Two bits of news this month signify a new wave in the evolution of digital music in India.
First Dhingana.com shut down as a music streaming service. Industry talk goes that two leading sites, Hungama and Saavn, are increasingly cornering digital music rights, and this is leading to consolidation.
Things have come a long way since the start of iTunes which made us rip CDs into personal collections of MP3 files. The next wave saw us buying MP3 songs through downloads — or, in India, a simple case of swiping collections or building them through emails in a game of piracy.
But the game is no longer about MP3 downloads or CD ripping. Hungama and Saavn are now iPhone and Android phone friendly, and increasingly are apps that people download on to smartphones.
Like Pandora and Spotify in the US (both of which are not available in India), these sites are also creating inspired applications (apps) and playlists to suit your moods and situations. They consolidate digital rights at the backend and make money at the front-end by ads linked to the apps or through premium purchases you can make. Gaana.com is a third player in the game and offers karoke choices of songs or celebrity-curated lists as separate apps.
Also this month, Pepsi and MTV announced the launch of a new channel. This channel will focus on local indie (independent) and alternative culture, with a focus on music, film, art, comedy and other content.
This means that random bursts of individual creativity we see on sites such as Soundcloud.com and YouTube.com are being recognised and hopefully rewarded by a mainstream music channel.
Curated playlists, inspired apps , buying up of digital rights and harnessing of indie music are ushering in a new music regime in India.