In the current music scenario, with barely any music sales globally, what makes headlines is a song or video going viral on the net. Today its every artist’s dream to have their song or video go viral with a zillion views or streamed a zillion times.
Most viral songs besides creativity have a significant level of novelty/uniqueness, or else they are associated with big artists/celebrities and the content is interactive with the audience.
But the fact is it’s hard to make a song go viral, no matter how hard you try and most of the times its sheer luck. It’s impossible to gauge how the audience will react and whether or not they’ll share it.
The language of music is universal and is not limited by geographical boundaries. History has proved that even a song whose language is not native to a particular country, but has hit the right nerve, can go viral.
One of the best examples of this is the song ‘Gangnam Style’ by South Korean rapper Psy. The video showed him doing an “invisible horse dance” and saying the catchphrase ‘Oppa Gangnam Style’, which appealed to a global audience and made history in the process. On YouTube, it was the first song to reach 1 and 2 billion views, and on November 24, 2012 became the most watched video, having clocked over 4 billion views on YouTube till recently.
Listen to ‘Gangnam Style’
The official video for the Spanish song ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee on YouTube, received its one billionth view on April 20, 2017 after just 97 days. By August 2017, the song was the most viewed YouTube video with 2.9 billion views. It is also the first and fastest video to hit 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 billion views.
Listen to ‘Despacito’
Closer home, ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’ composed by Anirudh and sung by Dhanush became the highest viewed Indian video on YouTube. The song has more than 264 million YouTube views and is still going strong.
Listen to ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’
That the language of the song is not important for it to go viral is a reality one is left in no doubt about especially in this age of internet. It is not necessary for the song to be sung or composed by an established artist or with a swanky video, to garner views.
The Indian ‘Despacito’ – 52 Gaj Ka Daman
Recently, Desi Records released a Haryanvi song ‘52 Gaj Ka Daman’ sung by Renuka Panwar with lyrics by Mukesh Jaji and composed by Aman Jaji.
What is unique about this song is that it has broken most of the records and has crossed 800 Million+ views on YouTube and more than 2 Billion+ streams on all platforms including YouTube Red, YouTube UGC and other national streaming platforms like Gaana, JioSaavn, etc.
Listen to ‘52 Gaj Ka Daman’
The song has over 14.45 million streams on JioSaavn as of last week and the consumption has not been limited to the state of Haryana or its neighbouring states. It has crossed 53.15% of overall streams in Bihar which is more than Haryana where it has 24.79% of overall streams. The song has performed well in far off states like Maharashtra and Jharkhand with 11.92% and 10.13% of overall streams respectively.
“Unlike the traditional medium, the stream numbers on any digital platform are based on users listening habits, which essentially shows the popularity of the artist & their music. These numbers play an extremely important role in the discovery of the artist, and help put the spotlight on them, which in turn gives them the mainstream reach they are looking for,” expounds Neetu Puri, Associate Vice President of Programming at JioSaavn.
‘52 Gaj Ka Daman’ was conceptualised in 2020 during the lockdown and released on 2nd October 2020.
With crisp promotional strategies across different short video platforms, and the song’s artists sharing it across their personal social media handles, the song became a rage.
Speaking on the same G. B. Aayeer, MD and CEO, PPL India said,
“When regional songs like ‘52 Gaj Ka Daman’ get so much appreciation, support and liking by the audience, it proves that Music has no language barrier. While there is no sure-shot formulae to make a song Hit, when the song has a catchphrase presented melodiously and is capable of pushing you to croon or to the dance floor, it reaches to masses to become a Hit! As a part of the music industry, the success of ‘52 Gaj Ka Daman’ gives me immense pride and happiness.”
But do the YouTube views or streaming numbers of regional songs transform into economic gains too?
