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Business News/ News / Indians are all ears to non-film tracks on Spotify
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Indians are all ears to non-film tracks on Spotify

The Swedish audio-streaming service said artiste-driven, independent tracks that aren’t part of movies and created by singers in collaboration with labels alone are growing at a faster pace than film songs.

A screen displays the logo of Spotify on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., December 4, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/file (REUTERS)Premium
A screen displays the logo of Spotify on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., December 4, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/file (REUTERS)

New Delhi: Film music dominates consumption on Spotify, making for 70-90% of all listening in India, especially when it comes to languages like Hindi, but artiste-driven, independent tracks that aren't part of movies and created by singers in collaboration with labels alone are growing at a faster pace than film songs, the Swedish audio-streaming service said.

“We would love to see a 50:50 balance between film and independent music, but that shift is happening gradually. When we came to India, we realised it’s a market of 1.3 billion people, but there aren’t enough artistes in the country because film music remains the barometer of success. This country has a huge musical heritage and opportunities for user-generated content have opened up in the last few years," Amarjit Singh Batra, managing director, Spotify India, and general manager, SAMEA (South Asia, Middle East, Africa), said in an interview. In 2023, the most streamed song on Spotify in India, Maan Meri Jaan by King and Saurabh Lokahnde, with over 275 million streams, was not part of a movie.

The trends vary across languages, Batra pointed out. In Punjabi, for example, non-film music accounts for 90% of all consumption, whereas in Hindi, Tamil or Telugu, where film music is big, the figure hovers near 70-80% for movie tracks.

Over the past year, names like AP Dhillon, King, Anuv Jain and Kanishk Seth have emerged as fan-favourites in the non-film category, Spotify said.

The company has invested in Spotify for Artists, a platform that shares data regularly with artistes on their listener base and consumption habits of the audience that follows their work. “They can know who is listening to them or who else those people are listening to, which could impact how collaborations happen and give artistes an opportunity to tap into other people’s audiences, besides giving them insights on where the fans are located, so they can go hold events," Batra said. Currently, more than 28,000 artistes from India use Spotify For Artists, doubling over the last year.

While film music will continue to top the charts in India, the emerging artiste-first ecosystem allows for songs to find association with singers instead of the actors they have been filmed on, Devraj Sanyal, chairman and CEO, India and South Asia and senior vice-president, strategy, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Universal Music Group, said.

Another marker of the popularity of these names is the on-ground shows that sell out when they perform in India and abroad, Sanyal pointed out. Universal, which has no current film library, deals primarily in non-film music, although it has a retro movie catalogue.

Having marked five years of operations in India last month, the audio-streaming platform’s 79th market in the world, Spotify said that while nearly 70% of the listeners were streaming international music at launch, currently more than 70% turn to local music. In addition, the consumption of music from India has grown globally, with 85% year-on-year increase in 2023 alone. The rise in consumption spans several local languages, with Malayalam being the fastest-growing for music consumption worldwide, surging 5,300%, followed by Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi, and Hindi. Further, Indian artistes have found listeners in more countries across the globe, with the most exported names being A.R. Rahman, Alka Yagnik, Anirudh Ravichander, AP Dhillon, and Arijit Singh. In fact, Arijit Singh is the third-most followed artiste on Spotify globally.

Since Spotify's launch five years ago, its playlists from India have also grown worldwide, led by Punjabi music. Hot Hits Punjabi witnessed the highest increase at 10,000% in the last one year, while Punjabi 101 grew at 1,400%, followed by Hot Hits Hindi and Bollywood Mush.

Batra acknowledged that music listeners in India have traditionally not been used to paying for what they consume, having mostly turned to pirated sources. Other than partnering with labels to curate local-language playlists, the platform has allowed for UPI payment options and sachet-style, mini-price packs to lure customers.

“If India has to reach the top five or 10 market list in terms of music revenue, people have to become consistent in paying. We believe the mindset is changing because Indians are ready to pay and they want the best," Batra said.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lata Jha
Lata writes about the media and entertainment industry for Mint, focusing on everything from traditional film and TV to newer areas like video and audio streaming, including the business and regulatory aspects of both. She loves movies and spends a lot of her free time in theatres, which makes her job both fun and a bit of a challenge given that entertainment news often just talks about the glamorous side of things. Lata, on the other hand, tries to find and report on themes and trends in the entertainment world that most people don't notice, even though a lot of people in her country are really into movies. She’s a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
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Published: 10 Mar 2024, 02:59 PM IST
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