How K-Pop & Punjabi Pop Are Displacing Bollywood on Indian Streaming Services

Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment
BTS

Spotify's list of most-streamed acts reflects a trend on other streaming services in India, where regional language music is surging.

MUMBAI — When Spotify published the list of its most streamed acts in India last week, the biggest reveal was the appearance of K-pop boy band BTS in fifth place. 

The ranking is an indicator of the growing and fiercely loyal audience that K-pop enjoys in the country. That Spotify, which released its India list to mark its six-month anniversary in the territory, flashed yet another country where BTS was making a big dent should not come as a complete surprise. 

Among all the audio-streaming services in India -- there are no less than nine -- Spotify and Apple Music offer the most comprehensive catalogues of K-pop. BTS' top five status on Spotify was aided by a video in which the group's leader, rapper RM, asked the BTS ARMY to follow them on the platform at the time of its launch in February. 

But it also reflects a trend playing out on other Indian audio-streaming services such as Gaana and JioSaavn: The share of Bollywood music, India's dominant musical genre, as a percentage of overall streams, is getting smaller. According to KPMG India's newest Media and Entertainment report, Bollywood music's portion of the pie slipped from as much as 70% in mid-2016 to a little over 50% in early 2019, while international music fell to 18%.

KPMG said the declines can be attributed to the growth in popularity of regional language music, which now accounts for 32% of all of consumption on streaming services. The consultancy noted that Punjabi tracks contribute 12% of all regional music streams, the same proportion as Tamil and Telugu tunes put together. A key difference between the music in these languages: The majority of Punjabi plays are of non-film pop and hip-hop, while most Tamil and Telugu songs are from movie soundtracks. 

On Gaana, the consumption of regional music is currently six times what it was two years ago, and it contributes close to a third of all the streams on the platform. And on JioSaavn, a surge in demand for regional music has led to a fall in international music's share from 25% in 2018 to only half that in 2019. Acts like Badshah and Guru Randhawa helped Punjabi recently overtake English as the second most-played language on the platform. (Hindi, Telugu and Tamil occupy first, fourth and fifth place respectively.) 

The growth in the listenership of regional music is expected to only rise as more people in smaller cities and towns get online and form the next wave of the services' customers. In absolute terms, however, the streams of both Bollywood and international music are increasing. For instance, on JioSaavn the total number of plays of international music have shot up 35% over the last year. 

But as Spotify's and others' lists show, there's a marked difference between what's being heard on each of the Indian services. Gaana and JioSaavn, both of which claim over 100 MAUs, have been around for much longer than Spotify and have a much larger and wider consumer base than Apple Music. (In India, over 90% of smartphones run on Android.) As a result, Gaana and JioSaavn's users include a great number of non-English music listeners who stream a lot more domestic music than those signed up to Spotify or Apple Music. 

While Apple Music did not provide information on language-wise listenership, it's evident that the bulk of its users are international music fans. In contrast, on Spotify the split between domestic and international repertoire is more or less even. International music makes up 80% of Spotify's most-heard tracks, but only 20% of its top playlists. 

Notably, only two hits are common to all four services' charts of the most streamed tunes between March and August: the Bollywood ballad "Duniyaa" from the movie Luka Chuppi, and Dhvani Bhanushali and Nikhil D'Souza's Hindi pop duet "Vaaste." Only one artist or composer -- Arijit Singh -- is on all four platforms' lists of the most-played acts and, remarkably, he tops three of them. Singh is widely regarded as India's leading playback singer and he's among the rare vocalists whose songs become hits irrespective of the fate of their parent films. 

How these artists and genres stack up against each other when the streams are consolidated should be clear when trade organization the Indian Music Industry launches its official chart by the end of the year. 

