India's Saregama Inks Digital-Distribution Pacts

India's oldest label, Saregama India, is extending its catalog through separate deals with leading digital-distribution services including MSN Music Store, New York-based online music distributor the

India's oldest label, Saregama India, is extending its catalog through separate deals with leading digital-distribution services including MSN Music Store, New York-based online music distributor the Orchard, iTunes Music Store, Rhapsody and Napster.

In April, the label struck a similar deal with digital content aggregator Loudeye, whose IndieSource digitizes and distributes content from independent labels.

The moves are seen as an attempt by Saregama, formerly known as the Gramophone Company of India, to capitalize on its 300,000-track catalog, which includes all genres of Indian music, especially film soundtracks, India's dominant music genre.

With album sales dwindling in India owing to multiple factors like piracy and the proliferation of newly launched private FM radio stations, Saregama is looking at online distribution in a bid to increase revenue streams.

Saregama vice chairman Sanjiv Goenka says that by 2007-08, a "substantial part" of the company's revenues will come from digital downloads.

The availability of Saregama's music online should attract a wide audience of expatriate Indians who enjoy high disposable incomes.
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