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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Day the Music Died 


It has been a soulful and melodious journey while it has lasted the course but as Nelly Furtado sings-Flames to dust, lovers to friends, why do all good things come to an end ?

Announcing what appeared to be a business design flaw beyond redemption or correction, the company announced in a distinctly unmusical aside

“On December 31, 2009, the WorldSpace satellite radio broadcast service will be terminated for all customers serviced from India. This action is an outgrowth of the financial difficulties facing WorldSpace India’s parent company, WorldSpace Inc, which has been under bankruptcy protection since October 2008. The potential buyer of much of WorldSpace’s global assets has decided not to buy the WorldSpace assets relating to and supporting WorldSpace’s subscription business in India," said the company communication to the subscribers.”

Am not sure if what was available in the public domain on the financial model would have ever passed muster, even if India were treated as a separate market. A subscription-only model ( of INR 2000 per annum ) eschewing all commercial broadcasts and advertisements with a no-profit-no loss partnership with select receiver manufacturers, may have foundered earlier than it did And while pay-for-radio is as alien a concept as public hygiene and civic sense in India, the 4.5 lakh subscriber base here was never really going to threaten to even break even. Content Aggregation and Studio costs, as well as royalty moneys to contend with in addition to salaries would mean a lot of heavy metal in the Liabilities column dominating over the wafting and fragile strains of a distant raga on the Assets side. And is mostly the case, Commerce won.

As one of the most fervent supporters of WorldSpace, this announcement will mean a discordant note for me in the new year. Again, it might mean a return to my old Skipper radio set coaxing it to burst into sound one last time, and perhaps looking for and finding ways to listen to the same channels through other media. I now surely need to lavish attention to my huge audio-cassette collection once more. Who knows, maybe a neo-convert to that Thin White Incrustation ? And at last, the crows and pigeons can settle comfortably once more on my radio antenna, there will be no more music to disrupt.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind.
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time.
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial.
For what it's worth, it was worth all the while.
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.


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