Changing trends of music consumption in India!


Do you have a cassette player / Walkman at home? What was the last time you bought a CD / DVD / Blue ray for music?

Well, it’s not difficult to assume your answers simply because the way we have been consuming music is changing very frequently. It is the era of digital music and social sharing, where torrents help you connect with other computers on world wide web and download music to your system.

In fact, even the music player in my car is hungry for CDs, as I always plug in my 8GB data drive that has more than 1000 songs organized in folders of my choice. It is even possible to connect music players to mobile devices and play music via Bluetooth.

Spending Rs. 500 for purchasing a CD/DVD on new music monthly is not something many would want to do, when pirated (or original) music is available online for free or for fraction of a price. Spending a few dollars on your favorite internet radio with live streaming is a much saner option.

Music directors have been requesting to buy original CDs of their music, I feel sad on their frustration as they are just trying to restrict our freedom to download and not trying to analyze how these free downloads can be monetized instead. Their calls to consumer for buying original CDs has gone to deaf ears!

Nowadays even filmmakers have started to understand that with lenient cyber laws in India, it is futile to even ask audience to buy original CDs as downloading digital music is more of a smarter option than calling it a theft/piracy.

For example, the music tracks of film F.A.L.T.U, directed by Vashu Bhagnani were launched only on digital platform – allowed viewers to pay reasonable amount and download music.

faltu music

Priced at Rs 40 for album and Rs 10 per song for digital tracks is a wonderful idea as this is what the F.A.L.T.U’s target audience is used to; listening to digital music and pay only reasonable. I believe this would have helped FALTU’s team to shoot up revenues like never before and at the same time cutting down the costs of CDs and their distribution. Thereby, enjoying huge bottom line and saving the environment.

It is my earnest request to music directors to make music available in digital formats and make it legal to download because when one buys a CD it gets difficult to find a software, convert in different formats, and then listen in mobile phones, iPods and laptops; however that’s not the case with digital music. Infact, it is better to find ways to monetize digital music which the millennial generation is comfortable with.

What say ?

  1. atulkumar says

    i am planning to set up a music portal..similar to is this illegal. if yes then waht to do for make it legal.

  2. SNS says

    Hi folks,
    I’m new here, but this discussion was getting too provocative for me to keep quiet. So here’s some more –

    I’d like to first present my views on what someone termed ‘art’ as ‘worthless to the nation’.

    1. Nation. India. What is her identity? Is it steel? Oil? Cement? Let’s face the fact – it is her music, dance, sculpture, heritage – art, art and art! If there’s anything that makes one person or nation stand out from the others in a unique and positive way, how the hell can someone call it worthless? India is respected today for her rich art and culture – which one cannot find anywhere else in the world. Raga music is one such thing that is unique to India – a crucial identity of Indian culture. How can we term it as worthless? To add to this point – the tourism industry of India is minting money because of intrinsic Indian art. Isn’t that adding to the GDP? Still worthless???

    2. Let’s consider this example – People like Lata Mangeshkar may have lakhs and crores in their bank account. The question is whether they deserve it. Well, in a way, we should say Yes. Lataji’s voice has not only offered entertainment, it has offered peace, solace and happiness to millions of people around the globe – something that oil, steel and cement cannot offer. Art has the power to touch lives. No amount of money can create this magic.

    3. All infrastucture / physical assets and no art is like body without soul. If one cannot appreciate art, it is not ‘art’ that is worthless, it is the peron’s life and intellect that is worthless. Art is a part of ‘holistic education’. A well read man, a good orator, a poet, an artist would always be admired or respected more than one without these qualities. Art makes a person a complete man/woman, not Raymonds.

    4. If certain artistes get paid in crores, it is not any one person’s fault. It simply follows economics. A higher demand will fetch a higher price! C’mon – SRK IS in high demand… it’s the people’s choice, not the producer’s.

    It is a very sad scene for music today, most of you may not realise it. CDs don’t get sold, and nobody pays for internet downloads. So, in India, guess where the money from digital music sources comes from? It may be shocking, but the biggest source of this money is “CALLER BACK TUNES” or what we call ‘hello tunes’ on mobile phones!!! Indians are paying up for just a few seconds of music, but not for a complete musical experience on a CD! So musicians are forced to create ‘mobile friendly music’. What crap! This may eventually lead to so many rich forms of Indian music dying away, for example – folk music (it doesn’t sell enough on mobiles) – which is the origin of all Indian music forms! So thanks to piracy, music producers are slowly moving from the high quality CDs to low quality MP3s, caller tunes and other inferior digital avenues, and killing good music in the bargain. And trust me, they do not make enough money in this process. The crores are reserved for hardly one percent of the artistes.

