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The Significance of the Shazam India Top 100

The weekly chart published by the song identification app might be the most important international music survey in our country

Amit Gurbaxani Jul 15, 2015
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A still from Major Lazer’s video for “Lean On”

Most music charts across the world are based on sales. However, in India where the market for international music remains relatively small, sales are not really an accurate representation of a song’s popularity.

How then do you tell if a track is a hit? One way is to ask yourself how often you hear it. In a country where you can count the number of English music radio and TV channels on one hand, this question can be best answered by checking the number of times you chance upon a tune outside of these two mediums ”“ in a nightclub or a pub, at a restaurant, in a shop or mall, or even at the gym.

This is where Shazam comes in. The app, as you probably know, identifies a song being played, and is typically used when you like what you’re hearing or just can’t remember what it’s called. The Shazam Top 100 chart, which ranks tracks on the basis of how often they are ”˜tagged’ by users, is then a good measure of how popular a tune is at the moment.

What’s the current most Shazam-ed song in India? “Lean On” by Major Lazer featuring MØ and DJ Snake, which is No.1 on the Top 100 released July 14. The track of course has a strong India connection – the video, featuring dancers dressed in Kerala saris, was filmed here during the Mumbai leg of Major Lazer’s tour of the country last December.

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Unlike the charts published by streaming services such as Gaana and Guvera, the Shazam Top 100, notably, doesn’t differentiate between genres. In that sense it’s like the Billboard Hot 100. Bollywood, English and regional language tunes each compete on an even playing field. Here’s the somewhat surprising thing – a Hindi film song, namely “Hasi” from Humaari Adhuri Kahani, doesn’t figure until No.6 on the current list.

The rest of the top five is as follow: “Where Are U Now” by Skrillex and (Major Lazor member) Diplo with Justin Bieber, “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk The Moon, “Cheerleader” by OMI and “Waiting For Love” by Avicii. The one thing those singles have in common is they’re all up-tempo and dance-friendly, which means they’re probably being played at clubs, gyms, shops, as well as at house parties and on car stereos.

Given how popular the genre is here however, one thing that isn’t that surprising is how high electronic dance music tracks are on the Shazam chart. What might raise an eyebrow is that by consistently topping the India chart since Shazam launched it in May 2014, hits by electronica acts have proven to be as popular as Bollywood tunes. “I think that’s an accurate assessment,” said Julian Marshall, global head at Shazam in an email interview.

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The most Shazamed song in India ever, Marshall said, is “Animals” by Dutch house music producer Martin Garrix. Among the most Shazamed artists of all time here are Avicii, David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia and Hindi film playback singer Arijit Singh.  For the music industry then, the Shazam charts, which are a good indicator of future hits (in the traditional sense), are especially significant in India.

“Charts are incredibly important for music discovery,” said Marshall. “Our charts are used globally by fans to discover the best new music first, and also by industry executives and radio stations to help inform their decision making.” In India perhaps the folks the Shazam charts can serve most are festival programmers. On the basis of this week’s survey, they’ve probably cast their eyes on Norway’s Kygo, Sweden’s Galantis and Germany’s Robin Schulz as potential headliners for the upcoming season.

The Shazam India Top 100 is published every Tuesday on www.shazam.com and on the app.



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