For last three decades, 48-year-old Rajender Gupta has been providing music to the ears of thousands of people, but now he is forced to down shutters on his music business and switch to other trade. About 15 years ago, Gupta bore it all when audio cassettes fell prey to onslaught of compact discs (CDs) and later to digital versatile disc (DVD).
But invasion of smartphones, pen drives, and portable media players is something which is bowing down Gupta. Sitting in his 5x5 shop in a lane behind Gurgaon bus stand, Gupta glares at uncertain future.
“I have started selling mobile phone accessories, earphones, pen drives, and portable music devices. CDs and DVDs are a big no these days. I am just exhausting my existing stock,” said Gupta who inherited the shop from his father. Gupta said after CDs entered the market it was not as tough as it is now in the age of internet.
Audio cassettes were replaced with CDs that soon gave way to DVDs. With a few ups and downs Gupta managed to keep his music selling business going on till net-enabled smartphones made inroad in India.
Now, Gupta feels helpless as now he is in demand only to load music or videos in pen drives.
“A few Nepalese people come looking for folk songs that are not available online. A few people, who do not have access to internet, come to get DVDs of Haryanvi raginis. Most, however, prefer to get songs uploaded in pen drives. A loaded pen drive of 2 GB costs anywhere between Rs 30 to 40 depending on his choice of music,” said Gupta.
He said even the music companies have cut short supply of CDs and DVDs as the songs are uploaded online. “It seems companies have also reduced manufacturing of discs” he said.
Five years ago, there were about 10 music shops in old Gurgaon but now only half of them exist.
When HT contacted Mahesh Kumar of Haryana Music Centre outside Sadar Bazaar for a story on music, his first reaction was not to come. “I am closing sale of music and movie discs. Please do not come” he said. Haryana music centre still has a large number of discs including Haryanvi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Bollywood music, and Hollywood movies.
“We will sell off existing stuff and clear the space. I have switched to mobile phone business now,” said Kumar. He said for discs there is need of a player while pen drives are a convenient way to carrying thousands of songs and hundreds of videos.
“I used to visit this shop for music discs but now I come here, though rarely, to get Bollywood movies only,” said Sumit Bhargava while scanning through a box full of movie discs.
Standard Music Centre in Sadar Bazaar is facing same fate. The shop owner is waiting for the existing stuff to get over. Meanwhile, the shop is now more filled with mobile phone accessories, and other electronic gadgets and discs are stacked in a corner.
Treasure of audio cassettes lying waste
With entry of compact discs in the market, demand for audio cassettes receded but Gupta’s music centre was filled with nothing else but audio cassettes.
Gupta tried his best to exhaust the stocks but was left with more than 8,000 cassettes of Hindi, Haryanvi, Garhwali, Nepali, Bhojpuri, Kumaoni, Nagpuri, Bundelkhandi and Rajasthani music.
Oblivious of value of the cassettes, Gupta is planning to sell the stocks stacked in his godown to some scrap dealer for the value of plastic. “I do not find any takers for these cassettes now. They are just occupying space in my godown,” said Gupta.
It is very tough to find magnet head and reel of audio cassette, said Gupta. Magnet heads and reels in audio cassettes wear out with time and need replacement after a few years, he said.
Gupta is ready to sell his stuff to lovers of audio cassettes at concessional rates, but he has not hit the right person yet. “Audio cassette players are also rarity these days as such there are no takers for such stuff,” he said.