by Manoj Dawane, CEO - People Infocom (MAUJ)
Indian culture has always been deeply linked to music; we Indians are known to be a musical race! We are also a country which is young & vibrant, whose young people are evolving in their tastes and are more open to accepting changes. Nearly half of India’s population today is under the age of 20 with a huge spending power, and that has brought about a sea of changes in India’s economy, giving birth to a series of trends and a plethora of products to cater to these emerging trends.
Digital music is one of the prime examples of this changing face of India, a concept that has truly revolutionized the way Indians consume music. The young Indian is mobile, outgoing and veering towards a wirefree life. Mobile phones have become an extension of a user’s own personality with caller tunes, ringtones, polytunes and the latest mobile phone models becoming a form of personal expression. Mobile phones are no longer just a means of communicating; they have transformed into veritable entertainment consoles in their own right. This is evident from the fact that handset manufacturing companies are releasing newer, sleeker products with built in features such as MP3 players, FM radio, Walkman, Real Player along with storage capacity of anything between 1000 – 3000 songs. With the way these phones are flying off the shelves, it would be fitting to say that Digital Music is here to stay in a big way.
Most of the recent studies conducted on the Digital Music industry in South Asia second this perspective. According to the study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Indian Federation of Phonographic Industry, digital music in India is going to surge ahead of physical music sales by the end of this year. Mobile music, which is the principal component of the Indian digital music industry, is witnessing close to four lakh ringtones being downloaded on a daily basis. According to reports, the Indian music industry is expected to reach a phenomenal Rs 4,100 crore by 2009, nearly triple of what it was in 2005. Mobile music is looked at as the key driver of this increase, expected to generate almost 88% of the revenues in the next 2-3 years. The growth is apparent from the fact that Mobile VAS companies like Mauj are witnessing almost 50,000 downloads per day.
The digital music universe in India is made up of 90% Mobile music downloads including ringtones, caller tunes, polytunes, etc, while the rest 10% is made up of online music downloads. This comes as no surprise, as India is the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world, and by the end of 2007, should be able to boast of a whopping 250 million handsets in the hands of its burgeoning youth.
Another interesting point is the fact that the penetration of high-end, music enabled phones is not restricted to the urban youth of the country, doing away with the common error of crediting growing spending power to people residing in the metros and cities of India. Infact, it is the interiors of India and the tier II, tier III towns that actually form a huge segment of the upwardly mobile, cash-happy and trend setting crowd. These individuals are willing to spend more money to buy high-end products and do not mind shelling out more cash to have cutting edge music-enabled phones. Add to this the fact that the penetration of mobile phones in India is growing at a fast pace, and you have partly answered the question – How is Digital Music so popular in India?
This brings us to the second part of the answer about the popularity of Digital Music, especially mobile music in India. Indians have a strong affinity for Bollywood and Devotional music, which they would like to listen to on-the-go, resulting in a huge demand for such ringtones and caller tunes. The Mobile VAS market, which chips in with about 25% of the total music business in the country, is dominated by these music categories. In or