The changing shape of the Indian recorded music industry in the age of platformisation

Aditya Lal, David Hesmondhalgh and Charles Umney (2023), Contemporary South Asia

Scholars have explored the impact of technological developments on the livelihoods of musicians before digitalisation and in the contemporary age of music streaming platforms. However, a striking gap exists with respect to the Indian music industries which have been conspicuously ignored by scholarship on cultural work. This article contributes towards addressing this gap. First, we show how platformisation is challenging the longstanding domination of Indian music by film soundtracks which relegated non-film musicians to precarious careers with unsustainable work. We show that platformisation has ushered in a new wave of non-film music that is posing unprecedented challenges to the cultural hegemony of film music. Second, we show how platformisation has also accelerated demands for copyright reform, which may benefit some musicians. However, third, we show that platformisation may well reinforce the domination of powerful local record companies, with potentially negative impacts on musicians. Fourthly, we suggest that platformisation may be disadvantaging musicians who work in languages besides the dominant ones of Hindi and English. Our concluding section suggests that platformisation brings both challenges and potential benefits for some musicians and draws out the implications for future research on the platformisation of cultural work.

Share this: