‘India’s music landscape has seen meteoric growth’
India is fast becoming a global entertainment hub, according to some of the world’s leading executives.
Just as the pandemic hit, the country was on a promising upswing in its patchy live music history, having welcomed U2 to Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium in January 2020. The show was the latest in an intermittent stream of superstar visits to Indian soil – The Stones, Sheeran, and Beyoncé have all been down, though Bieber cancelled in October – and was a collaboration between Live Nation and local ticketing giant BookMyShow, which is increasingly positioning itself as India’s foremost international promoter.
In January, the two promoters teamed up on the first Indian Lollapalooza at Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi Racecourse, featuring Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, and Diplo alongside Indian-born rapper AP Dhillon, Delhi-based singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad and others. The event drew 60,000 fans over two days, with 40 artists performing across four stages on a 50-acre site.
James Craven, Live Nation president, Middle East, says Lollapalooza coming to Mumbai is a great example of the market’s growing importance.
“It’s really exciting to see global markets open up to music and artists from the Indian sub-continent, as well as seeing how the Indian market continues to open up for international acts,” says Craven in the IQ’s Global Promoters Report. “Expanding global touring routes for artists is key to their growth and that of the industry, and India will play a key role in that going forwards.”
“Expanding global touring routes for artists is key to their growth and that of the industry, and India will play a key role in that”
Kunal Khambhati, head of live events & IP at BookMyShow, says the entertainment and ticketing platform has worked hard to break down barriers to live shows, which included a 28% goods and services tax that now stands at 18%.
“India’s music landscape has witnessed meteoric growth in the past few years,” says Khambhati. “Slowly but steadily, the country has set the stage to become a keystone for some of the biggest music performances and markets in the world – from hosting acclaimed international and Indian independent artists at large concerts to smaller formats that are gradually shaping the music landscape in the country.
“BookMyShow’s work in this space has focused on creating exposure for both global talent to the Indian audience and Indian artists on the global stage,” he adds. “Lollapalooza is a global music phenomenon, an incomparable international experience, that will not only amplify this exposure in India but in all of Asia and put the spotlight on the country as a global entertainment hub.”
Elsewhere in the festival market, India’s biggest metal festival Bangalore Open Air sold out for the first time in its 10-year history.
“This will go down in the history books,” said Bangalore Open Air founder, Salman U Syed. “A heavy metal festival in Bangalore, India, is sold out. Thank you for your support. Ten years of hard work determination and patience.”
“The country has set the stage to become a keystone for some of the biggest music performances and markets in the world”
The 3,000-capacity event, which is produced in partnership with Germany’s marquee metal festival Wacken Open Air, will this year celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Mayhem, Pestilence, Kryptos, Godless, Born of Osiris, Dying Embrace and Amorphia will lead the celebrations at the 1 April event at Royal Orchid Resorts at Yelahanka.
It’s not just domestic executives that are touting India’s rapid growth. The likes of Wasserman Music’s Alex Hardee and ATC Live’s Alex Bruford testified to the market’s upward trajectory at the most recent International Live Music Conference (ILMC).
“I was just in India, where Lumineers headlined the NH7 Weekender and it was incredible,” said Bruford. “More than 20,000 people drove for about eight hours to get to the show – all completely local fans – and it was one of the band’s favourite gigs they’ve ever played.”
Hardee told ILMC delegates how Alan Walker (represented by Lee Anderson and Tom Schroeder at Wasserman) recently broke new ground in India: “He did ten shows in ten cities…I don’t think an international act has ever done that.”
“More than 20,000 people drove for about eight hours to get to the show”
While streaming rates point to a large pop market, challenging routing and a lack of infrastructure have hampered the development of an Indian circuit for rock and pop shows. Venues for shows typically have to be built from scratch on outdoor sites, and purpose-built venues are only a long-term prospect.
The EDM market is already creating circuits of its own. Percept Live’s three-day, 30,000-per-day Sunburn Festival in Goa returned in December, having brought many of the world’s top DJs down since 2007, and Percept has expanded into increasingly ambitious tours – including a six-city trek for DJ Snake in November, visiting Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore but also less-travelled spots such as Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.
“This is the first time we have done a six-city tour over two weekends with such a big artist,” says Percept Live COO Karan Singh, noting that DJ Snake drew anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 per city. “If you have eight or ten markets where the top international acts can play, that’s good for the industry overall.”
Other experienced electronic promoters include Mixtape Live, Submerge, and Mumbai’s Krunk Live, whose travelling Bass Camp Festival celebrated its tenth year in November. Another major player in the Indian business is payments provider Paytm, which bought OML’s ticketing arm Insider in 2017.
As well as presenting tours by artists such as Singh and Dosanjh, Paytm Insider is behind the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, which has featured Basement Jaxx, A.R. Rahman, and Megadeth and brought The Lumineers, Dirty Loops and J.I.D. back to its home city of Pune for its 11th edition in November.
This article contains excerpts from the Global Promoters Report, a first-of-its-kind resource that highlights the world’s leading promoters and the 40 top markets they operate in. The report is now available to subscribers of IQ.