 B, Drowpathy,
TD Road, Kochi
Kerala, India. Pin: 682011
Tel. +91.4842362242
mail: satyamaudios@gmail.com

They have an online site http://satyamaudios.com/. Please don’t even bother visiting that. The ‘Latest News’ there is still the audio cd release of Yugapurushan (2010)!

Would love to know your thoughts. Do write in.

The Video of the LP Release. ( Courtesy : Musthafa )

You can also read a recent article from The Hindu on the resurgence of LP’s in India here.

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26 thoughts on “Satyam Audio brings back the LP record but to what effect?

  1. Writing from the US. Got hold of the release on my recent trip to Kerala, brought it back. I have a Technics turntable and an adequate amp/speakers. The sound quality is AMAZING. I have the same songs on CD (esp the Meesha Madhavan one) and it sounds very harsh when listening after the LP record. This is the way Yesudas was meant to be heard (except live of course)

    To get the max quality you have to use a proper record player/amp. I am so dismayed to see these ‘thattikkoottu’ brass windup record players on footpath being sold with *actual* old LP records, which will be ruined after couple of playings on those horrible equipment. I hope those old mechanical gramaphones never get used.

    Sony has a record player these days for about $100, which should work out to be like 5000Rs. It’s supposed to be pretty good. You will, of course, need an amp and speakers. High-end german turntables, basic ones, cost around $399 (Rs 20,000) in the US. Not sure if importers exist in India for those. Amazon has listings for all. Many are available in the used market.

    It’s niche Market, I hope they survive for some time. In the meantime, I am going to buy up several copies of the records they release, just in case.

    1. Dear Anish,
      Thank you so much for writing in and your valuable insight. I do have a Technics Mk2, though most of my collection are Jazz and Blues.As I mentioned earlier too, my only grouse is their unwillingness to procure old catalogues and reissue them art a premium ( for which a Market readily exists) than going for releasing current ones hoping for conversion and subsequent purchase. Thanks again..cinematters

      1. I agree 100% with your peeve. While reissuing the new songs are fine, I hope they succeed in getting the old songs (hopefully close-to-original reel-tape recordings) and reissue them after some signal cleanup. But this is a new enterprise, and niche markets would need to be commercially successful to be viable. Kerala is a small state compared to Hindi speakers’ market size, so I only pray they succeed. LP records are still getting issued for Hindi movie songs, so the market-size is a determining factor. I am sure Satyam’s initiative is more a result of the owner’s love for the LP than any sound business plan/analysis, and thank him/her for that. I hope they find the niche market viable, I will be buying enough for myself and some friends for my part.

        1. Dear Anish,
          Thank you for the nod :)But, even with transferring old tracks and pressing them as LPs/EPs the classic way, the space constraint seem to have resulted in a whole lot of classics either missing a limb or a digit 😛 In fact, it has been the subject of Sajith Bhaskaran’s “investigation” of the two versions of the same song existing in Malayalam Cinema. You can read all about it here.. One definitely hope they sustain the initiative, but being the bleeding corpus that audio industry is now, I have my doubts. Thanks so much for writing in.Regards, cinematters

  2. watched Paadatha Painkili 1956..merryland productions.
    poor girls meets rich boy story line with a “painkili” touch..liked it for the originality in dialogue presentation without the dramatic intonations and voice modulations typical of 50-60s movies.Kottayam slang dialogues seem very original. Cant place the heroine..is it Miss Kumari? PN looks very young and handsome in baggy pants and military cropped curly hair. Better than the ones I watched in theaters over the last 2 months.

    1. Dear Sibi,
      It was from Muttathu Varkey’s wordsmithy, so I guess that explains the “painkili” and the Kottayam slang. It was a multi-starrer of the times with Miss Kumari, Pankajavalli and the Debut of Shantha, a regular fixture in Merryland/Neela productions. Also, this was the movie that proved to be the definitive break for Bahadoor ( the chakkaravakkan character ). I guess the President of India must have liked the “painkili touch” cos it also won the President’s Award for the best Regional Film of that year :)..regards..cm

  3. With a modern turntable, vinyl sounds better than CD, which makes me want to buy vinyl..lots of new releases in Hindi. Good initiative by Sathyam..Keep it coming….Its not difficult to get a new turntable these days..even in Kerala.

    1. Dear Sisosisosi,
      My only apprehension is their catalogue selection and the way they would fulfill the “experience cycle”. Lets see how it goes. Also could you possibly let me know of ant outlets in Trivandrum where I could get hold of an LP player?Regards..cinematters

      1. I agree that old timers are longing to collect vinyl records for their nostalgic value. But even enthusiasts from the younger generation are nowadays taking up collection of LP/EP records as a hobby. How far Satyam Audios succeed in bringing out new titles on LPs can be predicted with accuracy only later. Anyway it is a welcome attempt for those who still prefer to listen to songs on record player.
        Old record players in good working condition are available at Calicut .You may visit http://www.gramophoneworld.com and http://www.gramophonedisc.com for details.

