Independent Regional Music: Next Big Thing in India’s Music Scene

Western audiences have always listened to music across genres and their listening choices are not limited to the soundtracks of movies but on the contrary expand over independent artists and bands. This in turn leads to more and more new emerging musicians to enter the field. In India, the trend is a little different i.e. the soundtracks of movies are extremely popular here and playback singers along with music directors are well known and admired greatly.  But lately the trend is shifting towards independent artists and new sounds in music away from Bollywood. Regional music is playing a huge role in this shift with many Punjabi, Tamil, Telegu, Kannada and even Marathi artists changing the way people look at independent albums or singles.

To enable this shift towards independent regional artists, music apps and online streaming has played a huge role. According to reports, the digital video subscription market is estimated to be around 4,000 crores by 2020 and research shows that the increased number of users is due to the increased demand for regional content. Wynk Music has seen solid growth banking on local content in languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi and Kannada. Saavn has launched Artist Originals to promote new independent talent and ensure it reaches the masses. Regional content is also the reason YouTube is seeing phenomenal growth and says viewership has tripled over two years alone.

Cited as being the first Punjabi rapper, Bohemia back in 2002 released his first album “Vich Pardesan De“and it reached the Top 10 on BBC Radio UK in 2002. A lot of Punjabi artists like Hard Kaur, Honey Singh, Daljit Dosanjh, Guru Randhawa, Neha Kakkar, Raftaar,PrabhDeep and Naezy are extremely popular and even though they contribute to Bollywood and Punjabi films they are consistent with their independent releases as well. They support the independent scene and are actively engaged in promoting it.

South India is churning out remarkable talent too. Thaikkudam Bridge from Kochi is a name to reckon with in pushing Carnatic Rock Language to the forefront. Contemporary Kannada is the forte of The Raghu Dixit Project is and is one of the country’s most popular live act. Agam, Swarathma and Avial are also making waves in Kannada music garnering a huge fan following not limited to South India alone. The success of Kannada rap album KA-01 selling over 25,000 copies by Alok Babu or All.OK is a major breakthrough with the songs “Nan Kannadiga” and Young Engo going viral with three million views. Tamil boy band Namma Ooru is hugely popular too. When it comes to Malayalam independent artists, Vidwan is well known for its original music compositions influenced by jazz, hip hop and electronic music. Thakara and Prayaan are also well admired Malayalam bands. The last edition of NH7 had Carnatic musician T.M. Krishna on the festival stage.

Regional music is really gaining momentum with Kolhapur born rapper Bhau rapping in his native Marathi at India’s Got Talent got him collaborations with Universal Music and Qyuki for wider outreach. He also tied up with Silk Road record label. Well known Marathi band 90 Feet Road with Ajinkya Jadhav, Rahul Bhavsar and Shakyamuni Pawar aim to create original Marathi content to preserve the language with the first single Laaj Dhar. Famous music directors Ajay-Atul entered the indie scene with their hit single ‘Zingaat’, thanks to their association with movies.

The linguistic barrier in music is slowly and steadily decreasing with people all over the country listening to music from other languages. Regional artists have a huge fan following thanks to social media and they are putting India on the global music map with their individual different styles and genres.