Bangalore: A generation of Indians now earning more than their parents ever did are ready to rock to the likes of Aerosmith, underlining the country’s increasing emergence as a magnet for top names.
India’s economic growth has ended a period of austerity when entertainment not long ago meant a trip to the cinema for most.
Aerosmith, the latest 1970s band to arrive here, performs in the high-tech hub of Bangalore on Saturday as part of a world tour. More than 25,000 fans are expected to pack the Palace Grounds to hear them belt out their classic hits .
Recent months have seen the Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden, Scorpions and Shakira all perform to sell-out crowds. Tickets priced up to Rs1,800, or 10 times the price of a multiplex movie show, are not putting people off, said Venkat Vardhan, head of DNA Networks, organizers of the Aerosmith concert.
“We have sold 8,000 tickets to fans who will be flying to Bangalore from other parts of India,” he said.
“Not a single hotel room in the city will be going empty at the weekend. Fans know a live experience can’t be replicated. Indians have become very aspirational,” Vardhan added.
A booming economy, which grew at a record pace of 9.4% in the year ended 31 March, and rising salaries have put high-priced live entertainment within reach of India’s 300- million-strong middle class. For international artists, India is no longer a backwater they would rather avoid and they earn as much money from performing here as anywhere else, said Vardhan.
India’s media and entertainment industry revenues are forecast to more than double to $22.7 billion (Rs93,070 crore) a year by 2011 as rising incomes drive demand for recreation. Consumer spending in the 1.1 billion population is set to quadruple by 2025 to more than $1.5 trillion—overtaking Germany—as people earn more and save less, the McKinsey Global Institute said in a May report.
That prosperity is reflected in sell-out crowds at live concerts. Vivek Mahan, 35, a former Internet company executive, will fly from Dhanbad, Jharkhand, to watch Aerosmith.
“It will be the memory of a lifetime,” said Mahan, who now works in the construction business. “Such bands connect people who are in their 30s and 40s to their youth years. The expense won’t matter to them,” he added.
The Aerosmith concert and others also underline the emergence of Bangalore, already at the economic forefront, as an entertainment and music hub, too.
Vardhan of DNA Networks said the increasing popularity of expensive live entertainment is a “lifestyle extension” in Bangalore, where conspicuous consumption is becoming the norm.
Middle-class Indians are splurging on everything from designer clothes to luxury cars and overseas vacations, finally reaping the benefits of an economy that began liberalizing in the 1990s after decades of insularity.