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Streaming powers the exponential growth of the independent music sector



Independent music is seeing a resurgence in India with talents emerging from all corners of the country. With an agenda of finding new talent, brands now look forward to supporting artists by giving them an established language-agnostic platform that will help take their music to the audience.

It was recently on the occasion of World Music Day, Red FM launched ‘Red Indies’ at an event held in New Delhi in a bid to promote independent music and artists. Other brands such as Saavn, Gaana, and Hungama, too, have taken initiatives for independent music in the past.

It is not unknown how major record labels have always been at the epicentre of the music business with their marketing and distribution muscle to make any song into a chart-topper and give it a global presence.

With independent music and artists making the cut into this competitive industry, a lot has changed in the music industry, especially because of the power the independent music received through music streaming services. Music streaming revolutionised the industry, giving artists more exposure, a voice and not left at the mercy of the labels as some would say.

Artists without record labels generated $643.1 million in 2018, up 35% from 2017. These independent artists represent the fastest-growing segment of the global recorded music business, a segment of global scale with real impact and influence. They are also more streaming native than label artists, a MiDia report said.

The report added, streaming income, along with earnings from live performances, make up the majority of artist revenues today. For independent artists, streaming is now their primary source of income at 30%.


So, what about the role of labels?

Artists now view labels very much as one possible means to an end. Less than a third of independent artists consider it important to be signed to a label, while for label artists this rises to a little more than half. Being signed to a label often does little to ease an artist’s financial woes. Overwhelmingly, both independent and label artists do not feel that they earn enough from music to not worry about their financial situation.

In reality, independent artists in India have already joined hands with Bollywood, donning the role of playback singers or session musicians for soundtracks in order to make a living. Movie producers have also become more open to placing up-and-coming artists in their soundtracks (contrary to what the legacy, monopolistic composers may prefer).

Most artists, today, have ‘plural careers’. Whether signed to a label or not, over two-thirds of artists feel they will have to keep up other work alongside music in order to make ends meet.

Artists’ definition of success is very much culture first, then cash. They are looking for respect and recognition first and foremost. With this respect and recognition, they can become viable touring acts with the chance to earn loyal fan bases.

It is just as well that artists take a culture first, cash second attitude as most artists should not expect to earn a living from music without something close to divine intervention. Nearly three-quarters of independent artists earn less than $10,000 a year from music, and average incomes are also low even for signed artists.

Despite the challenges of a music career, the vast majority of artists now feel they have more control over their careers than ever before. With their choices, both increasing and improving, nearly two-thirds of artists have a positive outlook about their career path.

The modern-day artist has the flexibility and freedom to make choices – but how do they make the right choices? While the vast majority of artists do not want to lose creative control, most of them are open to influence and advice about their creative direction.



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