Hindi music industry in a churn

Though Hindi music industry revenues are growing, it has not really come out of the shadows of Bollywood. Originality and creativity are seldom witnessed amid the din of remixes and ‘inspired’ music

Hindi music industry in a churn

Pragati Saxena

The Hindi music industry is going through an interesting phase. The revenues are increasing, more number of music albums are coming out. Right from remixes to rap and pop, music lovers are flooded with choices. But the singers still grumble that they are being constantly overpowered by Hindi film music. The newcomers too are increasingly looking at film music to survive and thrive. Says upcoming singer Sourabh Joshi, “Struggle is a part and parcel of any industry. I believe if one wants to achieve something in life, one must be ready for the hardships and new lessons. I have had my tough times and still have many as I have yet to achieve many things. Coming from Jabalpur, MP, It was a big step. Surviving in this city of Mumbai and pursuing music is challenging.”

Though Saurabh Joshi has no qualms about joining the film music world, and thinks that remixes are great, not many singers and audience alike will vouch for the remixes. Though they instantly catch up with the younger generation with their peppy beats, they do not have any shelf value.

Singer Shibani Kashyap who released her single Wanna Be Free recently also shared her unhappiness with the excessive dependence of the Hindi music industry on Bollywood. She complained in an interview that because of this dependence on Bollywood music, independent music albums are not getting enough attention. “I would declare that there is no music industry; it is only dependent on Bollywood and that is sad..” she said in an interview to Hindustan Times.

Varun Rajput, member of Antariksh, a band, which is constantly making good music since 2012 and is being recognised for it too, believes that this is the best time to be a musician in India, as the Hindi Independent Music scenario has been thriving over the last 7-8 years. “If you go back 10 years, it was very difficult to have a career in music. There was barely any musician/band taking that leap of faith, and trying to build their careers doing music and nothing else. But that has changed over the last 5-7 years. Also, 10 years ago, there was barely any ‘Hindi’ independent music. All the bands used to be in English, everyone was playing Rock, Blues, Jazz, Metal etc. It’s transitioned in the last 10 years and the same people as well as a lot of young, talented folks are now playing experimental rock, jazz, blues, and pop music in Hindi. The moment you change the language from English to Hindi, immediately the accessibility that your music has in India increases” he says.

But Varun admits that a music band can not survive only by making and selling albums. For that, they have to depend heavily on the live performances. But he looks at it optimistically, saying, “Even that was not possible ten years ago.”

The data shows a boom in music industry revenues. The total music industry revenues in India grew from ₹570.7 crore in 2016 to ₹725.6 crore in 2017. This increase in revenue by ₹54.9 crore is the largest since 2011, according to data from IFPI, a not-for-profit international organisation which represents the interests of 1,300 record companies from across the globe.

There were two primary factors driving this positive growth in digital music consumption, i.e. increased data consumption in the advent of cheaper data rates and greater smartphone penetration.

The digital revenue alone in 2017 was ₹665.6 crore which is greater than the combined industry revenue of ₹570.7 crore in 2016 by almost ₹95 crore.

According to a 2017 study by IPSOS for Indian Music Industry (IMI), an IFPI affiliate, the apex body that represents music companies operating in India both internationally and domestically, 94% of the 900 surveyed music consumers in India admitted to using some form of piracy to access music.

Piracy is another major huddle in earning revenue for music bands. And dealing with it is very difficult. Nevertheless, the feel-good factor for singers is that their music is at least downloaded and heard.

Another latest change is the overpowering influence of Punjabi pop and rap. Even Bollywood is obsessed with Punjabi pop no matter how frivolous and noisy the music is. It earns quick buck for the film and for the singer too.

Another latest change is the overpowering influence of Punjabi pop and rap. Even Bollywood is obsessed with Punjabi pop no matter how frivolous and noisy the music is. It earns quick buck for the film and for the singer too.

Rapper Badshah is a rage nowadays and that rage is positive as well as negative. Recently he complained of getting hate messages and criticism. “Criticism is for real. The amount of hate that I get is...but it always breaks my heart. Even this video has got so many dislikes. I don’t know who is disliking this video. I don’t know why there is so much of hatred,” Badshah said in an interview to the news agency IANS.

Well, that’s but normal if you make bad music. Isn’t it? But then, many others like it too.

Varun Rajput of Antariksh is not really perturbed by this scenario. Trends will keep coming and going, but good music will always stay, he believes.

In all, though the Hindi music industry revenues are growing, the industry itself has not really come out of the shadows of Bollywood.

And its very seldom that a new, innovative music comes your way and surprises you with its originality. It’s more of a business-either for revenue or of survival.

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Published: 16 Sep 2018, 8:00 PM