A week after Spotify finally launched in India on Feb. 26, the company published a chart of the 10 top-streamed artists, songs and playlists in the service’s inaugural seven days in the country. Those charts featured an interesting mix of global and local talent, where Lady Gaga was alongside singers like Arijit Singh, best known for his work in Bollywood music.
And while some were quick to point out that Spotify India’s ongoing legal dispute with Warner Music over licensing has resulted in a major chunk of international catalog being unavailable to stream — including one of most-streamed songs on Earth, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran — Spotify boasted a million users in its first week and musically diverse charts featuring rappers, singer-songwriters and bands thriving outside of the commercial space. Here are five must-hear acts who have racked up solid followings on Spotify.
Prateek Kuhad (232,000+ monthly listeners) – The New Delhi/Jaipur singer-songwriter (pictured above, right) cites everyone from Elliott Smith to James Blake as influences, and you can hear it in the soulful, lovesick songs from his debut album “In Tokens and Charms” and his EP, “Cold/mess” which came out in late 2018. While part of his appeal lies with his occasional Hindi material (“Tum Jab Pass,” “Tune Kaha”), he’s clearly expanded his universal fan following with English-language songs, as well as a current U.S. tour that includes showcases at SXSW.
DIVINE (322,000+ monthly listeners) – Even before he became part of Bollywood’s first hip-hop movie “Gully Boy” earlier this year and contributed hugely successful songs like “Azadi,” the Mumbai rapper (pictured above, left) was on his way up. Equally raucous (“Mere Gully Mein,” with fellow breakout rapper Naezy) and emotive (“Farak”), Vivian Fernandes aka DIVINE is rapidly becoming the country’s best known rapper, launching his own label Gully Gang Entertainment and prepping his upcoming album “Kohinoor.”
Peter Cat Recording Co. (45,000+ monthly listeners) – Fronted by smooth singer Suryakant Sawhney, the New Delhi psychedelic/waltz rock band conjure sounds of gypsy and jazz as well. With two albums to their name, the band restarted their catalog after signing to French label Panache and releasing a compilation called “Portrait of a Time: 2010-2016.” They channel ‘60s psychedelia on songs like “Love Demons” but are elegantly drunk on waltz with “Copulations” and “Portrait of a Time.” Up next, a new single later this month, followed by their full-length album “Bismillah.”
Ritviz (136,000+ monthly listeners) – Bred in the city of Pune near Mumbai, the young electronic-music producer has combined his background in Indian classical music with contemporary sounds to create songs for Indian youth who want best of both worlds — whether it’s emphatic Hindi lyrics or buoyant dance music. While he shot to fame with the stand-alone single “Udd Gaye,” he’s kept the rhythm going with tropical, classical-informed songs like “Jeet” and “Barso,” all from his upcoming album “Ved.”
Parekh & Singh (122,000+ monthly listeners) – While Parekh & Singh have released just one album, it quickly became obvious that the Kolkata dreampop duo were bound for big things when their singles began taking off, particularly “I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll,” with its Wes Anderson-channelling video. The album, originally titled “Ocean” and released under Parekh’s name, was soon re-released and more singles ensued. Up next, they turn to their hometown and the universe’s bigger questions on “Science City,” out next month.