Stars, listeners bridge gap as music booms in India

New Delhi: The booming music industry is bridging the gap between Indian fans and international stars as the business of music moves to the interactive digital space and more stars perform live in the country.

The cornerstone of the new big-ticket Indian music is its global face.

This month drew two of the biggest names of international music - Lady Gaga and Metallica - to India while Oct 31-Nov 15 is crowded with several international names who will perform at the Delhi International Arts Festival.

The festival is hosting nearly 2,000 performers. The Jazz ensemble Paul Beaudry and Pathways will perform in Delhi Nov 1.

"India is a big English speaking market. If a recording label has to push the envelope in this market, it has to bring more artists (musicians) to perform in India," Sony Music India marketing director Sanujeet Bhujabal told IANS.

He said "several global venues and property with performance space have come up for the Formula One races".

"India also has the IPL (Indian Premier League) which is also likely to draw a lot of international stars to India in the future," the official said.

He said "English music contributes to nearly seven percent of the music business globally".

Universal Music India, Lady Gaga`s recording label, said the "exploding entertainment economy of India is drawing top billboard musicians to India - and selling out concerts".

"I think India is kind of a strong country globally. It cannot be ignored any more. It has a huge economy and the consumption of music has increased," Universal Music-India vice president Sunil D`sa said.

It has created more awareness about India and its culture abroad and opened up two-way exchanges, he said.

The government in the last few years has become more proactive in using culture as a people-to-people contact between nations for better bilateral ties. There has also been an increase in government-sponsored international music festivals in India.

A public-private partnership policy to promote culture in the country has seen the government lend its name to several institutions to present international stars in India, a source in the culture ministry said.

The internationalisation of music has also been prompted by a change in the format of consumption pattern.

Sunil D`sa said: "Music has moved to digital platforms. It is on mobile phone caller tunes, ring tones, iPhones and iPads.

"Universal Music has set up a separate cell for digital music to cash in on the space," he added.

Universal Music has also made inroads into the regional market in Maharashtra, Punjab and Bengal to promote local talent, he said.

Young fans in India now keep in touch with their favourite musicians on Facebook, Twitter and a number of other social networking websites - some promoted by the recording labels and musicians themselves.

"The size of the youth population is spurring the growth of music industry and related entertainment," D`Sa said.

On Friday, a foyer at Hotel Taj Mansingh in the capital bustled with fans and media, who were waiting for a brush with pop icon Lady Gaga, in India to perform at a Formula 1 (F-1) after-party.

The musician met some fans, the winners of a Meet Lady Gaga contest sponsored by a leading media house - and was "amazed by India and its people". The tickets for Lady Gaga`s debut concert Sunday priced Rs.40,000 have been sold out.

Her new album, "Born This Way", has connected to India with two Bollywood remixes of her tracks.

Sony Music this month launched famous jazz ensemble Spyro Gyra`s new fusion album featuring a Hindi track.

The band said the album was its gateway to Indian and Hindi music - and new segments of audience.

Bhujabal said: "Indian listeners will also look for richer music on digital platforms when Sony Music and Universal Music Worldwide launch Vevo, a premium online music video platform, a year later."

According to industry insiders the three-day F-1 race which began Friday had pulled several invisible walls down in the entertainment scene because of its youth appeal.

"The race is known for their after-parties where music is central to entertainment. An after-party for the F-1 is hosting Lady Gaga and several international DJs," a Delhi-based event manager said.

Liquor companies have added glamour to live music-related entertainment in the last decade by sponsoring several annual rock concerts and international performers in India.


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