Challenging opportunities: When Indian regional music gets online


  • Florence Nowak École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris



Along with better connectivity, massive free music downloading and streaming have reached the Himalayan ranges of the Garhwal region (North India) in the 2000s. It has been a game changer for the creation, circulation and consumption practices of Garhwali music, a repertoire sung in the local dialect. MP3s and MP4s are gradually replacing DVDs and CDs on the market, and the economic scenario is comparable to that of national creative industries: a more scattered distribution of content and profits, a tougher competition for visibility. Yet Garhwali music also faces specific challenges due to its topography, high percentage of emigrants and labeling as “regional music”; these challenges can be analyzed ethnographically from the point of view of artists and audiences. Indeed, Garhwali music’s diffusion lies increasingly in the hands of the listeners on one hand, who upload content, circulate it off-line, act as trend setters and make it a matter of collective cultural heritage; and in the hands of bigger third-party players on the other hand, who, like label T-Series, are engaged in a battle against piracy. In such online distribution channels, visibility is the key value and the law is not always the reference for authority or authorship. The situation is dire for most local artists and producers, but strategies are being experimented to take advantage of this new environment.




How to Cite

Nowak, F. (2014). Challenging opportunities: When Indian regional music gets online. First Monday, 19(10).