    It is of course true that a fool-proof way must be deviced to stop piracy, but should we leave this responsibility only to the government? Aren’t we, the educated, ethical and responsible population of this nation, capable of thinking and coming up with ideas and insights? Should we simply join the crowd and continue this pilferage until one fine day far in the future, someone says STOP? If we wait for that day, half of our own music would be dead by then. Then we may call it worthless.

    Art is not worthless; it is we who fail to realise its worth, thus making ourselves worthless.

    A long one! ;)

    – SNS

  3. Altaf Rahman says

    @ Sri,

    Thanks for the comment. I understand when you pointed to my ‘dal roti’ issue.

    What I mean to say is lets take my own experiance. I am working on a oil pipeline project. My company pays me salary. I can earn enough to save. The pipeline we are building will transport fuel to energy hungry industries for 50 years to come. We are creating assets here.

    Now compare this to SRK. For each film he (and his likes) charge crores to “act” in a movie. It takes 3 months to make a movie and one week after the release, no one remembers that. The movie is virtually worthless. The producer tries to recover all his investments movie making costs and the remuneration paid to these actors from the DVD sales.

    Comparing to our efforts in creating assets for mankind and some one “acting” for some time are same? I dont think so. But whats happening? The people “acting” gets crores, fame. Do they deserve it? Most importantly when the producer can not recover his investment, do they deserve it? I dont think so.

    Also these “acting” people during interviews cry that they are “working hard”. When I refer to the “acting” people, I refer to all movie industry. When I see the interview, I assume that they are telling us that the whole film industry is “working hard”

    I said “dal roti” in that context. I mean to say if producers pay pittence then their business model will work.

    IMO, art comes after one’s tummy is full. We are a growing society. We dont need to treat art as more priority than creating national assets. IMO even a sweeper with a broom in hand is doing more priority work than SRK.

    Looks like I am spilling more and more two paisas here :) I keep my balance two paisas for other articles now.

  4. Ankit Joshi says

    yes i agree that even bollywood has stolen music from hollywood. and there have been many such incidents in the past, but u must understand one thing that even stealing music is not that easy. even that needs talent. but lets not divert from the topic. because of a few music directors who steal from hollywood music those should not suffer who work day and night to create awsome music to entertain us. their work should get paid. their have to be some provisions made by the government of india to put a stop on this. though i would be amongst the ones who would be in loss but this should be done. Apart from ethics it would have a great impact on the indian economy. just imagine all the stuff which we have been stealing yet we will have to pay for it.
    first of all a household would limit its downloading according to its budgeted expenses. apart from that when we would pay for the downloaded stuff there would be a sudden flow of currency in the market and this will be a huge market. this would take up the GDP but not inflation because no new currency notes are being printed its just that the household spendings would increase. though i am not aware about the consequences this is what i could thought of at the moment.
    their cant be free access allowed ever. if you are working somewhere and suppose ur employer asks kindly allow us free access to ur services would u agree?

    1. Altaf Rahman says

      @ Ankit,

      Once again you have drawn me into a good debate. As above again I noted 2 points from your comment.

      1) One must understand (I add – and must respect) that nowadays stealing music is very difficult as it needs talent. Now I say piracy also commands the same respect as it too is stealing and it is also not easy. Unlike stealing music by composers, pirates also have to face the law while operating. Because it is officially termed illegal while successful thief of music will be called music king.

      2) Impact of piracy on economy : Now this is a heavy subject. My explanation is something like this. Soppose Mr. A has budgeted 1000 rupees for music. He ended up spending only 250 for the same quantity of music. Now you are saying that only 250 went into national economy while the other 750 remained stagnent in Mr. A’s pocket and started decomposing and stinking. But thta’s not the case.
      Now thanks to Mr. Pirate, he is able to take his family out and spend the remaining 750 rupees. Instead of stinking in Mr. A’s pocket, the 750 found its way into national economy. If not for his families outing, he might have spent on some fancy gadgets or may be on buying some books to his kids. At the worst, he keeps that money in the bank and the bank might use the money in some uses of national interest like giving loan to Ambani to start an industry, there by creating jobs.

      The only difference between your statement and mine is the jobs thus created with the 750 rupees shifted from music industry to some other industry. But they were created!! So no loss to national economy.

      In fact thats what I said in my above comment “with piracy, the film industry is getting ‘x’ thousand crores less than anticipated”. I did not say that much money is lost in thin air. It is used for some other pleasures of Mr. A’s life.

      Finally what I say is (may be my views are not same as mainstream views) art is NOT industry. Industry is some thing which creates a physical asset like steel, cement, roads, bridges. It requires hardwork. It not only creates jobs for those working in that industry, but also produce some asset of use to national economy.

