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Reuters/Shailesh Andrade
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India’s favourite pastime? Bollywood music on YouTube

By Suneera Tandon

Indians are listening to a lot of music on the move.

And this happens primarily through video-streaming apps, YouTube being the most popular, reflecting growing internet penetration and smartphone usage in the country.

In short, music is India’s favourite pastime, outdoing sports and cooking, according to the findings of research firm Nielsen’s Music 360 India survey released on Sept. 12. Over 1,570 online consumers aged between 16 and 45 years were surveyed by Nielsen in India.

“In total, 94% of online consumers listen to music throughout the year. Indian online consumers listen to music for 20 hours per week on average compared with the US general population that listens to music for 32 hours per week,” the report said.

And among genres, Bollywood is the clear winner in India.

Most popular music genres
Bollywood music
Other Indian film music
Indian pop
Indian regional folk
Western pop

Surprisingly, India’s urban millennial users are fast ditching television sets and radio channels, Nielsen’s research noted, even as music-streaming services are on the rise.

Over the past few years, cheap data rates and low-priced smartphones have altered the way India consumes content. Companies such as Facebook and Google, meanwhile, have stepped up efforts to tap into this market by launching less data-hungry apps that run even on lower internet bandwidths. This has led to a clear shift towards mobile-first streaming apps, at least among the users surveyed by Nielsen.

Top 3 most used music streaming services of the past 12 months
YouTube
Jio Music
Google Play

Among those also active on social media, the preferred apps are Musically, Facebook, and Instagram

India’s music-streaming market has picked up steam over the past few years after being backed by large investors. Earlier this year, Reliance Industries-owned JioMusic merged with global music-streaming portal Saavn in a $1 billion-plus deal. In February, homegrown app Gaana got funding from the Chinese internet company Tencent.