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10 things we learned about India’s music industry at All About Music 2021

The fifth edition of annual Indian conference All About Music that took place during the last week of September was, unsurprisingly, its second virtual instalment. It was also its biggest with over 240 speakers delivering keynotes, masterclasses and presentations, participating in conversations and panel discussions or conducting workshops.

With the film industry remaining on pause for much of 2021, the focus this time was on “regional, independent and non-film music”, the uptick in the uptake of which helped the industry tide through another difficult 12 months.

Unlike previous years when they were clubbed together in a single panel, there were separate sessions that put the spotlight on the workings of 14 Indian regional-language music industries. Here’s what we learned after attending almost all of what was on offer. (Disclaimer: This writer moderated a panel discussion at the event.)

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Sony Music India launches new sub-label for ‘new-age pop’

Sony Music India has launched a “genre and language-agnostic” sub-label called Day One, whose “sonic identity is new-age pop” according to MD Rajat Kakar, speaking at its online launch event last week.

The label’s first signings are singer-songwriter Tanmaya Bhatnagar, electronic music producer-composer Pina Colada Blues aka Kevin Shaji, and vocalist, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Kasyap. That makes it Sony’s most recent foray into India’s independent music scene, the size and audience of which has been consistently growing over the last five years.

One reason few Indian indie acts have signed to major labels are the lopsided contracts on offer, in which they give up most of their rights for lump-sum advances. Sony Music declined to elaborate on the structure of Day One’s deals, so the jury is out on how far it will carry out its aim to “define a new music culture”.

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Danish music streaming service Moodagent launches in India

We wrote about Moodagent’s plans to launch in India in our country profile published in October 2020. Last week, the Copenhagen-headquartered audio-streaming service, whose plans to enter the nation we’ve been hearing about since 2018, finally arrived in India.

It’s the fourth market for the company following its Denmark and Germany launch in 2020, and Australia where it began operations in May this year.

While India is an already overcrowded audio streaming market with nine major players, Moodagent claims an edge over rivals thanks to its ”patented core technology that combines artificial intelligence with in-depth music analysis” that enables listeners “to automatically create highly personalised, interactive playlists and then intuitively adjust them to match their individual moods, even as those change”.