In streaming era, some music stores still groove

In streaming era, some music stores still groove

CD sales have plunged as online streaming catches on, but some stores are holding out by going niche.

Mahatobar Distribution is situated in the Public Utility Building on MG Road.

As technology changes the way people discover and listen to music, its physical citadels are slowly moving into the shadows.

A report by music streaming platform Hungama Music says growth in music streaming has tripled in Karnataka in 2018 in a year.

Needless to say, it has been complemented by a decline in the sales of CDs.

Music stores across Bengaluru have shut down, or changed their line of business.

But some stores are sticking around, and say not all is lost.

Vikas Chawla, owner of Calypso in Jayanagar, agrees business has slowed down. “But different avenues have opened up. Mainstream Bollywood music is not selling in CDs as it is easily available online. However, classical Indian music, old Hindi songs and classic English music still sell in CD format,” he says.

Set up in 1999, Calypso was one of Bengaluru’s busiest music stores before the advent of online streaming.

Calypso has moved from 9th Main, 3rd Block, to a smaller space. It is now located opposite Nilgiri’s in the same area.

Not all music stores have found the transition easy.

“Business was great in the 1990s and early 2000s but it has gone down now,” says Anand, owner of Kalpatharu CDs And Cassette Center in Wilson Garden.

“Cassettes and CDs are great mediums but everyone goes online to listen to music these days. It is affecting the livelihood of people like me,” he says.

However, the demand for vinyl (LP records) has seen a small increase, with Calypso being one of the few stores in the city selling them.

“How we survive right now is through the sale of high-value stuff like vinyls, pendrives brought out by music companies, Blu-rays and international music on imported CDs. People don’t mind buying Blu-rays for high-end home theatres,” he says.

Customers walking into Calypso are mostly above 35-40 years.

CD stores catering to a niche crowd are not too badly off, as shown by Mahatobar Distribution, Public Utility Building, MG Road. The store will complete five years this May. 

Vikram Bhat, owner, says, “My store is a more of a speciality store. I stock only classic, hard rock, heavy metal and extreme metal music on CD and vinyl only.”

He believes he has been able to keep the business going since he doesn’t have to stock “more varieties to cater to a wider audience.”

Bhat personally interacts with customers and meets their requests for titles. His customers range from 25 to 60 years.

Siddhartha Roy, COO of Hungama
Digital Media

How is streaming viable?

So if the major attraction for going online is free music, how do music streaming platforms run their businesses?

Siddhartha Roy, COO of Hungama Digital Media, explains: “On a freemium service like ours, users can enjoy the benefits of a free service and a paid service on the same platform. The free model is supported by ads and users can stream music without having to pay for it. Users can become paid subscribers to experience HD quality ad-free music, unlimited downloads and gain access to our premium library of music videos. This model has worked for us and we have seen remarkable growth in both sets of users and also witnessed users sampling the free version before becoming paid subscribers.”

Why are vinyls bought?
“The sound quality in vinyls is much better than in digital formats. That’s why vinyls have made a comeback: their analog sound is clear. In fact, in the US, even cassettes have made a comeback,” says Vikram Chawla of Calypso music store.

Karnataka is No 3 state in streaming

The Hungama Music Sound of Fame Report says Karnataka contributed 10 per cent to the total number of streams in 2018 – the third highest in the country.

The first two states are Maharastra at 16 per cent and Uttar Pradesh at 12 per cent.

Nine of the 10 most streamed Kannada songs were done by Arjun Janya. These included ‘Yenammi Yenammi’ (Ayogya), the most streamed song of the year, followed by ‘Chuttu Chuttu’ (Raambo-2), ‘I am Villain’ (The Villain) and Dum Maro Dum (Raambo-2). Among films, ‘The Villain’ had a total of four songs in the top 10 list, followed by ‘Raambo 2’ and ‘Ayogya’ with three and two songs respectively.

Nationally ‘Dilbar’ from ‘Satyamev Jayate’, sung by Neha Kakkar, was 2018’s top song. Under Hindi, with over 71 million streams, ‘Loveyatri’ was the most streamed album in 2018. With 25% contribution to Bollywood music’s consumption, it was also the year of remakes. Apart from Dilbar, ‘Aankh Maare’ (Simbaa), ‘Tere Bin’ (Simbaa), ‘Dekhte Dekhte’ (Batti Gul Meter Chalu) and ‘Urvashi’ (Yo Yo Honey Singh) were some remakes that did well.

Maroon 5’s ‘Girls Like You’ emerged the top English song of 2018; DJ Snake’s ‘Taki Taki’ and Drake’s ‘In My Feelings’ grabbed the second and third spot respectively.

Calypso is in Jayanagar.

Stores still in biz

- Calypso, 4th Block, Jayanagar

- Mahatobar Distribution, Public Utility Building, MG Road

- Kalpatharu, Siddaiah Road, Wilson Garden

- Cassette Track, DVG Road, Basavanagudi

- Sri Saibaba Cassette Centre, Sampige Road, Malleswaram West

- Total Kannada, 4th Block,Jayanagar

- Saregama Music, 80 Feet Ring Rd, Sharada Colony, Basaveshwar Nagar

- Rams Musique, Public Utility Building, MG Road

New gen band, old world format

Bengaluru pop, funk and rock band ‘Clown With A Frown’ decided to release 200 vinyl records, without the support of a label.

“We’re a disco band and we wanted to keep a little of the old school format. We also offered the option to pre-order vinyls but we didn’t receive enough pre-orders,” says Promod, a member of the band.

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