The independent music scene in India is growing at an increasing rate and is home to many new exciting artists. However, it remains relatively untapped and underrepresented across the international music industry. Anara Publishing aims to bridge the gap between Indian artists and the UK and US sync markets. So independent Indian artists gain the exposure that they deserve. We spoke with our team in India as well as Indian artists from our roster, to hear their thoughts on the current music scene in India.
What is the current independent music scene like in India?
In the words of our Head of Creative Licensing, Malini Hariharan, the current music scene in India “is fragmented and has multiple layers”. On one hand, there is Bollywood which is known by the rest of the world. On the other, “there’s a burgeoning scene of many different genres including hip-hop/rap, electronic, jazz, fusion etc.” The music scene is constantly growing, partly due to “a rising middle class finding its voice.” There has always been Indian Classical music and this is the music that most Westerners associate with India. Malini believes this “has now receeded to the background, but it’s influence is still very much there. There are some young torchbearers upholding the light such as First Edition Arts, Banyan Tree and artists like T.M Krishna. Who are making it more accessible to the next generation.”
What do our artists think?
Furthermore, Anara Publishing artist, Tejas, believes that “it is an exciting time for the independent music scene in India”. Their culture has been dominated by a single entity such as Bollywood for a long time. Previously, “this has dominated people’s perception of music, as most people take their music tastes from the film industry. Or they are at least influenced by what they hear in Bollywood films.”
He goes on to say that, now “people are creating music objectively”. Due to the introduction of the internet and access to a vast quantity of new music. ‘World Music’ is quickly becoming a redundant term. As Tejas states: “they are starting to draw influence from 100 years of pop music and making their own brand of music”. Many new hybrid genres are being formed and an artist’s sound often sits somewhere between multiple labels/genres. Anara artist Siddharth Basrur adds to this by stating that the independent scene in India “has a lot of potential”. Plus, “there’s so much talent out there just waiting for something to help them take the next step (or the next several) forward.”
What is the difference between the mainstream and independent scene in India?
Malini states that the “mainstream is Bollywood, it’s in the films, which are still a huge part of the culture here”. In contrast, the independent scene is smaller and has a smaller audience. A number of venues and festivals have contributed to the development of the independent scene. “There’s a space to perform it now, which didn’t exist earlier”. When asked how independent music is discovered in India, Malini responded “through festivals, YouTube, blogs such as homegrown, wildcity, and influencers”, to name a few. So, independent music is discovered in a very similar way to the UK. Additionally, streaming platforms are now making an effort to support independent music.
What are the benefits of having publishing representation?
Nowadays, a lot of new music is discovered through synchronisation. Artists without sync representation are missing out on these potential opportunities. Also, royalty collection is an area that a lot of artists are unaware of. A music publisher can help the artist receive revenue that they were previously unaware of.
Anara artist Siddharth Basrur believes that “in India, most artists don’t even know how publishing works.” He states that “the concept of publishing houses has been around in the UK for a while. So I feel like there’s a better chance for my music to be heard, in a lot more places”.
Further to this, Tejas explains how he “used to watch a lot of TV and movies and that’s how he discovered a lot of music that he liked”. Then he would try to find the name of the song, which was an exciting experience. At the time, without resources such as Shazam and Tunefind, it wasn’t easy to do. He always felt as though his music could fit into a lot of different contexts, because of his ambiguous lyrics. Therefore, it would be suitable for a wide range of sync opportunities.
Since choosing Anara Publishing, Tejas believes that his music is well represented and exposed to the right people. He explains that “Deborah is constantly on the move to get his music out there. To get his music in front of a lot of different ears”. This international exposure is so important to Tejas as he wants people to think “oh this is the music that is coming from India” and be pleasantly surprised. Through the assistance of a music publisher, the rest of the world is becoming aware of the high quality music coming from India.
Similarly, Malini believes that our aim is to “change the perception of Indian music” as it has “always been likened to a sort of mysticism on one hand and Bollywood on the other”. At Anara, we aim to fill the huge gap between the two and “we want the world to tune into contemporary India and see all the colours in a new light”.
Although the future of the Indian industry, like the global industry, is hard to predict. Due to its volatile nature. Malini hopes to see “more structure, more transparency and subsequently more artists and labels following some kind of discipline and process”.
In recent years, the internet has made it easier for an independent artist to publish their music. One doesn’t need the assistance of a label anymore. It’s all DIY. As Malini explains “it’s an industry that’s slowly trying to establish itself and build a structure with booking agents, managers, etc. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s slowing forming.”
Exciting times ahead…
Things are fast-paced and the world is changing everyday. As Malini explains “nowadays you see music that’s not in films being exported, which is the start of something exciting”. Parekh and Singh are an independent act from India. They are now signed to a label in the UK and are touring outside the country extensively. This is just one example of several bands who are making their way into international festivals. More specifically “the hip-hop scene has suddenly burst open and is probably one of the most authentic voices amidst this DIY culture.”
It’s an exciting time for the industry as a whole as the opportunities available to independent artists has never been greater. More so to emerging global markets such as India. Expect some exciting new releases from the Anara Publishing roster in 2019.