Spotify India's top playlists (March to August 2019)
1. Today's Top Hits (international)
2. Top Hits Hindi
3. New Music Hindi
4. Punjabi 101
5. New Music Punjabi
6. Bollywood Romance
7. Bollywood Mush
8. Bollywood Butter
9. All Out 10s (international)
10. Top Hits Punjabi
 
Most streamed acts in India (March to August 2019)

Spotify
1. Arijit Singh (Bollywood, Bengali film music, Hindi pop)
2. Tanishk Bagchi (Bollywood, Hindi pop)
3. Neha Kakkar (Bollywood, Hindi and Punjabi pop)
4. Badshah (Bollywood, Hindi and Punjabi hip-hop)
5. BTS (K-pop)
6. Sherya Ghoshal (Bollywood)
7. Dhvani Bhanushali (Bollywood, Hindi pop)
8. A. R. Rahman (Bollywood, Tamil and Telugu film music)
9. Shawn Mendes (international)
10. Post Malone (international)
 
Apple Music
1. Arijit Singh (Bollywood, Bengali film music, Hindi pop)
2. Ed Sheeran (international)
3. Post Malone (international)
4. Drake (international)
5. Taylor Swift (international)
6. Billie Eilish (international)
7. Imagine Dragons (international)
8. The Chainsmokers (international)
9. Ariana Grande (international)
10. Maroon 5 (international)
 
JioSaavn
1. Arijit Singh (Bollywood, Bengali film music, Hindi pop)
2. Tulsi Kumar (Bollywood)
3. Neha Kakkar (Bollywood, Hindi and Punjabi pop)
4. Sherya Ghoshal (Bollywood) 
5. Alka Yagnik (Bollywood)
6. Dhvani Bhanushali (Bollywood, Hindi pop)
7. Tanishk Bagchi (Bollywood, Hindi pop)
8. Badshah (Bollywood, Hindi and Punjabi hip-hop)
9. Udit Narayan (Bollywood)
10. Kumar Sanu (Bollywood)
 
Gaana
1. Tanishk Bagchi (Bollywood, Hindi pop)
2. Devi Sri Prasad (Telugu and Tamil film music)
3. A. R. Rahman (Bollywood, Tamil and Telugu film music)
4. Guru Randhawa (Punjabi pop, Bollywood)
5. Arijit Singh (Bollywood, Bengali film music, Hindi pop)
 
Most streamed songs (March to August 2019)
Spotify
1. Sunflower (from "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse") - Post Malone and Swae Lee
2. Sucker - Jonas Brothers
3. Duniyaa (from "Luka Chuppi") - Akhil and Dhvani Bhanushali
4. On My Way - Alan Walker, Sabrina Carpenter and Farruko
5. Without Me - Halsey
6. 7 Rings - Ariana Grande
7. Senorita - Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello
8. Old Town Road (Remix) - Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
9. Vaaste - Dhvani Bhanushali and Nikhil D'Souza
10. Wow. - Post Malone
 
Apple Music
1. Senorita - Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello
2. Duniyaa (from "Luka Chuppi") - Akhil and Dhvani Bhanushali
3. Lamberghini - The Doorbeen featuring Ragini
4. Bekhayali (from "Kabir Singh") - Sachet Tandon
5. Apna Time Aayega (from "Gully Boy") - Ranveer Singh 
6. Sunflower (from "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse") - Post Malone and Swae Lee
7. Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage (from "Kabir Singh") - Arijit Singh
8. Old Town Road (Remix) - Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
9. Tera Ban Jaunga (from "Kabir Singh") - Akhil Sachdeva and Tulsi Kumar
10. Vaaste - Dhvani Bhanushali and Nikhil D'Souza
 
Gaana
1. Duniyaa (from "Luka Chuppi") - Akhil and Dhvani Bhanushali
2. Vaaste - Dhvani Bhanushali and Nikhil D'Souza
3. Coca Cola (from "Luka Chuppi") - Neha Kakkar, Tony Kakkar and Young Desi
4. Photo (from "Luka Chuppi") - Karan Sehmbi
5. Ve Maahi (from "Kesari") - Arijit Singh and Asees Kaur

JioSaavn
1. Ve Maahi (from "Kesari") - Arijit Singh and Asees Kaur
2. Tera Ban Jaunga (from "Kabir Singh") - Akhil Sachdeva and Tulsi Kumar
3. Duniyaa (from "Luka Chuppi") - Akhil and Dhvani Bhanushali
4. Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage (from "Kabir Singh") - Arijit Singh
5. Bekhayali (from "Kabir Singh") - Sachet Tandon
6. O Saki Saki (from "Batla House") - Neha Kakkar, Tulsi Kumar and B. Praak
7. Photo (from "Luka Chuppi") – Karan Sehmbi 
8. Vaaste - Dhvani Bhanushali and Nikhil D'Souza
9. First Class (from "Kalank") - Arijit Singh and Neeti Mohan
10. Teri Mitti (from "Kesari") - B. Praak


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