History has been a witness to the constant amalgamation of cultures through trade, colonization, and religious expansion. Music is no stranger to this. In South India, a region primarily comprising a geographical area as large as that of Western Europe, where four major languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam) are spoken, has seen the prime of music ever since times immemorial. Music from these regions in the past has always been associated with the classical genre and film music. But over the years, inevitable change has spared no one. Here’s a look into it. Read to find out more.
By Vivek Raina | Managing Director, Believe India
Today, artists have evolved, adapted, and integrated different styles into their creative abilities. This adaptation has paved the way for the rise of local regional music and gave birth to a new identity where “music” is considered an art by itself. It has always acted as a subservient to the needs of other art forms like drama, dance, religious rituals, and now movies.
Music in India was once dominated solely by Hindi and English songs. Today, we have 15 major languages that have now found their own voice in different music cultures and artists. This has been possible because of a very interesting trend that we’ve witnessed. Consumers today are not restricted to mainstream music, but also the language, lyrics, folklores in raps, etc. We’ve noticed the raging craze for southern music across social media platforms where they have exploded with thousands of audience impressions on the internet. According to internal sources at Believe, the estimated market share of South Indian music is roughly 18% of the entire music consumption in India. Telugu leads with 8.3%, Tamil with 6% and then Kannada and Malayalam with a combined 4%.
South Indian music was in its niche classical and film music phase with region specific audiences, but now they’ve encompassed larger audiences and are here to stay. In this era of experimentation, artists have now started to shake off the stronghold of the OST music market. They have started curating independent music and releasing them on music platforms such as YouTube and Spotify. As an instance, Mohana Bhogaraju, whose independent song ‘Bullettu Bandi’ which released a year back has garnered over 274 Mn views on Youtube.
She received an overwhelming response, and this boosted her presence on the map while giving her the opportunity to truly explore independent music and maintain that constant flow of new releases. Apart from pop versions of songs, we are also witnessing a steady elevation in the number of folk artists like Mangli, who has a robust followership on YouTube with songs garnering millions of views. Her most viral song was ‘Kanakavva Aada Nemali’ that was highly celebrated with over 272 million views. Releases from Mangli are now available across digital music services, thus, providing her with a much larger consumer base that she can cater to.
In the southwest region, local Hip-Hop artists like All OK and Rahul Dit-O to name a few are independently creating music and building a new platform amidst the western culture. With artists now in control of their own music, they have the ability to cater to specific needs of the consumer base and deliver at the highest level. Both these artists have a huge fan base and an online followership. All OK has a YouTube subscriber base of 847K while Rahul Dit-O has 495K. And, to reiterate, this is just the beginning.
We expect that as the digital music market grows, we will see a pattern similar to the Hindi language where independent music artists and OST producers can co-exist and create a symbiotic environment. This will facilitate creating an artist centric ecosystem where they will be able to monetize through their albums. There is a switch from a soundtrack music-centric model favoring the film star playback model to an independent music market favoring the artist as a performer. The time has come where every regional Indian language will have its own superstar and no longer be concentrated by limited artists in a few languages. Indie artists are no longer the “weaker” genre and are starting to get powerful as artists who have the maximum creative democracy.
For consumers, brands, digital services, movie producers and most importantly the artists community at large, the future is great. This is how India’s music market will grow faster. With the right steps and a transparent ecosystem along with education, we think we are on the right track to put the Indian indie music scene on a global map.
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