Electronic Music in India

Insight - 002

India has always had a strong connection with music, from the flamboyance of Bollywood and its incredible musical set pieces to the familiar beauty of the sitar.

Over the years, electronic music has crept into the nation's consciousness and permeated into everyday culture, bringing about a slow but steady evolution in the output of their musicians.


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Key Gatekeepers provide insight on India - Dev Bhatia

INDIA'S MUSIC SCENE PRESENTS A HUGE OPPORTUNITY

We identified India as one of the top 10 regions out of 129 to watch, with the nation having the second largest digitally engaged audience and the fastest growing major economy in the world.
As a result of the thriving economy, India has built a huge market of young people looking for new experiences, making it one of the most exciting and fertile regions for the electronic music scene.


7 OF INDIA'S 10 BIGGEST CONCERTS ARE "EDM"

Electronic music has managed to do what other music genres could not: Tap into the potential of the Indian market and make money. Some 18,000 tickets were sold for the Swedish House Mafia concert in Mumbai in January at an average of Rs 4,000.

Compare that to rapper Snoop Dogg’s concerts in Delhi and Pune where about 1,000 tickets sold, at an average of Rs 2,500.

Sunburn, the three-day year-end music festival organised by Percept in Goa, is Asia’s largest. Sunburn Arena events with DJ Tiesto, Armin van Buuren and Swedish House Mafia sell 2,000 VIP tickets (at upwards of Rs 5,000 each); in contrast, when Guns N’ Roses came to India recently, 2,500 people showed up.

Indeed, seven of India’s 10 biggest music concerts are electronic music gigs. 

Tiesto pulled in more people than Carlos Santana. 


MAGNETIC FIELDS FESTIVAL: THE PALACE

RA's head of films, Patrick Nation, travelled to Magnetic Fields in Rajasthan, India, where he spoke to some of the attendees about their experience.

The Magnetic Fields festival has been around for four years and has carved a niche for itself in the Indian electronic music calendar. With an idyllic setting in the Middle of the Thar Desert in the winter, an assortment of underground electronic acts and an audience which is receptive to the music, it has quickly become one of the most sought after music festivals not only in India but also has gained recognition across the globe. Imagine, how many music festivals happen in the middle of nowhere, inside and around a palace?

Where Magnetic Fields seems to be separate from other festivals in India, is in putting up-and-coming young Indian artists on the same bill as boundary-pushing (but not necessarily well known) international musicians. 

A key factor behind the growth of festivals in India is how well developed India’s tourism sector is, ranking a respectable seventh in terms of tourism revenue in Asia. The emphasis on the travel industry in India can easily be seen in the vast international attendance at prospective dance music festivals held in the country. Thanks to the formidable reputation that Sunburn festival has established for itself over the past decade, for example, it’s easy to spot ravers from countries like America and Russia in the event’s massive crowds; for a frame of reference, the Goa-based festival drew over 350,000 fans to its 2015 edition.

Key Festivals

  1. Sunburn, Goa
  2. Vh1 Supersonic Festival
  3. Ziro Festival
  4. Magnetic Fields
  5. Go:Madras
  6. Electric Daisy Carnival
  7. Budweiser Bass Camp
  8. Road to Ultra

5 EXCITING artists

  1. Arjun Vagale
  2. Sandunes
  3. Big City Harmonics
  4. FILM
  5. Oceantied
Arjun Vagale & Leading Manager Dev Bhatia (Owner of Unmute Agency)

Arjun Vagale & Leading Manager Dev Bhatia (Owner of Unmute Agency)


Mainstream vs Underground

Generally speaking, the majority of new acts and popular electronic music in India is following the mainstream trend with artists like David Guetta & Skrillex defining the taste. This is common in emerging regions where electronic music is gaining popularity however we are also seeing a notable rise in darker sounds with artists like Arjun Vagale leading the pack.

India’s party scene is experiencing a paradigm shift. The nation with the world’s largest youth population is itching to lose its marbles on a dance floor and the balance between commercial and underground is slowly tilting.

“Did you see Eric Prydz play last night? If you did, you witnessed the demise of commercial electronic music as we know it,” veteran Indian DJ Tuhin Mehta declared, just before his set on the day two at VH1 Supersonic in Pune. He believes we are at the right moment where the balance between the underground and commercial sounds has peaked, and thinks it’s time to head back to the underground now. The Swedish techno-progressive behemoth Eric Prydz played to a sold-out crowd in what was his debut gig in India.

The herculean task of educating the masses isn’t restricted to seasoned DJs. Nikhil Chinapa, the organiser of VH1 Supersonic feels that up-and-coming local DJs such as Lost Stories, Zaden and Kerano, are the names to watch out for in 2017. While most mainstream DJs are slowly making the shift from in-your-face EDM to radio-friendly indie pop, Karanvir Singh aka Kerano hopes to move away from the noise. 


The 24-year-old—who’s working on a finalising a tour of Australia—is responsible for multiple chart-topping singles including Breathing. When asked why new-generation DJs prefer to play in smaller cities, Karanvir explains, “In the major cities, the scene is getting a bit stale. Neither the promoters nor the crowds challenge the artists. They just want to hear the same tunes they hear on the radio and TV. 

Another pivotal factor behind this growth is how well developed India’s tourism sector is, ranking a respectable seventh in terms of tourism revenue in Asia. The emphasis on the travel industry in India can easily be seen in the vast international attendance at prospective dance music festivals held in the country. Thanks to the formidable reputation that Sunburn festival has established for itself over the past decade, for example, it’s easy to spot ravers from countries like America and Russia in the event’s massive crowds; for a frame of reference, the Goa-based festival drew over 350,000 fans to its 2015 edition.


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