Music Content in India: Shamir Tandon

By Shamir Tandon, JetSynthesys’ Music Boutique

Music is a passion point for an increasingly large number of people across the globe. It is said the number of people who've watched Justine Bieber’s videos is larger than the combined population of the world's two most populous countries, China and India. Music triggers memories of communications, experiences and other moments from life. Scientists at UC Davis, Live Science stated, used brain scans to show how music and recall are intrinsically linked. When we ponder about significant moments in our lives, there's a high probability we'll remember a song along with the memory or a song will trigger memories of the past. India, 19th biggest music market in the world last year according to the IFPI, which calculated that its recorded-music revenues were $130.7m, up 13.6% year-on-year, with streaming accounting for two thirds of that total. There’s a strong drive in the Indian industry to grow into one of the top 10 global markets, following China.

Just to give a macro perspective, content is increasingly consumed on phone and is more personalised today. Unlike a cable connection that served a household, an app subscription serves only an individual hence making the market much bigger. The Indian music industry is continuing to inch towards digital consumption on the back of cheaper data and smartphones, enhanced digital infrastructure & curated content on the platforms. Digital music now generates more than 70% of the music industry’s Rs. 1,200 crore-odd revenue annually, according to the estimates mentioned in the 2017 Indian Media & Industry Report by KPMG India & the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The report further predicts that the country’s music industry will grow to Rs. 2,504 crore by 2021 at a compound annual growth rate of 15.8%.


Recent Trends in the Music Landscape

Digital: Cassettes and CDs have perished and while vinyl has made a sneaky comeback, it’s safe to say streaming is the most preferred mode of music consumption worldwide. Thanks to a rapidly growing digital infrastructure in the country, affordable data with cheaper smartphones, music streaming in India has achieved a documented a record volume of 60 million active monthly users across apps as heard at various forums. With streaming companies like Gaana, Saavn, Jio Music, Amazon Music and now Spotify in the near future, the listener is bound to be spoilt for choice.

India now boasts the lowest mobile internet data costs in the world. The so-called “Jio Effect”, whereby Reliance Jio helped to drive down data costs to around just 6 rupees (US$0.1 per Gigabyte). An estimated 420m mobile internet subscribers in India with some 125m on Reliance Jio alone. Indian internet users are essentially using YouTube to consume music while the most streamed Facebook videos are news-related content, according to a study by video intelligence platform Vidooly Media Tech. Recently we have observed, there’s an increase in the current trend of capitalising on the reach and virality of YouTube.

Live Music: Multi-day music festivals are the growing frenzy among millennials today who are the reason behind the big-ticket funding that power these events worldwide and especially in India. Competitive pricing, rising line-up of top headliners & acts, mounting on the popularity of diverse music genres, followed by social media noise have all contributed to the development of the music festivals culture in India with nearly 25 festivals held yearly. With music festivals going mainstream in India, organisers over the past few years have recorded millions in ticket sales clubbed with advertising revenues, ensuring its sustainability. Over a period, India has witnessed music properties such as The Ziro Festival of Music, Sunburn, NH7 Weekender, VH1 Supersonic, Mahindra Blues & Paddy Fields which are growing strength to strength with every edition.

Rising Independent Artists: With the effect of streaming and festivals there is an unparalleled surge in the number of independent artists across varied genres who are making the most of digital platforms and live events to build their following. Whilst Bollywood dominating music consumption in our country, the indie music scene in India is slowly budding and future is starting to look bright for independent artistes. Music streaming platforms such as Saavn & Gaana in India are among the major forces behind this trend, providing independent artists with unique opportunities to showcase their talent and take their music to millions of listeners.

Advertisers bridging the gap with millennials: Advertisers are aggressively trying to connect with younger audiences in more engaging means by riding on the wave of emerging trends such as music streaming and music festivals to ensure their brand gets the right amount of visibility with the millennials. Digital advertising on music streaming platforms globally has seen an enormous surge in recent years. While brands are discovering unique ways to engross the youth at music fests and live events, merchandising or freebies are among the most popular modes in which big ticket sponsors are seen promoting their brands.

Music has always been free on radio, TV now YouTube. Hence, making the consumer pay for music has always been a struggle for any platform our country has seen. Early evidence suggests any standalone music service is right modes operandi and music should be a piece of the larger pie. Every platform trying to offer music free as a bait will eventually start charging as the market matures but only services which are bouquet offering music a part of bundling will endure the tide. Taking television as an analogy, we have seen a decline in independent music channels being fruitful without being a part of bouquet offerings. Music may be a loss-making arm but an essential part that helps companies provide consumers 360 degree offering.

Music industry is in a transitional phase, trends come and go, but only a good song has the power to withstand the undercurrents of the music industry and make the right sound. Music industry is like fashion, trends keep changing every few years. There has, is and always will be good music, mediocre music and noise! Everything co-exists but only a good song lands up making history.


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