| 26 Mar 2023
2012: Music industry worked hard to maintain status quo

MUMBAI: For the music industry, the year gone by was a good albeit an uneventful year. It was a year of consolidation with most players sticking with the status quo, cementing hard won positions, looking out for strategic partnerships and trying to survive the rapid changes technology brought in. For all the deals brokered, alliances made and events announced, it was a case of ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same.’

On the business front, music labels banked heavily on Bollywood music- the bread and butter of the industry. Fortunately, 2012 gave the labels a reason to smile thanks to a string of chart-topping item numbers. A few of indie pop artists’ mostly established artists -Colonial Cousins, Rabbi Shergill, Euphoria, Falguni Pathak, Lesle Lewis, Kavita Seth-blipped on the music radar with new albums. The highlight of the year was a credible attempt by Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra to transform herself into an international pop star.

Her single ‘In My City’ created ripples but not a wave that one hoped for.

The industry also saw positive performance by physical sales of music, a category savagely mauled by digitization of music. Underneath the shadow of Bollywood music, devotional, fusion and regional music categories saw strong demand too. The long forgotten vinyl too made a small comeback as aficionados brought back demand for classic and collector’s item records.

Digital music providers made additions to their offerings of music by adding streamed music in to downloads. The segment saw growth but not enough to see inflow of revenues.

The winner of the year was mobile music which already accounts for a major chunk of the industry’s revenue. The largest contributor in revenues to the US$5 billion plus Indian MVAS (mobile Value Added Services) market, mobile music grew exponentially, keeping pace with the wireless subscriber base of more than 993 million, as per reports. The market had the advantage of having a well entrenched players, a nationwide (and beyond) network to monetize product offerings.

The biggest loser was radio industry. It got involved in a nasty slanging match with audience Research Company TAM Media over the latter’s Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) data collection methods.

While radio stations accused RAM data of not employing the latest electronic tools to collect data, taking samples from too small a pool thus not revealing ground realities of the market, TAM Media responded by stating that their methods were only criticized by those whose ratings were not favourable, and that the radio industry was unwilling to pay for more scientific method of measuring audience response.

The hugely anticipated Phase III auction of FM spectrum also did not materialize leaving the stations to remain in a stagnant pool; undertake makeovers within the available space and make the best of flat ad revenue growth. The only silver lining was provided by a slew of hit item numbers that got audiences tuned in, the innovative programming and the professionalism of radio DJs that made sure their market shares were not eroded by keeping their audiences hooked.

The surprise of 2012 was the emergence of festival and live music circuit for independent artists. Established festivals like Sunburn and NH7 Weekender successfully added new venues and new events. The festivals saw good footfalls thanks to affordable rates, a welcoming change in mindsets regarding festivals and live concerts and interesting mix of established and new acts. Old stand alone fests like I Rock, Hornbill Festival and the IIT and college fests continued to attract.

India’s overall live event industry is pegged now at $ 10 billion. So bullish where the players that companies like Percept announced plans to list its property Percept Live (which in turn owns the Sunburn property) in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with a valuation of $ 1 billion in 2015-16. It will also said it was investing Rs 200 crore in Percept Live, of which Rs 50 crore will be invested in creating innovative IPs ‘with global appeal and scaling up its existing IP portfolio.’

Within the live music sphere, 2012 also saw a number of big ticket international stars descending on India for live performances. Metal veterans Megadeth, Jamaican star Sean Paul, and Latino heart throb Enrique Iglesias to Los Angeles hard rockers Guns N’ Roses all performed proving that India was no longer a venue for artists who had exceeded their sell-by-date limit. Although there were reports and rumours of promoters having burnt their fingers on a number of the events, the scale of marketing and promotions, the response from the music lovers across the country and the line- up of stars promised for 2013 (Norah Jones, Slash, Psy, Goyte Jam, Lady Gaga, Blues Brothers) indicated that live music had come of age.

All-in-all, digital music expanded much faster than companies, or for that matter, consumers could grasp its potential, record labels ventured out to multiple their revenue streams, Bollywood stamped its dominance, radio kept swimming in the same pool and live music showed how much potential there was in the industry.