Film-Specific Music Still Accounts for As Much As 90% of All Listening on Spotify India — But That Balance is Shifting

Spotify India
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Spotify India
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Photo Credit: David Pupăză

Film-specific music still accounts for up to 90% of all listening on Spotify India, but that balance is shifting with performer-driven independent tracks coming in at a faster clip.

Spotify reports that, although film music still dominates listenership in India, making up between 70-90% of all the country’s consumption on the platform, independent tracks driven by artists in collaboration with labels alone are catching up at a remarkable clip.

Last year, the most streamed song on Spotify in India was not part of a film; “Maan Meri Jaan” by King and Saurabh Lokahnde saw over 275 million streams. Along with King, other artists emerging as fan favorites in non-film music in India include AP Dhillon, Anuv Jain, and Kanishk Seth.

The trends vary across languages, accounting for the wide disparity in percentages — in Punjabi, non-film music accounts for 90% of all consumption, but in Hindi, where film music still reigns supreme, that figure is closer to 20%.

“We would love to see a 50:50 balance between film and independent music, but that shift is happening gradually,” said Amarjit Singh Batra, Managing Director at Spotify India and General Manager of SAMEA (South Asia, Middle East, Africa). “When we came to India, we realized it’s a market of 1.3 billion people, but there aren’t enough artistes [musical performers] in the country because film music remains the barometer of success. This country has a huge musical heritage and opportunities for user-generated content have opened up in the last few years.”

That’s due predominantly to Spotify’s investments in its For Artists platform, which regularly shares data with creators on the consumption habits of their listener base. Over 28,000 artists from India use Spotify For Artists — more than double the amount over the past year.

“They can know who is listening to them or who else those people are listening to, which could impact how collaborations happen and give artistes an opportunity to tap into other people’s audiences, besides giving them insights on where fans are located so they can go hold events,” said Batra.

Devraj Sanyal, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music India and South Asia, and Senior Vice President of Strategy at Universal Music Africa, Middle East, Asia, said that while film music will continue to top the charts in India, the emerging “artiste-first” ecosystem will enable songs to find association “with singers instead of the actors they have been filmed on.”

Spotify has operated in India for five years now, and the region is the platform’s top 79th market worldwide. The company says that nearly 70% of listeners were streaming international music at launch, but now over 70% are turning to local music. Similarly, the worldwide consumption of Indian music has seen an 85% year-on-year increase in 2023 alone.