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Still on the covid track, music industry faces stagnant revenues

70% of recorded music in India is film-based; the other 30% is largely classical, devotional, folk and independent. Photo: iStockphoto Premium
70% of recorded music in India is film-based; the other 30% is largely classical, devotional, folk and independent. Photo: iStockphoto 

  • The recorded music industry continues to lose between Rs2,016 crore and Rs. 2,791 crore annually due to obsolete laws, making it difficult to get adequate compensation from mediums like radio, television and short video apps as well as public performances

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NEW DELHI : For the third year in a row, India’s music industry has clocked in a revenue of just 1,500 crore, according to the latest report by the Indian Music Industry (IMI), the apex body that represents the interest of music companies or record labels on a pan-India basis.

Over the last close to two years, fewer films have released in theatres owing to the pandemic which has impacted the music industry revenue. Even though non-film music and independent artistes gained traction, maximum money is generated by music in Bollywood films and regional cinema.

The report said the recorded music industry continues to lose between Rs. 2,016 crore and Rs. 2,791 crore annually due to obsolete laws, making it difficult to get adequate compensation from mediums like radio, television and short video apps as well as public performances.

Further, 70% of recorded music in India is film-based; the other 30% is largely classical, devotional, folk and independent. As far as the southern and eastern states go, about 90% of the local music is film-based, the report said.

“Over the last year, as fewer films released, the discovery and popularity of non-film and independent music soared, but even then the most streamed songs for 2021 featured a fair share of Bollywood and regional film music," a Spotify spokesperson said.

Hindi is the most streamed language on the platform in India given the popularity of Bollywood music, the person added, but Punjabi music is almost as popular. Additionally, K-Pop has been on the rise, and three out of the 10 most streamed albums in India are by BTS, the south Korean boy band. English, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Spanish, Korean, and Japanese are some of the languages that drive music listening on Spotify in India.

“As movie releases were delayed, the listeners of Bollywood and film music and pop migrated to desi-indie music. With regular independent releases during the pandemic, this became one of the most-streamed genres post-pandemic," said a JioSaavn spokesperson.

"The category itself has been on the rise with more awareness amongst artistes on distributing independent music via aggregators. Major labels have also been supporting music outside the film ecosystem in the last two years," the person added.

Apart from Hindi and English, languages such as Telugu, Punjabi, Tamil, Bhojpuri and Kannada were the top five regional languages on JioSaavn, as of October 2021, the spokesperson said. Telugu accounted for the highest streams as far as regional languages go while top new gainers were Bhojpuri and Haryanvi.

Pawan Agarwal, director of music partnerships at YouTube, said the platform's top music videos for the year is a testament to the fact that when it comes to music, consumers’ preference for local language content often translates into huge breakout successes for regional and non-Hindi artistes. 

"Bhojpuri and Punjabi feature on our Hits of 2021 playlist in a significant way, along with Haryanvi, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada that have also made their presence felt," Agarwal said, naming Bhojpuri and Haryanvi artists like Ankush Raja and Shilpi Raj as breakout stars of the year. 

"The relative dearth of film releases in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, has led to a resurgence in non-film song releases, with independent artists and music labels embracing a new wave of storytelling through non-film music creating further inroads for the genre," Agarwal said.

Sandeep Lodha, chief executive officer, Gaana said Hindi may still be number one in terms of streams and share of listening but other languages have their own loyal base. "The barrier of language is very low in indie music. Listeners enjoy songs in languages they would not generally indulge in and several songs have a mix of more than one or two languages," Lodha added.

To be sure, the advent of audio streaming platforms may have led to easier discovery of music and musicians through a legitimate channel, but it has barely resulted in fair value for those who create content. Industry experts estimate that over 95% of users listen to music for free. Further, revenue leakages due to piracy is high.

Yet platform owners are optimistic.

“We have seen more users willing to pay for Spotify today, than compared to two years ago," said a spokesperson for the service which has launched daily premium plans starting at Rs. 7, to weekly ones, as well as individual, duo, family premium and discounted student plans.

 

 

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