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#TrendsIMO: Enough with the Audio Teasers, Just Give Me the Damn Song!

Streaming services are doing artists a disservice by allowing labels to turn full-length songs into jingles used for promotion

Amit Vaidya May 26, 2022

Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor in a still from 'Kesariya'

Okay, so every idea starts off as a brilliant marketing strategy for a one-time thing. Then it becomes successful because it was an original idea. Then everyone follows the exact same strategy with the hope that they’ll reap the same benefits that the original one-time thing did.

Does it work? Sometimes. Does it fail? Sometimes – but no one seems to care anymore because by then it has become an industry standard. Dare we ever stop something or reverse our course of action once something has started!

Which brings me to the extremely annoying trend of late that’s been gaining steam, and I can’t really seem to figure out what the reason is. On the announcement of Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt’s wedding, the team behind the upcoming film Brahmastra released a teaser not of the movie, but rather the song “Kesariya”. And while normally this would just be a YouTube moment, the Sony Music Entertainment India Pvt. Ltd team decided to also simultaneously release an audio teaser for the song across all music streaming services.

Why on Earth would anyone want to listen to 44 seconds of a song on repeat? Now, the teaser released on April 14th, 2022, which means more than one month has already passed since the song, or at least part of it, was shared with the viewing audience. While I understand that 15 seconds is now the new full-length song, what exactly was the team thinking while releasing a snippet and then not following up for months on end at this point?

In an era where what releases a week ago feels like yesterday, when will our execs learn that teasers can’t go on for unlimited timeframes? This isn’t the first time this strategy has been used. I remember very clearly that a few years back, the title song for Kalank was released as an audio trailer many weeks prior to the release of the full song.

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Perhaps the team is so confident of the song’s chartbuster status that they want to set the stage for a longer shelf life. But in this day and age, is it really worth sharing anything just for likes and some plays?

I wonder this because I think about Pritam, Amitabh Bhattacharya and Arijit Singh – the three music talents behind the new song (incidentally they were the same team behind the Kalank song too). Are they happy that their song is introduced and will now likely be forever remembered only as a Reel snippet? It is one thing when a portion of a song is used after the release of the entire track for TikTok videos, and it’s another thing to introduce music in these short snippets as a starting point.

Part of the argument most would have is that YouTube and videos are the only way to build hype and momentum. And so as a result, why restrict it to YouTube only when other platforms can advertise a product for the team in the same way?

Which is where the problem lies, at least for my calculated mind. Are teasers really music? Should Spotify really be okay with having a teaser be listed in its charts or any countdown when the song is literally not a song but rather a jingle for a film?

If I were running the audio-streaming services, I would stop audio teasers altogether. Why would a label opt to pay for ads when they can just use the platforms to tease their upcoming releases? In essence, Spotify is the free publicity vehicle for promotional material.

I’m sure many would disagree with my perspective and believe that music in all forms should be allowed to be released by the owners in whatever form they choose. My concern is less about the money, the manipulation or even the marketing – it’s more about the integrity of the music and the musicians themselves.

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It’s already challenging enough to find and listen to music without hearing an ad before the song or video starts or ends (let’s not even start with “Papa Mummy ka Sa Re Ga Ma”), but with music now being packaged in smaller and smaller units and then those smaller units being packaged as a full experience worth the same merit as the full track, it’s really diluting the value of the music and all the efforts of all the artists involved.

I don’t know where we will go from here. It seems a bit hopeless at this point, because the industry has turned music from something that can be enjoyed and revered into something that has to be utilized and pushed forward in as many marketable packages as possible.

It’s no wonder that such a boring remake of the original “Bhool Bhulaiyaa” from “Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2” became such a rage. There was a familiarity, nostalgia and a complete lack of originality, which in some ways made the song even more endearing because it was an ad with a new updated package. Little needed to be done to just get things back in motion.

At the end of the day, an audio teaser may play for a day or two, max a week, before the full release may work for hype – any timeframe beyond that is just inexcusable. Streaming services need to wake up and not let labels use their platforms for ads, or they should at least remove the teaser after seven days – it’s not fair to the artists involved or other artists on the service to compete with a jingle. Let’s call teasers what they are, and enough with them!


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