Bollywood downloads surpass physical sales


NEW DELHI -- Digital music -- specifically mobile downloads dominated by Bollywood soundtracks -- will surpass physical music sales in India, according to data released Thursday by Singapore-based digital rights management company Soundbuzz.

Soundbuzz CEO Sudanshu Sarronwala said that this will probably make India the second country in the world after South Korea where digital music will surpass physical sales.

Soundbuzz estimates that the total size (retail value of both physical and mobile) of the Indian industry at $329 million in 2005 will grow to $930 million by 2009, of which mobile music will contribute a sizable $810 million, an eight-fold increase from mobile sales of $102 million in 2005. Physical sales, estimated at $22.7 million in 2005 will drop by half to $11.36 million by 2009.

Soundbuzz predicts that the Asia Pacific growth in mobile sales will rise three times from $2.89 billion in 2005 to $8.57 billion in 2009, while growth in India in the same period reflects an eightfold increase.

Sarronwala attributes this to "exponential growth in mobile subscriptions at seven million subscribers a month" to the current base of 150 million mobile subscribers.

By contrast, Indian online growth is limited by low broadband penetration at two million subscribers because "mobile telephony has fitted into consumer lifestyles far better in Asia than say, in the U.S.," adds Sarronwala, who nevertheless points that India's broadband base will touch 30 million by 2009.

Bollywood dominated mobile earnings in 2005, clocking about $81.8 million, and is predicted to increase to $636 million in 2009. "The music industry would earn an average 25%-30% of this number," says Sarronwala, which "more than offsets the drop in physical sales."