Business of Music in India

…exploring the future…

“Diljale” – a solid example of online music releases from INDIA

“Original, earthy appeal & born to be on stage….”, says her profile on

Who is this singer making waves in the world of music? Well, meet Sona Mohapatra. A trained classical singer who has made a career in fusing pop, folk, bollywood, rock styles and more into her music. She fronts her band consisting of 5 consisting ethnic strings, electrice guitar, bass, drums/percussion and keyboards.

sona mohapatra

After her smashing hits like Bolo Na, Aaja Ve among others, Sona chose to release her latest album “Raat/Din” in an INNOVATIVE manner! The first video single of this album “Diljale” has been shot in the streets of New York, and the music is available on digital stores across the world.

We asked Sona a few questions, for which you find her brief and to-the-point responsed in the interview below. Do post your comments and feedback on the music and this form of releasing your own music, your own way… The future is here. Thanks to musicians like Sona and Ram Sampath (coming up in the next interview).

**** {SA}: What prompted you to release a single on the Net, mobile networks?
Sona Mohapatra [SM]: We decided to go with digital distribution because it’s the reality of our lives. We’ve seen the disappearance of the music stores & the emergence of cell phones & mp3 players happen right before our eyes, so why are we reluctant to embrace it?!

{SA} How did you plan the promotions before the release?
[SM] That’s the hard part. It takes persistence & patience to find the right collaborators & partners. The most important aspect is a common love for music.

one of the first online music singles released globally...

one of the first online music singles released globally...

{SA} Do you have any exclusive tie-ups for the promotions?
[SM] Yes. I’ve tied up with The Nokia Music Store (Worldwide) & their ‘Comes With Music’ program. I’ve also tied up with Gibson Guitars & MTV as promotion partners.

{SA} In which stores is your song available for sale?
[SM] As of now, at the Nokia Music Store, my own website – & very soon across all other digital stores including iTunes, amazon, spotify, and many more stores across the globe, thanks to Rebeat (

{SA} With tools like Rebeat Digital software that distributes an album to over 350 stores worldwide, its become easy to make sure your song/s is on these online stores.
[SM] Absolutely. What Rebeat is trying to do, is nothing short of a paradigm shift, like Apple’s iTunes store. It could change music distribution forever!

{SA} But for an artiste, is it possible to promote it to the audience / fans on his or her own?
[SM] Of course. Right from Radiohead & Nine Inch Nails to Bob Dylan, every artist worth their name is using the internet to reach out to their core audience. People who follow the artist regardless of the latest fashion. That’s the whole point of it.

{SA} What skills (besides musicality) do you think an artiste / composer must have in today’s digital era?
[SM] As an artist, I think this is the age of DIY (Do it Yourself). You need to have a vision for yourself & your music & you need to have the networking skills to reach out to the biggest audience possible without compromising your integrity.

{SA} There is a definite trend of online music purchasing in USA, Europe. Do you think India will follow suit?
[SM] Yes. It’s a logical progression. I only wish it would happen sooner.

{SA} Any other marketing plans / events in the pipeline for your digital album?
[SM] Yes. Quite a few. You will see them unfold in the coming months!

{SA} Any message to other singers in our country?
[SM] Express yourself. Be heard. One way or another.

{SA} Thank you, Sona. And congratulations on being one of the front-runners from India, in using the latest technology to reach out to millions of music lovers across the world. We do hope others will follow suit.

Are you losing out on your fan-base?

By not bothering about online music sales, are you losing out….?

As you will read in the previous discussions on this blog, there have been quite a lot of ideas, points and views exchanged on musicians using pirated softwares; and music lovers downloading mp3 songs from pirate sites.

Just see how the global markets are warming up to online music sales:

But has it occurred to anyone than an artiste / band is also responsible if his / their song is being pirated??!

How, you may ask?

I was speaking to a USA-based fan of a well-known Indian composer/singer. He said that he has been looking online for a bhajan (song) of this person for a while now. The album in question is still not available on any popular online store. Being habituated with buying from online music shops, he ended up getting the song from a pirate site.

And this fan blames (partly) the artiste for it!!!

His rationale…:

1. a music label should make all their albums available on stores on the Net for sale. So what if results don’t show up instantly, we fans are likely to purchase.

2. every artist/band should cater to fans all over the world. So they must ensure that their songs are put up on stores for sale. they should even release singles exclusively for his fans!

3. most international musicians ensure that their website remains updated; and we fans are glued to their sites / RSS feeds. Unfortunately, many musicians from India have not understood the real potential of the net yet. And many of them don’t have websites either!

So here was a brief encounter of a die-hard fan who was in a way ‘forced’ to download a song illegally, when he intended to buy it…

Now let’s talk numbers:

Online music sales account for 15 percent of the global market. Compared to other industries, music is second only to games in its transition to digital revenues. For newspapers, it is 7 percent, for films it is 3 percent, and for books only 2 percent. (All of these are global figures).
Governments are starting to accept that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should take a far bigger role in protecting music on the internet, but urgent action is needed to translate this into reality, a new report from the international music industry says today.

Some more facts on digital music sales:

  • The first-ever global music download sales chart is topped by Avril Lavigne, who sold 7.3 million track downloads of her song Girlfriend across the world in 2007
  • Single track downloads, the most popular digital music format, grew by 53% to 1.7 billion (including those on digital albums)
  • The music industry is more advanced in terms of digital revenues than any other creative or entertainment industry except games. Its digital share is more than twice that of newspapers (7%), films (3%) and books (2%)
  • There are more than 500 legitimate digital music services worldwide, offering over 6 million tracks – over four times the stock of a music megastore
  • Progress in the digital music market is being hampered by lack of interoperability between services and devices, and lack of investment in marketing of new services
  • Research by IFPI debunks a myth about illegal P2P services: in fact, fans get better choice on legal sites. IFPI conducted research with a sample of 70 acts on the legal site iTunes and on the copyright infringing service Limewire. In 95 per cent of searches the artists requested had more songs available on iTunes than on the leading P2P service.

Are musicians in India taking notes?

 * IFPI Digital Music Report 2008