Home » Feature » The Indian live music industry – An analysis by Sabbas Joseph, Director, Wizcraft : Part 1

The Indian live music industry – An analysis by Sabbas Joseph, Director, Wizcraft : Part 1




The Indian live music industry is always evolving and the audiences are becoming more discerning. However, India is big market and there is still a lot of room and potential for the scene to grow. The live music industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.3% by 2022, according to a recent study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

How big will be India’s share of this pie?

Who better to talk to about the live music event industry in India than the firestarter himself ? Sabbas Joseph, co-Founder-Director Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt Ltd, spoke at length to Music Plus about where the Indian live music industry stands today and what is its future. In the first part of this exclusive interview, Sabbas shares his views about how the Indian live music industry has developed and the key reasons for the recent upsurge.
A lot of people ask Sabbas how the year has been for the Indian live music industry. I am one of them. He answered my question with a sage like smile….

You cannot look at what happened in the last year in isolation. You have to take last year in the context of what has happened over the past 3 years and what will happen in the next 3 years. When you look at this period, you will see the rebooting of the music industry and the beginnings of the ‘live music movement’.

How it all began

There was an era where music was top of the charts and then it slumped. The good thing that happened in the last 3 years is that the creative fraternity, their ownership and the business interests of the music industry aligned together. They began to work together, bringing in rapprochement and agreement with IPRS, PPL and the agreements between artists and music labels. An era of collaboration has come into being.
While there may still be some changes left, especially the ‘one window for license of music for live events’, I believe those too will come.

That was the first part. The copyright law coming into place was the second. These were big and historic developments as their non-existence was keeping crucial pillars from working together in unison.

The Indian live music industry is seeing growth on multiple fronts: concerts across the country -growing beyond the major metros, concerts in colleges creating an opportunity for new artistes, indie artistes, and new genres; festivals have mushroomed across the country.

Each of them embracing different formats and distinct programming genres; self-publishing is now commonplace. The internet audience embraces all; the unconventional is now the convention -being different is good, travelling on the safe path is no longer cool and probably unsafe.

Music is helping different communities and tribes to come together as one, helping them create their own paradigms and more importantly helping them define themselves.

Indian live music industry

It has been embraced by brands, sometimes defining their brands by the music genres that their audience embraces. Music is no longer the refuge of alcohol brands; it is being woven into the marketing arsenal of FMCG, mobile phones, mobile services, apparel, online stores, etc.
Music is everywhere!

But not everything is perfect and many legalities need to be corrected, isn’t it?

You have a copyright law now, an IPRS-PPL royalties system in place and I think you can only improve from here. The acceptance and re-definition of the royalty ecosystem and the approach that “we will work together” are the cornerstones on which the future rests. We will keep getting better.

Has this helped the Indian live music industry?

The festival organisers and IP creators have taken advantage and grown because of the opportunities now available, and are considerably more serious than before. You have to look at the success of certain properties like NH7, Sunburn and Supersonic. You have to realise that they pursued a certain format, genre and have been committed to it for years. This has ensured their growth and has helped build their presence. They now attract a committed audience. Major brands want to be associated with them because of their consistency and scale, which has made them larger, campaignable and desirable.

Has their success rubbed off on each other?


Let’s look at the major music festivals.
Each had their own thought process. Sunburn got the best electronic artists from the world. While, NH7 gave a platform to the best and also new indie artists.  Supersonic began as a “copy cat in Goa” but cleverly became multi-genre and multi-stage creating their own identity.
If you watch closely you can see where each of the festivals succeeded or failed. Each of them had different failings. But they were learning from each other’s mistakes which ensured that they didn’t repeat the same mistakes….this resulted in their overall success over the last few years.
Many other festivals sprung up and died. Anything that was not logically sustainable collapsed naturally. Anything that could be persevered and had commercial viability or distinct uniqueness, survived.

In this phase, survival itself was important. The viability of the format was immaterial to the growth. NH7 grew to 7-10 venues and then came down to two massive festival cities: Pune and Shillong. They knew how they could win and they did it successfully .NH7 has evolved into a “destination music festival” bringing together fans and creating an ecosystem in each of their destinations. This clear proposition has helped it grow a loyal audience and also built on the “happiness” quotient and “discovery” potion.

Survival of the fittest

Many IP’s died because they had no sustaining proposition including perseverance, pursuit, consistency, longevity, future thinking and a clear positioning. The first phase of the growth of music festivals ended last year while during this period people began to get their act in order.  Those continuing have the will, those who felt they could not sustain have left the scene.

I think the forced relocation of Sunburn’s annual year-end finale disturbed the festival, its audience, its equity, and vibe too. While Sunburn’s loss was not too apparent thanks to the pursuit of uniqueness and ingenuity of the organizers, the bigger loss is Goa’s. While the state’s tourism and tourism ecosystem lost one of its biggest kickers and economic triggers,  the EDM audience lost their Goa jamboree.

Chapter 2 starts now. The IP’s coming up in the future will adopt the success strategies of their predecessors. These properties will be stronger, commercially more viable, more regimented and will have multiple facets and will be highly monetizable.

In the next part, Sabbas dwells upon the survival factor, viability of a nationwide tour and a few other important topics. Stay connected to Music Plus to know the master’s views.



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