Brace Yourself. Spotify is Coming…

Arts & Culture Business

The music streaming giant confirmed plans to brace Indian shores. On its arrival, you could essentially have access to songs and other content from artists all over the world...

By Ajay Ramanathan

Bengaluru, Feb. 05, 2019.

Meet Navneet Shiv. He is a lead vocalist for the band All Seeing Eye. To put it simply, Shiv is an IT professional by day and a headbanger by night. Citing the rapper Tech N9ne as one of his influences, Shiv describes his band’s style as ‘metal’. The band was featured in the webzine metalinjection, that described their sound as ‘ schizo-jazzy-tech-death ’. All Seeing Eye have just finished an album. ♮

They are not alone. In a nation where film music occupies the throne, Spotify could open up a whole new world for independent artists. “Indian artists are in surplus. Through Spotify, they have a platform as well as recognition,” Audio Engineer Vishrut Rajendran noted. ♪

A 2018 report by Nielsen concluded that Indians spend an average of 20 hours per week listening to music online. Furthermore, 16.9 percent of consumers stream music through audio services. In the United States, that number stands at 23 percent. Rajendran agrees with this assessment. “These days, physical albums have become obsolete. Hence, streaming would bring more popularity to Indian artists.” ♩

Rajendran also highlighted the complex relationship between artists and record labels as a defining factor. “Spotify in the United States has gone through issues with labels when artists have not received royalties.” Rajendran believes that Spotify could essentially play the role of labels wherein, artists would receive Advertising through AdSense.” “Spotify could bridge the gap between Indian music streamers and independent artists,” he added.

However, there is a flipside. “ Bollywood will always have the lion’s share,” Shiv remarked. “ The money you make from streaming will not be more than 100 dollars, which is not sufficient for an independent artist. The only incentive one gets is that their music could become popular. However, that doesn’t qualify as a fan base. Hence, the circumstances remain the same for a niche artist. ” ♫

Shiv believes that the Internet ruined the music industry. “ As a result of the Internet, music fans are exposed to many different artists and genres.” Shiv contends that this dilutes the value of individual artists and the hard work that they put in.

Music Journalist Anurag Tagat however, was optimistic about Spotify’s prospects. “The brand value that Spotify has, even in a country where it hasn’t even launched yet, is pretty strong and I think they can capitalize on that.“ In fact, a November 2018 report suggested that the music streaming service would be available to Indian listeners within six months.  ♬

Rajendran contends that the famed app is necessary as it ensures that artists don’t need to deal with record labels. “Record labels tend to stifle the independence of artists. For e.g. the level of freedom in a major label would be limited. Spotify alone bolsters an artist’s popularity.”

The scenario is not too different in India. Rajendran classifies music consumers as frequent listeners and cherry-pickers. “These days, nobody has the patience to listen to an entire album. Even 100,000 streams of a song can increase the prominence of an artist and help them earn royalties.” Speaking further on Indian artists, Rajendran said, “DIVINE (rapper) was instrumental in putting Naezy on the map. I was at a Naezy concert where the audience was essentially laughing at him. ♭

As a result of streaming services, influencers like actor Ranveer Singh would become aware of these artists. This would essentially bridge that gap between artists and the average Indian music listener. ” A biopic on the Naezy and DIVINE is slated to be released mid- February.

Spotify is not merely an artist’s beacon of hope. It is also a music listener’s delight. “Spotify has a beautiful platform with an amazing interface,” Rajendran remarked. “There is not one piece of content that I haven’t found on Spotify be it music, podcasts, etc…”  ♬

The big question is whether Spotify would be able to capitalize on its potential. Although Spotify is yet to comment on its prospects in India, reports suggest that India’s leading music and film company T-series has agreed to a global content deal with the Swedish streaming giant.

“I think they will also have offers to make to India’s independent musicians just like other streaming apps have done with the aim of building partnerships,” Tagat noted. “How much this helps their music on a global scale will remain to be seen, but I think they will get more promotion for sure.”