HIVEWIRE #07: Winning in emerging markets - A shift from surface-level to 'meaningful localisation'

HIVEWIRE #07: Winning in emerging markets - A shift from surface-level to 'meaningful localisation'

The “One size fits all” approach for emerging music markets might not fit the bill much longer.

By Akhila Shankar

Contributor: Srishti Das; Editor: Mayuyuka Kaunda

Picture this - You manage a Hip-hop artist. Your artist is based in Europe or North America, and the music is in English, but you want your artist to find new fans outside their native country. The reason is either that they have hit their growth potential in their home market or the competition is stiff, and you need to find a relatively less crowded market for the particular brand of music your artist makes. India comes to mind because of its vastness and large population of approximately 200 million English speakers. Capturing even 1% of this audience can create a career focused on longevity.

Wrong! If only it were that simple. We dive into why and discuss the best way to make Indian audiences your friends.

India has been strategically important for trade and business for centuries. It was a couple of centuries ago because of its geographic location, making it a strategic entry point to the rest of the East. Now, as the most populous country in the world, India presents some opportunities to every business. The culture industries are no different. India has the second largest English-speaking population in the world, so it is no surprise that it is the biggest export market for International English music. The growth of streaming services and low-cost data has also enabled inter-India crossovers, which has birthed a ‘language no bar’ era (at the time of this article, the #1 track on Spotify India was a Tamil track, a language-only spoken by 6% of the country’s population). This emerging trend of mood/energy level-based listening also makes it an important market for non-English International music like K-pop and Latin music. With labels, artists and their management increasingly looking to break into India, there is a need for exporters of music to reexamine how they approach the market.

The biggest mistake the traditional music industry continues to make when exporting music to India is not deep-diving into the true audience potential for its respective artists and repertoire.

Let me explain.