India’s music business is cashing in
2011 is a year to forget for the Indian film industry. Money seeking studios have produced a stream of poorly written, badly directed movies; they’ve been shunned by the public. Meanwhile the inflation of big names in the casts has driven costs through the roof. The story doesn’t end well: the industry is set to lose $66m in 2011 - around 3 per cent of total revenues.
But not all media industries struggle to make money in India. The music business is booming: it grew by close to 10 per cent last year, and is projected to more than double by 2015. Ironically, insiders note, most of its revenues derives from songs featured in Bollywood movies. So how to explain the divergent fortunes of the film and music industries?
The first bit of explanation is technological: as digital downloads increase, purchases of single tracks or album on-line massively benefit; this is less true for paid-for movie downloads, who have less established platforms and demand a much higher bandwidth. And, you’d say, even if a film itself is objectively rubbish, you may still like its soundtrack.
But the main reason is elsewhere. Just look at Indian single charts and you’ll start to get an idea: yes, most of the top entries are Western names, and yes, these winners are the ones topping our charts. A painful evidence that international DJs and rappers, already pumping their sweetened beats in each and every gym, club and hair salon over here, have conquered India.
Surprising, in a way. Gangsta style and sexually charged lyrics are not to the obvious taste of the traditional, chaste Indian public. But foreign artists have found their trojan horse to penetrate the market: Bollywood soundtracks. Understanding that the Indian film industry is the music industry itself, they’ve started to team up with local directors and actors to reach billions of potential new fans. So now you have Akon, Lady Gaga, and other Western prodigies singing romance in Hindi - and judging by their raving success, they’re pretty good at it.
Credit photo: The Next Web