“The regional audience prefers YouTube over any other streaming platform. Mostly Haryanvi songs get famous because they make people dance and when that happens the song becomes a hit and tend to break all records. This is the same with the Bhojpuri, Rajasthani and other regional languages. The regional audience prefer watching music videos and hence we try to produce high quality videos,” said Ankit Yadav, Digital Rights Management, Artist Management at BrandzUp(VCOI) Artist Management.
YouTube which has over 44.8 crore users is the second most used app in India. As of 2020, more than 2 Billion users tune in to YouTube every month and consume more than 5 billion videos every day! These are no ordinary numbers.
Though the audio streaming industry has taken the Indian music industry by storm, YouTube still remains the preferred app for Indian music lovers.
With the ease of accessing music from any part of the country, the high density of smartphone users and cheap data rate, regional music industries have found an audience which is not restricted to their state or speak their native language.
Sharing information about the same, Blaise Fernandes, President and CEO of Indian Music Industry (IMI) said,
“Penetration of smartphones is now at 448 Million smartphone users and projected to go up to 973 million by 2025, cheap data packages currently at $0.09 (INR 6.7) per GB and a high millennial consumer base, proliferation of DSP’s, the landscape will be dynamic going forward.”
So how much do the YouTube views matter, in regional markets?
“To me the question is in 2 parts – (1) Do You Tube views really reflect the ground reality of regional markets and (2) how important are YouTube views to break new regional music . In my view to answer the last part first: YouTube remains important to develop any form of music, not just regional music. Except that in regional music YouTube becomes even more critical and important as that’s the only real via media in tier 2, 3 and 4 towns. Combined with mobile broadband availability and 4G handsets owned by consumers, it’s a potent monopoly of sorts to break regional music,” asserted Mandar Thakur, COO, Times Music.
“Now for part 1 of the question – Does YouTube reflect the reality on the ground. My answer is yes – it kind of does. It certainly gives a mirror of what the country is consuming and that’s way more important than any individual track’s information. Although given the sheer amount of music that is advertised on YouTube also makes it hard to figure out what is the real hit today.”
Rise of regional and non-film music
The Indian music industry has traditionally been driven by film music especially Bollywood music. But the non-film segment has been catching up and witnessed a steady growth over the years. Much of this growth has been driven by the non-Hindi speaking regions of the country. The regional music markets, especially Haryanvi, Punjabi and Rajasthani music industries have been making rapid strides too. This has been aided by the streaming platforms.
The consumption of regional music has increased on audio OTT platforms and YouTube as well. We are now seeing dedicated regional music curators being hired by streaming platforms. This has even helped the folk music artists, and classical musicians gain wider exposure on a bigger stage and also provided monetary assistance. A few big artists have made their breakthrough in the digital medium, one of them being the ‘52 Gaj Ka Daman’ singer, Renuka Panwar.
The song has catapulted Renuka into superstardom. It is the most viewed Haryanvi song ever with 833 million + views and counting on official YouTube Video. Globally it is the 16th most viewed music video from India ever and is currently at number 2 on the Top Songs India chart where it has been listed for the last 21 weeks.
The song also garnered 50 million + audio streams. The popularity of the song can be gauged by the fact that there have been numerous remakes and cover versions and the millions of views even they have garnered.
Sharing his thoughts, Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO, India & South Asia at Universal Music Group, said,
“Haryanvi is now a major regional language after Punjabi and it has all the cool swag of mainstream domestic non-film music. So when Renuka Panwar’s ‘52 Gaj Ka Daman’ does these insane numbers I’m thrilled to see it. It only fortifies our stand that the future is no longer film music but non film music also in equal measure if not more. To see it get this kind of love from the Hindi, Punjabi & huge regional belts including their own home regions is very heartening and I wish Ankit Yadav and the teams the very best for all the future music that comes from Desi Records.”
While Renuka is now a sensation, there are a lot of deserving artists out there who have missed out on the digital platforms. But they are still hopeful. More reason for regional artists and labels to be updated with current technology and trends to benefit from the advent of OTTs and music streaming platforms.
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