Business Standard

Ed Sheeran to Major Lazer, India’s live music scene hits a crescendo

Pitch-high demand is bringing mega bands and legendary musicians to the country

- RISHIKA AGARWAL

India’s live music scene is on fire. Last year, the country hosted over 20 events, with global megastars like Imagine Dragons, Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Deep Purple, 50 Cent, John Legend and Anne-marie rocking the stage across cities. This year, the anticipati­on is off the charts, with Ed Sheeran, Marshmello and Illenium scheduled to perform in the country.

Lollapaloo­za 2024 has already set the beat. The two-day bonanza at the Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai on January 27 and 28 showcased a lineup featuring American pop rock bands such as The Jonas Brothers and Onerepubli­c, South Korean indie-rock band The Rose, and musicians like Halsey, Lauv and Sting.

The music festival made its India debut last January, marking its eighth internatio­nal destinatio­n and the first in Asia. Its inaugural edition, which featured performanc­es by Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, Diplo, Jackson Wang, Alec Benjamin and others, drew 60,000 attendees over two days.

“Live entertainm­ent and music performanc­es are seeing a massive resurgence in India,” says Owen Roncon, chief of business - Live Events, Bookmyshow. “This is not a one-time phenomenon, but something we are witnessing over a vast spectrum, from smaller capacity and intimate concert gatherings to large-scale, stadium-sized gigs and music festivals.”

Lollapaloo­za isn’t the only music festival drawing big names. Sunburn has consistent­ly attracted top-tier DJS such as Swedish House Mafia, Tiesto, Avicii, David Guetta and The Chainsmoke­rs. Likewise, the multi-genre, live-band music festival Vh1 Supersonic brought English singer-songwriter Anne-marie and American rapper Tyga to Pune last year. Its 2024 edition will see Jamaicanam­erican electronic dance music and DJ trio Major Lazer, and Swedish techno producer and DJ Adam Beyer take the stage.

Meanwhile, Bookmyshow’s Bandland, launched in December last year, made waves with acts by British rock band Deep Purple and American rock icons Goo Goo Dolls.

Why India is rocking

India is rapidly emerging as a soughtafte­r destinatio­n for internatio­nal musicians across genres, spanning pop, rock, hip-hop, EDM and beyond. The iconic Backstreet Boys returned after 13 years, captivatin­g audiences in Mumbai and Delhi during their DNA Tour in May 2023.

On February 11, as he performed at Gurugram’s Backyard Sports Club during his maiden tour to India, American rapper G-eazy said, “How beautiful this opportunit­y is to finally get to travel to India... This has been the best two shows of my entire life, the energy is insane. I can’t wait to come back.”

A key factor fuelling this trend is the growing enthusiasm among Indian audiences for quality and curated live entertainm­ent experience­s. With a population known for its love of music and a vibrant cultural scene, the country offers a fertile ground for artists to showcase their talent and connect with a diverse audience, Roncon says.

A bigger stage

Once confined to Mumbai, the live music trend is now expanding to other cities.

OWEN RONCON

Chief of business - Live Events, Bookmyshow

In March last year, Martin Garrix, known for his chart-topping hits, took his performanc­es to Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi-national Capital Region. Following the conclusion of his tour, the Dutch DJ took to Instagram, saying, “India, I miss you guys already and can’t believe we broke the record for most tickets sold for one tour.” Roncon says 2023 marked a seismic shift in India’s live entertainm­ent landscape, with a resurgence of real-life experience­s, post-pandemic. Tier II and III cities are now thriving hubs for outof-home entertainm­ent, showing tremendous growth and evolution in their appetite, he adds.

According to data from Bookmyshow, at Lollapaloo­za India 2024, 34 per cent of attendees journeyed from other cities including Bengaluru, Delhi-ncr, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. For Ed Sheeran’s + - = ÷ x Tour in Mumbai on March 16, 40 per cent of attendees will come from cities such as Kochi, Nagpur, Indore, Chandigarh, Goa, Jaipur and more.

Bookmyshow’s ‘Best of 2023#Entertainm­entonaspre­e’ report showed that 411,002 entertainm­ent enthusiast­s ventured outside of their home cities in pursuit of such once-ina-lifetime experience­s.

Playing to paying power

Music enthusiast­s aren’t shying from spending on premium experience­s. Attendees of Lollapaloo­za 2024 paid between ~6,999 and ~44,999. Ed Sheeran’s concert is priced at ~9,500, while G-eazy’s starts at ~1,500.

Increased online activity, too, is driving fresh interest in internatio­nal music, reshaping the dynamics of local markets. Streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music continue to draw in audiences. Even movies around musical concerts, including Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour and Renaissanc­e: A Film by Beyoncé, are being well-received.

“The reception of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé’s films were greatly positive, highlighti­ng the demand for experienci­ng globally renowned artists across diverse platforms,” says Ashish Saksena, COO - Cinemas, Bookmyshow.

LIVE ENTERTAINM­ENT AND MUSIC SHOWS ARE SEEING A MASSIVE RESURGENCE IN INDIA... THIS IS NOT A ONE-TIME PHENOMENON BUT SOMETHING WE ARE WITNESSING OVER A VAST SPECTRUM

 ?? PHOTO: RISHIKA AGARWAL ?? G-eazy during his performanc­e in Gurugram on February 11
PHOTO: RISHIKA AGARWAL G-eazy during his performanc­e in Gurugram on February 11
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