Admitting that Zee Music is still heavily dependent on Hindi films for content, Bedi said, "We intend to remain a strong Number 2, despite the massive disruptions to the film shooting following the coronavirus pandemic-driven nationwide lockdown.
Zee Music Company, an arm of financially stretched Zee Entertainment, which has become Number 2 player within six years of entry into the otherwise monopolistic music industry, plans to add at least 1,000 songs this year despite the film industry remaining crippled by the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
The domestic music industry has for long been unorganised, controlled by a few legacy labels like T-Series, and is largely film-dependent except perhaps the Punjabi music industry that has plenty of independent music labels.
But, monopoly gave way to healthy completion in 2014 when the Subhash Chandra-led Zee Group entered the cluttered market. Today, Zee Music claims to be the second-largest music label in the country with over 60 million YouTube viewers or streaming and the company plans to release 1,000 songs this year, having started with just two Bollywood studios. Last year, it released around 900 songs.
“From starting off with just two film production houses, we have now become the second-most subscribed Indian music channel on YouTube, acquiring 55-60 per cent of Bollywood music annually,” the music label’s business head Anurag Bedi told PTI.
Admitting that Zee Music is still heavily dependent on Hindi films for content, Bedi said, “We intend to remain a strong Number 2, despite the massive disruptions to the film shooting following the coronavirus pandemic-driven nationwide lockdown. In fact, even during the lockdown, we have been dubbing and recording with artists from their homes to ensure timely and consistent releases.”
But, Bedi is quick to add that even in other languages they are No. 2 thanks to their presence in all languages. “In fact, Bhojpuri is the second-largest source-market for us,” he said adding that all their songs are produced in-house from scratch and they do not outsource any part of the business to any third-party.
Attributing their faster growth to diverse content and also to the faster adoption of the internet and the resultant rise in digital consumption, he is confident of a brighter future for music labels. “Digital platforms have played a key role in the way music is marketed and consumed, and in reaching out to larger audiences. Revenue coming in from digital platforms is the bread and butter which accounts for almost 70 per cent of revenue,” said Bedi.
Whether they will look at releasing fresh originals with artists in the non-Bollywood music space, Bedi said, “We pioneered this in the Hindi music space. As of last year, we have released 600 songs under our non-film music label Zee Music Originals.”
“We are the largest producers of non-film Hindi songs and are very aggressive in that space. We play the volume game and attempt to have close to 40 songs released every two months. Since we aren’t a legacy player, we aim to be more aggressive and agile,” Bedi said.
On non-Bollywood markets, he said, “After Hindi, the Bhojpuri music market is the second largest. Marathi for us is a natural integration that we’ve with our television channels and film division, giving us an edge. As we grow in the South, the biggest challenge is building each segment from the base and understanding consumer preferences.”
The recent International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) global music report, the Indian recorded music industry grew 18.7 per cent in 2019, making India one of the biggest in Asia. With the growth of music-streaming platforms like Spotify, homegrown music labels have a new avenue to expand their reach.