Spotify data reveals the South Asian music that appeals to the diaspora

Recent data from the audio streaming platform shows that the South Asian diaspora is listening to a variety of genres, led strong by Bollywood and Punjabi

Mumbai, 21st July 2023: To celebrate this year’s South Asian Heritage Month, Spotify leaned into consumption trends on the platform to understand which genres of music, artists, and songs have been favourites of the diaspora listeners across the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), United Arab Emirates (UAE), Australia, and Canada over the last year.

A few key listening trends that emerged from this data (May-end 2022 – May-end 2023).

The most streamed song among the top 10 during this time period was “Kesariya” (from “Brahmastra”), followed by “Besharam Rang” (from “Pathaan”), and “Jhoome Jo Pathaan” (from “Pathaan”). In a majority of the largest diaspora markets, including the US, UK, UAE, and Australia, the latest Bollywood music featured in the top desi tracks, along with Punjabi and Hindi pop music.

In Canada, the story is different with the diaspora’s strong inclination toward Punjabi music, with the top 10 most streamed desi songs last year featuring no Bollywood, but Punjabi pop and hip-hop. “52 Bars” by Karan Aujla and Ikky was the most listened to track, followed by “On Top” by Karan Aujla, and “Take It Easy” by Karan Aujla and Ikky. Overall, 6 out of the top 10 desi artists streamed in Canada were Punjabi, including the late Sidhu Moose Wala, Karan Aujla, AP Dhillon, Diljit Dosanjh, Arjan Dhillan, and Ikky. For all other markets, Arijit Singh was the most streamed South Asian artist.

Spotify data also shows that the USA emerged as the top importer of music from the region, followed closely by the UK, Canada, Australia, and Germany. The UAE witnessed a whopping 72% year-on-year surge in South Asian music imports, while Toronto emerged as the city that streamed the highest volume of this music among, followed by Melbourne, Sydney, Brampton, and Dubai.

South Asian music is undoubtedly here to stay, and India is one of the largest contributors to the export of artists from this region” says Rahul Balyan, Head of Music, Spotify India.

“With Spotify, sounds from across the world have become easier to discover and share, and for the Indian diaspora, which happens to be the largest in the world, music is an integral part of how they stay connected to their roots. All our data indicates that film as well as pop music appeals the most to those listeners, and Indian artists performing at international music festivals is testament to the impact that they are making even beyond the diaspora,” he adds.

Among Spotify’s desi playlists, Punjabi 101, Desi Hits, Bollywood Butter, Desi Indie, Desi Hip Hop, desi lofi, and South Asian Sufi are among the most popular. In fact, the streams for South Asian Sufi increased the most by 66% – between May-end 2022 to May-end 2023 among the diaspora.

The South Asian Heritage Month is celebrated in July by and for diaspora with roots in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives.

Given the role of music in connecting people to each other and their culture, this year, Spotify has joined forces with the Birmingham Mela, the biggest South Asian cultural festival in the UK that brings together the community each year. This partnership will feature performances from renowned Indian artist Guru Randhawa, adding to the celebration of South Asian music and culture. He also featured on Spotify’s billboard in Toronto, and will soon be seen on the brand’s billboard in London.

King and Sunanda Sharma also joined the celebration and curated the Spotlight: King and Spotlight: Sunanda Sharma playlists, featuring their favourite South Asian tracks, for Spotify listeners.

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