Every generation has turned to music to define themselves. Our generation is doing the same. We are changing the music industry and tailoring it to our needs and likes. In the Indian music industry, Bollywood is slowly but surely losing its grip over the music industry and its dominance is fading. The Indian music industry for long has been synonymous with Bollywood music, having little to almost no identity of its own. But it is changing and the future will comprise a mix of Bollywood, regional, indie and even underground music.
Major Indian music labels like Sony, Universal and T-series are now promoting music that is “non-film”. This loose term is used for any mainstream and commercially-oriented music that is not part of a movie. This “non-film” music has become very popular in the past few years and is taking up a large part of the share of the music industry in India. If you look up the 10 most viewed videos of the popular youtube channel, T-Series (said to have a 75% share of the market for Bollywood soundtracks), you would see that half of them are “non-film” music or featured in a movie a year or two later. In fact, the label’s highest viewed video is a “non-film” song called “Vasste” by Dhvani Bhanushali and Nikhil D’Souza (2019), which has over 1 billion views.
Rise of the Indie Hip-Hop and Music Festivals
A couple of years back, the whole country was raving about indie hip-hop due to the success of the Bollywood film, “Gully Boy”. The film, inspired by the lives of rappers Divine and Naezy, changed the way the country looked at its regional hip-hop artists. These artists, who a few years back were restricted to medium-sized clubs, were now making waves around the country. This led to many music festivals like the Red-Bull sponsored “Gully Fest” which celebrated “Gully Music”. Divine also became the first Indian performer to be featured on the BBC 1 radio. “Gully Boy” also brought into the spotlight many indie hip-hop labels like Azadi Records, which has given a platform for young aspiring artists to launch their music careers, something which was unthinkable a few years back.
The rise of music festivals, house parties and local internet radios across India have also added to many artists finally getting the limelight they deserve. Festivals like Bacardi NH7 Weekender- an annual music festival- and radio stations like Boxout.fm- a local internet radio in Delhi- has given a stage to many independent artists and has changed the way urban music lovers consume music.
Digital India and Cheap Internet
Another important contributor to the rise of independent musicians in India is the government-led initiative, “Digital India” which has provided millions of Indians with cheap and fast internet access. This has given way to many Indians consuming different forms of entertainment, including regional music which is now gaining more attention on streaming websites and apps like Youtube and Spotify than ever before.
The situation in India could not be more perfect for independent musicians and lovers of “non-mainstream” music. The landscape is changing and the niche is exciting. Bollywood will still be relevant, but it is surely losing its grip on the music scene in India.