The Revolutionary Change-Indian music in the last 5 years

As the overwhelming presence of Digital Technology swells to become an indelible part of our lives, it is only expected that every aspect of life would have to adapt itself to survive and thrive. As evidenced, the means of attaining anything of note today passes through the Digital route much unlike a few years ago.

Also relocated to the back-pages of history are the days  when  huge music halls brimming  with the best sessions musicians  of the country  dazzled us with their  outstanding wizardry to  decorate what  were  some of the most popular tunes conjured by  revered music composers of the day.

In sync with the digital revolution, music has witnessed a sea of ground-breaking changes in the interim that has altered the music world like never before.  It is without a trace of doubt that the single most influential factor having this trailblazing impact on the way music is consumed and promoted today is India’s digitization, occurring as it is at a frenetic pace.

Streaming services, like Spotify, Amazon, YouTube Music, enveloping music lovers all through the day, have drawn out listeners of all hues across homes, at their work-place or even while working out. YouTube the video streaming giant, ironically, is used by over 80% of the online users for their music listening in India which bucks up to an astounding 245 million users every month. It is with reason that digital revenues are driving the current music industry in India.

Also, Single releases, like in the West, unlike a bouquet of melodies once mandatory in every Indian music release are the rule and no longer the exception. Who would’ve imagined this scenario only a few years back?

Path-breaking technology, of the day, has gone on to drastically slash music recording expenses as almost every working Music Composer operates from his own space often as teeny-weeny as a soundproof room often accompanied by his favourite wordsmith.

Technology has also fueled the growth of Indian music aspirants across the globe as independent creators, have pounced upon readily available platforms like YouTube music to reach out to their fans.

No longer is it the case that a recording is stalled due to the unavailability of a particular soloist who the music composer could not do without.  There’s always your keyboard that will do it for you, albeit with the human element missing- but then that’s a small price to pay. This is mainly true of harmonic instruments like the violins- often 60-70 of them once embellished a song. The ubiquitous keyboard has done away with the once omnipresent violins- a scenario impossible to imagine not so long ago. “Sampled sounds mirroring a violin concerto or rhythm patterns are readily used for background scores and also while recording melodies” says Music Composer- Arranger and Multi-instrumentalist, Chintoo Singh.

Films today are fast abandoning the song and dance culture-the once distinctive feature of our cinema. “Realism” is indeed the buzzword for young filmmakers across India. Once busy Musicians, today, have found their footing in live performances as travelling musicians across the globe- in some ways compensating for the sudden loss in assignments compounded by the fact that fewer musical films are lighting up the screens.

Also, heartening to note is the fact that music from across regions is more accessible to the audience.  This has largely been made possible due to the ready availability of affordable recording software, which in turn has seen a spurt in down-home cosy studios in the most unexpected places.

The meteoric rise of regional music has also gone on to boost the revenues of the Indian music industry manifold and to unprecedented heights. Money-spinner regional tracks have broken many records often competing with the biggest film hits across the country. Buoyed by their success companies like Speed Records from Punjab has gone on to launch three music channels only to perform well beyond expectations & are on the verge of setting up Speed Records UK. Clearly, it would be foolhardy to consider regional music as a mere add-weight in the bustling Indian music scenario.

Given the insatiable appetite of the Indian hoi polloi for music it is only expected that any new style and format of music is always welcome. Rap Music in India has taken off big time with top-of-the-line Rappers commanding huge popularity and fandom.

College youth festivals have added zing to folk music from Indian hinterlands with musical forms like Baul, Lavani, Tappa, Gidda and others being recreated with adrenaline pumping beats to set the pulse racing during fashion & dance competitions.

Strumm Records another prominent player in the Indian music milieu is known for the creation of several sub genres of music like Youth-Devotional, varieties of fusion, easy listening instrumental music, among others. T Suresh M.D, Strumms, upbeat about the prospects of the industry mentions their unique presentation “Om Voices” featuring Mantras, Bhajans, Hymns, Kritis rendered by young artists as being a differentiator in the devotional space. “The idea is to think out-of-the-box” he insists.

Ready availability of data from various sources also goes a long way in helping music labels decide on the type of music to record, but that again is no substitute for scouting of talent by the ear.

Copyright Societies like IPRS have given the music creators a clear idea of their rights to royalties and have paved the way for the modern “entrepreneur-creator” who can recognize and monetize their work over time. IPRS, apart from collecting and distributing royalties from various users to the songwriters, composer and publishers also extends support in the form of knowledge, know-how and upskilling. Thus emerging as a true friend of the music fraternity.

Today’s music Creator is also saddled with the additional responsibility of promoting the music and creating a loyal fanbase. With multiple platforms, tools, and insights available, a creator cannot remain confined to creation only. While heart-touching music is a prerequisite, understanding the mechanism to make it reach out to its fanbase has become equally important. An artist can now find an audience in any corner of the globe without being limited to regions and territories.

Our country’s young and rapidly growing population has made India one of the most sought after music markets in the eyes of music professionals and business houses alike. The revenues of the Indian music industry are on a rapid rise for the last few years, primarily driven by the country’s growing online population. However, India’s massive film industry still plays an outsized role in the music business.

With the telecom infrastructure reaching the heartland along with cheap data plans, the current digitalization trend is here to grow, hitting a 80% penetration figures quite soon. That would mean that in the next few years the addressable audience of streaming will double, creating the single biggest streaming audience in the world.

A land where music is an integral part of daily life, celebration, and festivities, there is ample scope for the rich and vast Indian music repertoire to cash in on the Digital and the Telecom revolution  for the music economy to flourish like there’s no tomorrow.