      2. CM,

        I’ve seen new record players imported from Netherlands at Music World 7 months back. The price comes to 6000 to 7000. You can have second hand players at Trivandrum. Try to contact Murugan sounds at Karamana (Nedumkaadu route) There is an elderly man in the shop. Some years back I frequently visited the shop. He got a good collection of players at that time. i dont know whether he is having players now. What you need is a good cartridge; maybe magnetic.

        In the past, songs recorded in spool tape are brought to Calcutta for converting it to records. I remember the old 78 rpm records released from calcutta. Name of Yesudas is printed as Jessodoss. The song ariyunnilla bhavan ariyunnilla in Kattukurangu is written in the record as ari unni illa. It simply explains that the label is prepared by people who dont know Yesudas nor Malayalam.

        The early Malayalam film songs were released in 78 RPM records. Generally 78s are made of a brittle material which uses a shellac resin (thus their other name is shellac records). When shellac supplies were extremely limited, some 78 rpm records were pressed in vinyl instead of shellac (wax).The 78 RPMs ruled till 1968 in Colombia and HMV records. Slowly 45 RPMs entered. These 45rpms are in two types: SP & EP (Special Play and Extended Play). Rarely LP records of 45 RPM was also released. SP records have one song in one side and a second on the other side. EP records have 4 songs – two for one side and two for the other. 45 RPMs to my memory was released in Odeon, Angel records, Colombia, HMV – all EMI Members – produced by the Gramophone Company of India ltd. I feel that this was the golden era of Malayalam film songs released since the quality of these recordings were xcellent – especially odeon and Angel records. By the early 70s (I am not exactly sure) the 331/3 RPM records appeared in malayalam film songs. HMV released songs in 3313 RPM with a tiltle – super seven. Raagam, Rasaleela, nellu, were released as super seven records. Later Polydor, Inrec and AVM entered along with Gramaphone Compony of India ltd. Songs of Nadeenadanmaare Aavashyamundu, Taamarathoni, Vimochana Samaram etc were released by Polydor and that of Pratheeksha was released by INRECO. Anthiveylile Ponnu was released by AVM. I think that the record of CID Nazir was released by Polydor (I am not sure – just hearsay)…

        Sajith

        1. Dear Sajith,
          Thank you so much for that brief yet insightful trip through the EP & LP history of our times. I do have a Technics SL-1210 Mk2 as a part of my audio rack, and a really, really treasured one at that, for the fact that it cost me a lot of my savings at one point of time 🙂 I have hardly around 68 LPs and EPs combined of Malayalam films and Classicals. The large part of mine is Western Classical,Jazz, Rock and Blues and I guess it was that I invested my energy and effort upon, a fact that I have come to rue, now a days :). Will surely drop in at Murugan sounds on my next visit to Kerala, and have already noted it down. Maybe Sibi could give us a headsup if he is familiar with the place.Thanks so much once again..cinematters

        2. need help expert suggestions
          I am not familiar with the technical aspects of records and player…. all i know is the that big dics is called record. EP means extended play..what does LP mean?? how many songs come in a disc?Does vinyl coating give better quality than shellac/Also the catridge you were talking about is it the same as needle?I havent used one yet. By the time I developed interest in songs most people had cassettes. An expert in records and record player advised me not to get the old kolambi types.. as the needle in that would scratch the disc and make it useless over time.It is hard to replace the needles once it wears out. He advised me to get an electric one preferably philips. your thoughts…i have started looking for a record player now that old records are available..

          1. Dear Sibi
            An LP record means Long Play record. These are released both in 33 and 45 RPM. Recordings in vinyl are good than the shellac type. In an LP there may be 8 to 12 songs. That is the ideal number. There are LP records with twenty songs.

            Sajith

  4. Sathyam Audio’s efforts seem like putting new wine in old bottle. The LPs, Eps,and Sps(78rpm) have only nostalgic value in these days though there is a visible spurt in demand for old records and record players as evidenced by the increase in the cost of collecting them.and decrease in availability. Shreya Ghosal and a gramophone record somehow do not seem to gel for even old,ardent fans of LPs and Record players. For them listening to a Baburaj, Devarajan Master or a Dakshinamoorthy……….. on a LP is nearer to musical ecstacy.,

    1. Hi Jayasankar ji,
      The idea seems to be the perfect example of trying to leverage the power of a niche market, but with the wrong set of ideas. As you correctly pointed out, I don’t find anyone queuing up to buy an LP compilation of Shreya’s popular hits compilation in the near future. The operative word is nostalgia, that’s where the money is. The earlier Satyam Audios realises it, the better.. Thanks so much for passing through and writing in. Look forward to your perspectives and inputs on the Malayalam classics through these columns and your wonderful blog. Regards…cinematters