      Now dance, paintings, sculptures, songs, poems and all such art forms only feed those creating them. They dont create any asset which is of any use to nation. Therefore my theory is, while people who are working hard in creating national assets are paid only salaries, those who are creating things of beauty (which are of no use to nation) are getting crores and also getting respect from people too!! (I refer to your comment arguing in support of these artists)

      Let us assume a music composer is great, agreed. He has created a masterpiece, agreed. Then how come he gets more money than a steel maker? A cement maker? Nobody even knows them by name or face!! While a music thief is hailed by people and even gets media coverage!!

      My argument is the financial model of music industry is not working not because of piracy, its not working becasue music composers gets crores.

      Instead of paying crores to a music composer and try to get that money from customers (by charging hundres per CD) and cry when pirates sell it for 50 rupees is not a sound financial model. Pay just daal roti to the composer and try to recover only 50 per CD from customers. It will work. More over as there is no big difference, the pirates will not get profits and they disappear!!

      You are putting 2 people in their places. Bring down composers from 7th heaven to ground and eliminate piracy.

      Apply same logic to film actors (then the budget of movies goes down) Ask SRK and others to work for daal roti and pass on cost reduction to end users. You dont need to sell cinema tickets for 50 rupees, you can sell them for 5 rupees (which is a benifit to people)

      The reduced costs will discourage pirates and no more piracy.

      Just another two paisa :)

      1. Satyam Gambhir says

        @Altaf – great thoughts.

        Though seems difficult to implement. I understand the model is wrong somewhere.

        The discussion is getting interesting. :)

      2. Sri says

        Your concluding statement “The reduced costs will discourage pirates and no more piracy.” is right on the spot but your approach to reducing that cost is not realistic, IMO.

        Paying just daal roti to composers may not be the only option to get music cheap (sounds like a socialism to me), lot of premium things eventually became commodity due to economics of scale or new business models, not because producers in that domain are eating rotis

  5. Ankit Joshi says

    I completely agree with you my friend. Actually we wont like to spend 500-1000 bucks for something like music which is available. Music piracy has actually brought down the value of music. nobody understands its value its importance. The music composers do so much hard work to create music and we steal all their work and and listen to it and then forget it. Creating Music could never be understood by theives like us.
    now though it is us who steal Music but its our governmet who has given access to it. In America, Cyber laws are so strics that u cant access torrent sites or download music from sites like , cooltoads etc. Even if u try to access u get caught. while in india we can easiy access any sight to download pirated music, movies, softwares and games.
    now its a very innovative idea whosoever’s was it to make music available at the site of the movie before it is released anywhere else. this way music directors could have more earnings for their talent.

    1. Altaf Rahman says

      @ Ankit Joshi,

      I take your comment in two parts.

      1) What you said about in US accessing music at torrents is strict. In my above comment thats what I exactly said. Either they come up with a fool proof way of controlling the data and charge more money or allow free access. Whats happening is sincere people are paying more than all the oterh people for the same stuff. The sincere people are becoming fools.

      2) Now what you said about music composers working very hard is a debatable issue :) How many times we hear about the famous music composers in Hindifilm industry (you know whom it refers) stealing music from oterh sources or film makers stealing ideas from english industry.
      Please note I am not taking sides. But opening another debate for all those who would like to jump in :)

      1. Satyam Gambhir says

        @Ankit and @Altaf

        See I have my own reservations here.
        Imagine if was charging you Rs10 for reading its articles, or google charging you a few dollars everytime you search/read some content!!!

        Seems very discomforting, right?

        We cannot even imagine to pay for reading some content (someone has worked hard to write it, isnt it?); the point I want to convey here is, when Google could figure out a way to give you free content and still earn though it; why can’t music industry figure out a model which provides free content (music) and find out ways to monetize the free distribution.

        Google did it with (relevant) ads; something can be worked around music tracks too!

        I dont know whether US or any other country has banned some downloading sites and India hasn’t. If they have done so, i am don’t bolster the activity.

        According to me, there has to be a way which makes my favorite music reach me for free and the composer gets some way to make money too. (thats the google way).

  6. GT says

    satyam, nice article, but did you actually try downloading the songs at their FALTU site ? if no, then pls try and update the article.
    Well, I did and the experience is terrible – after reading your article I just felt the urge to atleast try this things out.
    First – site isnt sending any registration mail the first time – its saying SMTP error! – try it few times , it sends an email.
    Second – I made a payment of 40/- via my debit card and tried downloading the songs – no success – I am just getting a blank page all the time.
    now u cannt put the blame on browser as I tried this with all of them (ya, I have the keeda u can say)
    I tried individual songs as well as all at once, tried it with wav, 390kbps etc, have tried all permutations, combinations but it simple doesnt works.

    What a shoddy job these guys have done – why to do it if the are doing it half heartedly!
    At the end it proved to be a FALTU attempt for me, wasting almost half an hour!! (and 40/- )
    The movie was faltu but atleast they c’ld have done something right with their website!
    Sad, angry, frustrated!

