What the live music scene looked like on Skillbox over the past 12 months
The live music scene resurged in a big way in 2022 with a record number of events. Fans were spoilt for choice, thanks to the return of much-loved festivals, the launch of new ones, and a packed gig roster that didn’t dip much even during the traditionally slow monsoon months from June to August. We weren’t complaining. It was a bumper year for event ticketing platforms in India. On this online ticket booking platform, for example, the number of events listed were 5x of 2021. We broke down the data for 2022 to give you some insights on how the year played out.
The top cities
Over the last five years, India’s touring circuit has expanded far beyond the traditional triumvirate of Mumbai-Delhi-Bengaluru. But in terms of both number of tickets sold as well as revenue earned on Skillbox, these three cities remain the top spots. What’s interesting though is that while Mumbai, the birthplace of gully rap, draws the highest amount of ticket buyers and proceeds for hip-hop, Bengaluru leads both when it comes to Indian indie (which we’re taking to be concerts and festivals largely featuring bands and solo singers). It’s a split scenario when it comes to electronic music: more Mumbaikars attend shows but Delhi’s big spenders buy the pricier tickets. Adding all the genres together, Bengaluru emerges as the top city, followed by Mumbai and then New Delhi and the National Capital Region, which includes venues in Gurgaon and Noida.
The rest of the top ten is made up of Goa (yes, yes, we know it’s a state, not a city), Mumbai’s sister city Pune, electronic music-loving Hyderabad, Kolkata, Guwahati, Chandigarh and Chennai. Zooming further out, the fastest-growing Tier-II cities, at least as far as the live music scene is concerned, are Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Indore, Dehradun and Udaipur. These dozen-plus locations cover most corners of the country, which means it’s now entirely possible for acts to plot bonafide nationwide tours.
The top genres
Given that there are more gigs by DJ-producers every week than those by live acts, it’s no surprise that electronic music emerged as the most popular genre on Skillbox in 2022. But hip-hop is quickly catching up and has now overtaken indie to occupy the runner-up position on the live music scene. This could also have to do with the fact that nearly 57% of the tickets sold on Skillbox this year were for club gigs.
The top events
The year’s top events, ranked on the basis of revenue, are a reflection of the top genres. Berlin-based Italian electronic music duo Tale Of Us’s tour of India in November, which was promoted by sLick! and had stops in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru, sold the highest number of tickets. Rapper Divine’s long-awaited comeback gigs in Mumbai and New Delhi in May took the second spot and were the best-attended events for an Indian act. Rock is represented in the top three by Australian guitarist and composer Plini’s three India shows in September this year – solo concerts in New Delhi and Bengaluru and a headlining set at the Mumbai edition of the Skillbox’s own LiveBox Festival.
Narrowing down the biggest gigs to stand-alone shows, two electronic music mavens sandwich a rock star in the top three. Tale Of Us’ tour was the highest grossing of the year followed by Plini’s New Delhi and Bengaluru legs. Completing the winner’s podium is Portuguese DJ-producer and ‘Melodark’ exponent Hozho whose three-city trek in October and November covered New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
If we only count festivals, the Bengaluru edition of Kochi-based promoter Wonderwall Media Network’s multi-city IndieGaga International Music and Arts Festival, which was held in November and featured Malayalam rock bands Avial and Thaikkudam Bridge among several other acts, was the year’s highest-selling. It was followed by the inaugural edition of the LiveBox Festival in Bengaluru this July, which was headlined by genre-defying rockers Peter Cat Recording Co. In third place was LiveBox’s aforementioned Mumbai leg.
When and how fans bought their tickets
Based on data for 30 large-scale events, tickets for which were sold on Skillbox, music concert attendees, are, mostly, a bunch of procrastinators. On average, less than 15% of purchases occur on the day of the announcement that tickets sales are live. In contrast, close to 40% of the sales take place in the week just before the event. Considering that most such events happen over the weekend, it’s not surprising that Saturday is the day most people get their tickets, followed by Friday.
One reason for this late-to-the-party behaviour could be that ticket sales for many festivals are live before the line-up is announced, and that, even now, for a majority of folks in our country, who’s playing is often the main criteria when deciding whether to buy passes. As for how they snap them up, UPI was the mode of payment for an overwhelming majority of ticket buyers, accounting for 64% of all purchases. Next up was credit cards or debit cards, details of which were keyed in by 29%, followed in distant third place by the use of wallets by a mere 5%.
What live music might look like in 2023
With the threat of another wave of the pandemic, promoters might start treading cautiously again over the next few months. For now though, gig calendars for January and February are already full with some huge festivals, including the return of Vh1 Supersonic after a three-year break and the new three-city Oddball Festival. Will line-ups now lean more towards local acts? That prediction, made in 2020, didn’t exactly come true once things got back to (relatively) normal.
We expect to see more big-ticket acts charting larger, longer treks, though figuring out the economics of touring has proved a struggle for upcoming artists. A trend that’s likely to stay strong in the new year is live music becoming an integral part of events and festivals centred around food, drink, shopping and automobiles. Here’s keeping our fingers and toes crossed that things go to plan and 2023 is even bigger and better than 2022.