On the streaming highway: Streaming content in India and its challenges

‘Top 50’ music makes its India début

India’s first ‘Top 50’ weekly chart will provide insights into what the country is listening to   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStock

If you’re in the habit of scrolling through the ‘Trending’ and ‘Top 50’ charts on your music streaming apps or the Billboard website, chances are, you’re probably trying to keep up with what’s in. But rankings are not just valuable to listeners; they are also an important instrument for the music world.

“Charts are the industry-accepted barometer of what’s working, and how well it’s working,” says Blaise Fernandes, president and CEO of Indian Music Industry (IMI), the national organisation representing the recording and music industry. “To the consumer, [it’s] a thermometer on what’s hot – a lighthouse to discovery.” Then there are also advertisers, event managers, DJs and restaurant owners – a host of players who use this insight to do better at their jobs.

A first for India

This is why IMI has teamed up with Barcelona-based music monitoring company, BMAT, to give India its first-ever weekly ‘Top 50’ chart, spanning genres and languages. In a country that has at least 100 million active music-streaming users, it’s only surprising that we don’t have one already. Starting in July, the chart will gather data from various streaming platforms and radio stations to provide insights into the listening patterns of Internet users in India. Given that we spend over 21 hours a week listening to music (the global average is 17.8 hours), that information will likely say a lot about our consumption.

And there’s the visibility factor. As Enric Calabuig, head of charts at BMAT, points out, “Charts like these provide international consumers with an entry point to Indian music, making their rich culture all the more accessible to the rest of the world.” And, he adds, knowing what’s popular can help trends evolve faster, with creators pushing their boundaries even further.

Dividing the pie

Currently, India’s music industry ranks 15th globally in terms of revenue, but IMI is keen to bring the country to top 10 status as part of its ‘Vision 2022’ plan. And given that digital revenue formed 78% of the total pie in 2017, streaming platforms are an important part of the ecosystem.

It might be puzzling, then, that data from YouTube will not be factored in the charts. In a country that prefers to ‘watch’ its music, that might skew results. But Fernandes explains the decision by pointing out that the large amount of user-generated content on the platform will make it challenging to assign weightage accurately. “Maybe things will change once there are healthy numbers of the paid services on YouTube,” he says, now that the platform has rolled out its subscription-based music streaming service in the country.

BMAT, which works on chart compiling in 17 countries, believes that its role will give the industry the added benefit of spotting (and reporting) piracy in the platforms that it monitors. And it’ll provide information about how local and international players are performing in the streaming world.

Another insight provided by Calabuig is that even though international apps like Spotify and Apple Music are expanding their footprint, local platforms have their own audience. “There are global players that are consolidating their position, but there are still some local services which have a strong presence in their home markets, particularly in Asia.”


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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 4:42:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/top-50-music-makes-its-india-dbut/article27025840.ece

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