    1. Satyam Gambhir says

      I tried again and it is working for me. Though you are right, it has changed a lot many steps from the time I first downloaded the music.

      Though, the experience of downloading and UX can be improved but thats not the point of discussion here. Its unexpectedly bed here; but as A Singh mentioned above, there are other sites which can try like

      I am more concerned about providing such a platform at first and UX comes at a later stage. :)

  7. Altaf Rahman says

    Some times we hear that due to piracy, the film industry is losing ‘x’ thousand crore rupees. Actually we have to rephrase the sentense. The film industry is getting ‘x’ thousand crore rupees less than what they anticipated.
    Piracy is nothing but a way of supplying data at a cheaper cost.
    I would infact compare it to ‘hacking’ of internet. If you look at hacking with a stiff upper lip, it is a bad thing. But you will find that hacking is a respectable profession and there are many organizations of hackers and even mainstream internet businesses utilize the services of hackers in strewngthening their systems.
    Similarly piracy should be given respect it deserves. In fact producers should take the services of pirates in spreading their movies / songs to far reaches.

    I have similar views on internet telephony also. What they are doing is service to people. Telephone companies are unabel to utilize present technologies to offer low cost services to people. Where as internet telephony companies with small infrastructure offer great service to users. Why dont telephone companies take lead from them and offer low cost services?

    May be I am termed very dangerous but you see the similarity.

    Hacking, piracy, internet telephony are viewed as bad, unethical (some times illegal). What all of them are doing is providing same or slightly lesser quality service at a greatly reduced prices.

    The opponents of these services want these services to simply vanish so that they can loot people by monopoly.

    As an end user people should have right of choice ‘high quality, reliablity, high price’ or ‘high quality, unreliability, low cost’.

    Another two paisa :)

    1. Satyam Gambhir says

      I agree with you Altaf. In fact, what provides best of value has been termed as unethical and unfair! Sounds strange; and all this is just to warm some packets which are already filled.

      Since the issue is now extended to diverse topics, I would also like to connect it to yet another aspect. Amazingly, we are all taught to become good businessmen and employees all our lives, however, its very rare that some one shares with you the ways to become a good consumer.

      People buy whatever is the best value among competition. And piracy / internet calling / internet hacking; all are very much a part of competition with best value to offer which constitutes a free market.

      Ironically, no govt. will ever support piracy at the same time. Its an interesting debatable topic to be discussed over. :)

  8. A Singh says

    The way forward is the beat pirates at their own game – meaning allow users to get access to their favorite music from a legitimate service instantly, free, and with a great user experience. The best example of this is, which is the best legal service for Indian music on the web (and now with Android and iPhone apps as well).

  9. Altaf Rahman says

    Suppose you are waiting for a bus at a bus stop. You follow queue system and wait. As soon as the bus arrives, people who until then acting as if they are civilized people just break out of queue and run for the door and push and squeeze in. What would you do?
    a) If you refuse to behave like those bunch, you will be left behind as soon the bus is full.
    b) If you join the crowd, you loose charector and in future can not lecture otehrs about being disciplined.

    Unless some mechanism is in place which forces the people to follow queue even though they hate it at heart, you go with the crowd.

    Similarly, the cini people (music people or prducers) asking you to buy original CDs at higher prices and you sincerely following their request is like standing in queue at a bus stop. What you get at higher price is same as the pirated CDs at lower cost. If they are so keen to sell at higher prie, let them spend money and have some mechanism to control piracy.

    In fact piracy is nothing but offering same thing at a lower price. Why should we pay higher cost? Just to make the cini people billionaires? Universally there is every sort of data available on net at zeor cost. Why should we pay more? Let the producer pay SRK in thousands instead of crores. Let singers get hundreds instead of lakhs. Then the financial model will work out for the producers.

    Do they hve guts for that? If they dont have guts to ask SRK to work for dal roti, its their problem. Why should I pay more to producer for something which is available for free just becasue SRK wants crores?

    Either let them come with a fool proof way to control distribution of music/movies and then demand more money or allow free flow of data at zero cost.

    Just my two paisa :)

    1. Sriram Vadlamani says

      Completely different way of looking at things. I can do nothing but wonder. Great thought process Altaf. If someone is reading this then they would know that this isn’t just two paisa.

      The cost to control piracy is huge and there is no method in sight to do it. That’s the reason for all the hungama (not the music company). Instead of controlling costs or change the distribution model, they choose to pressurize the ISP’s and run sleazy ads about piracy.

      Piracy isn’t anything new. It just got easier and all pervasive with the Internet.

      1. Satyam Gambhir says

        True Sriram

        Altafs contribution has always been more than a couple of paisa’s. :)

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