In January 2020 a song called ‘MoTo’ sung by Diler Kharkiya was released. Now, this isn’t anything unusual but it is a surprising one in many ways. The song has since crossed 400 million-plus views on YouTube and has been a rage across other online music streaming platforms as well. But what is unprecedented about the song, written by Ajay Hooda with music by Aman Jaji, is that it is a Haryanvi song and not a popular Bollywood or Punjabi release.
The lesser-known cousin of Punjabi music industry, the Haryanvi music industry has been taking giant strides over the past few years and has grown in leaps and bounds. Traditionally Haryanvi music has been rooted in Indian classical and folk music and still retains much of the ‘desi element’.
Regional music has grown exponentially on streaming platforms in the past few years largely due to deeper mobile broadband penetration and the rise of local superstars.
The Folk vs. Contemporary Conflict
Young and upcoming artists have tried to bridge the traditional elements with the contemporary. While this has found favour with the audience many Haryanvi artists believe the growth of the industry depends very much on retaining the traditional elements.
“Folk music should get more importance. Aping other styles like Bollywood, Punjabi, rap and other genres might push the sales for the time being but its popularity won’t last,” feels Masoom Sharma, one of the leading Haryanvi artists, who has several hit songs like ‘Pallo Latka’, ‘Baba Ban Jyaga’ and many others.
Haryanvis are very rooted people. They are an audio-centric audience who crave for the “desi” element in the song no matter what genre the song is. The language is loved for its rusticness by many, but there are some who have their reservations.
“Haryanvi is a very rustic language so not many people were inclined to listen to these songs earlier. But now the language is more polished, better singers have entered the fray and overall production quality has improved. So people are now taking Haryanvi music a lot more seriously,” added the superstar of Haryanvi music, Raju Punjabi the voice behind hits like ‘Meri Jaan Hai Radha’ and ‘Gohana Ki Jalebi’.
What works for Haryanvi Music?
Haryanvi is the closest language to Punjabi which is considered as second only to Bollywood or Hindi as far as language goes, and the forecast for the Haryanvi Music Industry is highly promising. Many tracks by Haryanvi artists today are amassing a lot of views across online music streaming platforms. Similarly, there are other upcoming artists who are also making their mark on the national stage, indicating the rise of the Haryanvi Music Industry.
Also, all the major players in the north-Indian market and the national market have started investing in Haryanvi catalogues, producing high budgeted videos, which are focused more on Haryanvi Music. But still, unlike their Punjabi counterparts, Haryanvi artists aren’t attracting as many eyeballs.
“The audience is not huge right now but it is growing. I don’t believe in promoting only the song but also the artists. So I set up 2 labels, Wild Music Records and Wild Music Haryanvi under my company Sai Mehar Media. By the end of next year people will have a different perception about Haryanvi music because that’s what I am going to work for,” said Rajiee M Shinde, CEO, Sai Mehar Media.
“There are a lot of challenges like mind sets and acceptability as far as the audience is concerned. My aim is to help the Haryanvi music industry grow by giving it as many platforms as possible thus ensuring a wider reach. It won’t be long before Haryanvi music will be competing with Punjabi music in the films and events space.”
Haryanvi is a growing language on streaming, largely due to a crossover audience in the adjacent states of Delhi, Punjab & NCR. There is high retention on Haryanvi music and that is an encouraging sign for labels & artists.
The OTT and Streaming Platforms’ influence
Despite the pandemic, over the past year around 1200 songs have been released.
The consumption of Haryanvi Music has increased on audio OTT platforms and YouTube as well. We are seeing dedicated regional music curators being hired by streaming platforms, where you have a long list of regional music created for the large fan base in India.
“Along with specific regional music, we can also see local or vernacular fonts being used in playlist names as well as in “notification copies” which has a deeper connect with the audience. Now, streaming platforms are pushing regional music on their official Social Media handles as well, for a greater connect. Even regional music podcasts are being hosted now on streaming platforms for a wider reach. People are looking for innovative ways to entertain their large fan base, especially for regional music,” Mr.Ishan Bhola, Head of North – Label Distribution (Believe Digital) stated.
One more factor that influences the audience, apart from the artist, is that the model featured in the video has to be a popular one. Models like Sapna Chaudhary, Sonali Singh, Anjali Raghav have a huge following. This makes video production an important element for the industry. However, it is a given fact that TV is still one of the best mediums of exposure in the country. Artists can get nation-wide recognition if their songs are televised on national channels.
This exposure can lead to the artists signing more events which will result in revenue generation.
“The videos are still not up to standard. This is largely due to limited budgets. Of course, there is YouTube through which artists can showcase their songs across the world. But not many would search for Haryanvi music on the internet. So the importance of songs being televised, as TV channels have access to almost every household,” explained Shinde.
Expressing his views on promoting Haryanvi music content on his channel, Himanshu Gupta, Head of Programming – 9X Tashan, said,
“This is a completely new offering and where we take it from here will totally depend on our audience reaction and appetite. We are always committed to bringing new ideas and innovation to our viewers.”
10 years back Haryanvi artists were dependent on the music companies. They would invest their own money to record songs, now due to the online platforms, this has changed. Most artists now have their own YouTube and similar channels where they interact with fans from across the world. Now Haryanvi artists are turning towards the film industry. This might just be the fuel for Haryanvi music’s growth and rise, like what we saw with the Punjabi music industry years back.
“While at Showbox TV, I decided to make Haryanvi music an important part of the channel’s content as it required the push that Punjabi music got 17-18 years back. Even Punjabi artists had no platform to showcase their content at that time. Similarly Haryanvi artists also needed a platform and it was important for the stakeholders of the industry to generate revenue. The Haryanvi music industry is still not as structured but it is evolving,” said an optimistic Shinde.