India: The Consumption of Music has grown over 600% In The Digital Age


Mandar Thakur is the COO of Times Music, so when he talks people usually take note, and he recently opened up about the India music market and it’s worth and direction to Ruhail Amin from Exchange For Media.

The music industry is currently estimated to be in the range of Rs 850-Rs 870 crores while the industries like radio and music TV channels that depend on it have become 100 times bigger over the course of time.

While attempts are being made to make the core industry more streamlined, challenges galore to make it happen.

According to Mandar Thakur, COO, Times Music, “The industry was in decline for many years because of piracy, people not paying for music, etc., but the last two years have seen growth. Fiscal ending 2017 witnessed 26 per cent growth while fiscal ending 2018 witnessed 35 per cent growth.

Aided by factors like digital licensing and streaming we are back as an industry in terms of growth. The consumption of music has grown by 600 per cent and it means more value for our industry. Lately the industry suffered because users have challenged rights and other things. But it has come to a point where recorded industry has bounced back and users are consuming music again and again. So it is time to consolidate.”

Talking about the issues facing the music industry today, Thakur said, “There is creative challenge in terms of how to come out of the shadow of the film industry. We are always seen as a subset of the film industry. Music industry needs to become an industry with its own stars and not film stars.

There is also the issue of value gap — royalties being paid, systems being made, and this is an old challenge. It is also important that all kinds of users respect copyright and pay money for that. Finally, the other big issue is that the industry was never together and our legislations were interpreted in any which way anybody wanted, but today the industry has come together, even the regional industry is joining us, and this unity is certainly helping.”

When asked how the shift to digital has impacted the music industry and whether digital has made monetisation a tougher game, Thakur added, “I think it is about what consumers want and it is just that the medium of consumption has changed. Consumers want to carry their music with them in the cloud and want to listen whenever they want to. Today it is all about the consumers.”

Thakur also spoke about making licensing systems more effective to grow the music industry beyond its current estimates. “It’s an 850 crore industry and other industries which survive on music are like hundred times higher. For us it is important to have discussions and collective management like Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) that will collect from multitude of sources. We are also part of an economy where it is about value-per-unit, we are talking about volume business now, it’s about per capita and growth will only come in if we have the net where the penny drops.

As long as our distribution systems are in place and negotiations are correct, I think we should able to grow further. Also, the more the copyright law gets clearer, the more the societies get active and the more industry growth will happen. And finally, as said, we need to have our own stars; we have to come out of the shadow of Bollywood. There was India pop industry in the mid 90s and the biggest stars were there.

Today if you look at the Punjabi music industry, it is a massive industry and it has proven that music industry can grow without films too”, stated Thakur.


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