Spotlight on India: the rapid growth of regional Indian language music - Elite Music News

Spotlight on India: the rapid growth of regional Indian language music

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Each day in this week’s Music Ally Bulletin email, journalist Amit Gurbaxani shone a spotlight on some of the most interesting stories in the Indian music business.

For a streaming service to make it in India, it needs to look beyond the metropolises such as Mumbai and New Delhi and reach out to Tier-II and Tier-III cities where ever-increasing internet penetration is creating new customers. Over the last few years especially, these consumers have caused a significant shift in the consumption patterns of Indian DSPs on which the share of regional Indian language music is growing exponentially. On Gaana, for instance, the segment grew 26 times between 2017 and 2020 and now accounts for as much as 35% of overall listenership, the platform’s then CEO Prashan Agarwal told us in an interview for our India country profile published in October last year. On YouTube, that percentage is probably even higher with regional music hits – such as Haryanvi smash “52 Gaj Ka Daman” – making up the most of the weekly music video charts for India.

We’ve reported how major Indian record companies Saregama and Sony are expanding their regional music catalogues and now Universal Music has got into the game by launching Bhojpuri and Haryanvi labels under its VYRL Originals brand last month. With an eye on the importance of videos in this market, the promotional clip for launch single “Jeetega Mera India” featured an assembly of the Bhojpuri film and music industry’s biggest stars lip-synching to the tune, but more interesting is the latest offering, a fresh version of VYRL’s most-streamed Hindi track of 2021, composer Payal Dev’s “Baarish Ban Jana” in which singer Stebin Ben’s verses have been replaced by those of Bhojpuri vocalist Pawan Singh.

If it takes off, it could lead to a new industry practice wherein Universal and other Indian labels start putting out multiple versions of the same song to target different audiences across India’s vast and varied linguistic landscape – and a result, maximise the return on their investment.