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The Business Of Music

Highlights from the Music Inc Conference: The outlook is positive for the growth of digital consumption of music, which definitely is an opportunity for upcoming artists to shine.

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Going Digital 

There was a standing ovation after the exclusive screening of Gully Life – The Story of Divine at the Music Inc conference in Mumbai on June 22nd. The Akshat Gupt directed documentary, produced by Supari Studios in association with Red Bull Media House, chronicles the rise of the Indian rapper, Vivian Fernandes aka Divine. The audience got a glimpse of Vivian’s life and his struggles before he shot to fame.  The documentary will be aired on the Discovery Network on July 1st, 2019.

Much like Vivian did at the start of his career, a number of young musicians in India these days make music and upload it on You Tube and other music streaming platforms in the hope that they will get noticed. Recently, there has been a proliferation of subscription-based music streaming platforms that serve the needs of artists as well as consumers. Spotify, the Sweden based digital streaming service that has more than 100 million paid subscribers worldwide launched its services in India earlier this year. As per reports, it is way ahead of Apple Music globally however, in the United States, Apple Music is ahead in the number of paid subscribers (28 million to Spotify’s 26 million). In India, its prime competitors are JioSaavan, Gaana, Wynk, Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music and Google Play Music. 

According to Amarjit Singh Batra, Managing Director, Spotify India, the focus of the industry in India is moving away from playback to non-film music, which is helping individual artists promote their talent. Spotify addresses the needs of the fans as well as the needs of the artists’ – it helps them connect to each other. He further added that since performances are a leading method of revenue generation for artists, Spotify helps them identify where their fans are located so they can organize events accordingly. He mentioned that understanding the user better and personalisation were the key focus of the team in India. 

Another trend in this space has been the rise of regional music. The popularity of Punjabi singers has been apparent over the last few years in fact, some of these singers have also created music for Bollywood movies. Therefore, personalisation is a key method by which digital music platforms can engage the consumer, and even help move the free subscriber category into paid subscribers. 

As per Akriti Kakar, an Indian singer who also sings for Bollywood movies, “OTT platforms like Saavn, Gaana, Apple Music & Spotify, etc are all really helping push independent music. You Tube is a platform where I’ve released about six covers and have nearly 200,000 subscribers. The advantage here is, I get to personally monitor who comes and watches my music, appreciates it or dislikes it. I plan further content based on this reality. It’s my direct contact with audiences and is quite interesting.”

The Indian audio over the top (OTT) industry is valued at $280 million with revenues from digital contributing 78.5% to overall music revenue in India, as per a 2019 report by Indian Music Industry (IMI) and Deloitte.

Key findings in the report: 

  • Indian consumers spend 21.5 hours per week listening to music, which is higher than the global average of 17.8 hours per week (IFPI survey). 
  • The growth in smartphone use, lower data tariffs, better connectivity and increased internet penetration are drivers for increased digital consumption of music, which is set to increase over the next few years. 
  • The number of smartphone users in India is expected to reach 829 million by 2022.
  • The online video audience in India is expected to grow to 500 million by the end of 2020. 
  • For Audio OTT, 60% of digital revenue comes from ad- supported and subscription streams. 

The outlook is positive for the growth of digital consumption of music, which definitely is an opportunity for upcoming artists to shine. That’s good news and we hope to see a lot more young talent take center stage however, the industry does need to guard against piracy, which is a pressing issue. 

Melody and the Marketer 

With the popularity of digital music platforms growing, it has been noted that the number of brands using music to create a connect with their audiences has increased. 

According to Priyanka Khimani, Co-Founder & Partner, Anand, Anand & Khimani, the approach to advertising has changed. “People are not just watching ads on their television screens anymore. The target audience is different. We saw deals five years ago where a brand went to a big star or a music composer and had them create an anthem. They were playing top dollar to get it done. Now we see brand campaigns being created around an influencer who has a certain demographic on social media. It is interesting that music has become the first part of the conversation and not the last thing that needs to be plugged in with a brand.”

As per Saisangeeta Israni, General Manager, Marketing, Spykar Lifestyles Ltd. back in the 90’s there were fewer platforms and a limited number of brands used music to create engagement therefore, one would see well planned out campaigns. Today, there are a number of music platforms available to the listener, and for brands this means, fragmented reach. Since brands are looking for the right audience and the right reach, a number of platforms to choose from could pose a challenge. 

Talking about Mahindra Racing and the use of music to create engagement, Vivek Nayer, Chief Marketing Officer, Mahindra & Mahindra said, “In order to continue fan engagement in between races, we picked music, used it to create content and put it on social media to engage with our fans. We got Formula E drivers to dance to Bollywood Bhangra beat. The video took on a life of its own.”

All this conversation was indicative of the fact that astute marketers will continue to leverage the power of music to charm the distracted consumer.  We hope to see innovative collaborations between brands and music artists in the future. 


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