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Bollywood a big hit with iTunes

Last updated on: September 10, 2008 15:00 IST

Bollywood music is getting increasingly popular on global legal music sites. Even though Apple Inc's iTunes is not available in India, the world's largest legal music download site has 17 Bollywood tracks among the top 100 (world music category) most downloaded tunes. iTune downloads are available in 23 countries.

The theme song of Rock On, the recently released film co-produced by Farhan Akhtar (of Dil Chahta Hai fame) and Reliance Entertainment, ranks 13th in the charts. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na with its popular songs Kabhi kabhi Aditi has grabbed the 9th position. And Singh Is Kinng and Baachna Ae Haseeno is 11th and 17th in the pecking order. Just two years ago, there were only a few Bollywood tracks among the top 50.

According to industry estimates, there are at least 12,000 Bollywood albums currently available on iTunes, which means over 80,000 tracks for download. Two years back, there were just about 20 per cent of 12,000 albums or 2,400 albums that featured on iTunes.

What started as a trickle three years ago has now hit big time with music companies putting more and more songs on iTunes. "Three years back, when we started off, Bollywood filmmakers were not very bullish about promoting music content on a global platform. Under iTunes' world category of songs, Bollywood certainly features in the top three," said Neeraj Roy, CEO, Hungama Mobile. The company has been responsible for making Bollywood music available on iTunes.

The biggest market for Hindi tracks is the US, while the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan and Ireland are other major markets. "There is an emergence of new markets such as North Africa, Morocco, Kenya that are showing great interest in Bollywood songs," added Kulmeet Makkar, CEO, Big Music & Video, a group company of Reliance Entertainment, which is distributing the music of Rock On. Big Music & Video has 75 tracks on iTunes.

Saregama India has witnessed a 20-25 per cent growth in revenues from iTunes. The music company which started making its titles available on iTunes in 2004 has 30,000 tracks currently, but plans to increase it to 1,50,000. Of this, 60,000 will be Bollywood songs, according to Atul Churamani, vice-president, Saregama India. In 2004, it had around 7,000 tracks. Others are not looking at revenue but want to expand the market at the moment.

"Despite the fact that revenue from iTunes for Bollywood songs is negligible owing to piracy, we see a need to reach out to new markets," said Bhushan Kumar, chairman and managing director, T-Series. The company now has 50,000 tracks uploaded on iTunes, a significant increase from the 1,000 odd tracks it had two years ago.

The pricing for a song download can vary, but usually range between 79 to 99 cents. The songs are made available on iTunes either in sync with physical release or later. The Bollywood iTunes cater to the Indian diaspora in a big way. Industry experts observe that there is high demand for Bollywood music content on iTunes.

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