  5. When I wrote my comment on Sathyam Audios releasing L P Records, of the singers and musical artists most worthy of appearing in new gramophone records, I forgot to mention a few immortal names which I think was an unpardonable offence. They are L.P.R.Varma, K.S.George, Santha Devi, P.Leela, P.Suseela , Sulochana and Brahmanandan. I really loved them all for enchanting through amplified records and also through All India Radio. The really thrilling were those drama songs including those of KPAC which are not available now. By KPAC Songs I mean those songs which are not aired and stopped in the middle irreverently by the Communist Parties. Bringing the George songs would be a great tribute to him. After singing all those fine and touching songs for the communist party, in his old age, poverty and disease, in Trivandrum during an election, he appeared to sing for Congress party. He was cruelly beaten by his once comrades. Even now they do not feel it a shame to air his songs through loud speakers in their meetings. His songs were actually blackened out by hysteric communists in Kerala. Regarding L P R Varma, a fine collection of his original records are kept safe by a noble man who married into his family. Unfortunately I forgot his name whom for this purpose I had once contacted.

    1. Dear Remesh ji,
      This is exactly what I have also tried to bring forward – the re-release of the 60’s and 50’s music catalogues rather than the 2000’s. And the collection of KPAC Songs as brought out by HMV is now easily available as audio CD in the market. You could buy it off at any retail outlet. You can even buy it online through AMAZON if you want to, here...Thanks..cinematters

  6. When I was a boy I eagerly awaited for the local mike set shop to open and play EPs and LPs amplified through horn-type loud speakers. When gramophone records begin to play we will have to wait a while for the actual song to begin. The sound of the magnetic needle moving through the groves of the record before the song begins was the greatest thrill. In those times the finery of all songs were the Tabala. Most often in those times, I listened to those songs especially to get thrilled by the exquisiteness of Tabala playing in cinema music. If some body has any doubts, just listen to the famous song, Arayilotta Munduduttha Penne. Malayalam cinema music producers then had a fine connoisseurship of finery in background and instrumental music. The bits of those times are surpassed by none living today including A.R.Rahman or the above mentioned Jayachandran. In fact, what those ancient music directors viewed before their minds’ eye were these gramophone records taking their songs to immortality. These gramophone records had another unique speciality. They provided a certain gap between two songs during which respite the listener could slowly release himself from the sweet clutches of the previous song and prepare himself for the rare experiences of the coming song. To express in other words, he had time to take breath. This gap which gramophone records provided was vital in retaining alive the interest in and the power to distinguish between the good and bad of Malayalam cinema music. Listening to these songs I became a singer and a poet and then a writer. Sathyam Audios did the right thing. Let the records come, the gramophone players will surely follow. But one thing has to be particularly noted here. The only one song worth listening in the presently released record is Pinneyum Pinneyum which is perfect. All others are rubbish, in my view. I have 45 years experience in listening to good music. If they are going to produce collections such as this, they will not break even, unless makers of such bad music purchases them in bulk. Turn to the finery of A.M.Raja, Kamukara, Udayabhanu, P.B.Sreenivas, Jesudas, Jayachandran. And if I mention the liquid marvels of S.Janaki, the new wave music director M.Jayachandran please don’t be offended.

    1. Dear Remesh ji,

      Marketing Nostalgia is one, marketing it the right way is another. As I mentioned, given the catalogue of films and its songs that start fron 2000 onward, I really have my doubts on the group of music afficionadoes they are targetting to buy their vinyl. Saregama which I presume holds the HMV catalogue can make a killing if they start releasing their old catalogues in Kerala. They are doing fabulously with their re-releases of Mughal-e-Azam, Sholay and the like.AND they are also getting the players into the market. For this enterprise to sail, they need to do this or they sink. IMHO, that is a given..Thanks for writing in..Regards…cinematters

  7. This is a bit like reinventing the wheel. Who has a turntable nowadays anyhow…?
    I don’t see Shreya Ghosal’s fans waiting in queue to get the next LP…

    1. Hi Sunny,
      Vinyls have been on a comeback, really, if you look at the worldwide numbers. From 2.5 million sold worldwide, the number has risen to 2.8 million in 2010 according to the Nielsen Company and Billboard’s 2010 Music Industry Report. Tiny but its there, though a major percentage of it is from the Heritage catalogues. THAT is the key. Everyone loves to own a part of their youth. 🙂 Satyam Audios, seems to be on a bizarre trip of sticking to the current catalogues. Also, without a single avenue to buy myself an LP player in Kerala, why should I even think of buying an LP? Saregama is getting LP players from Lenco to bring the toatl nostalgia experience for its Hindi re-releases of hits 60’s catalogue so that the consumer can have a atotal Experience. This is disorienting to say the least, in God’s own Country. 🙂 Thanks for writing in..Regards..cinematters

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