Sonu Nigam, singer
From Om Namah Shivay and Shri Hanuman Chalisa to Wahi Hai Mera Ram and Shri Ram Dhun – singer Sonu Nigam has been releasing devotional songs frequently.
“I have done devotional music across religions and languages throughout my career. From mata ki bheinten and Sai bhajans to hamds and naads (religious chants praising Allah) and Sufi qawwalis to Radha Soami bhajans, I have done it all. I’ve also sung Christmas carols in the past. I still release spiritual songs on my label, I Believe Music. My version of the Hanuman Chalisa won three awards recently. Bhushan Kumar (of the music label T-Series) plans to release a lot of spiritual music with me. That clearly means there is enormous demand for devotional music,” he says.
Salim Merchant, composer
Alongside releasing film and non-film music, composers Salim-Sulaiman launched a label for devotional music, Merchant Records Devotional, a couple of months ago.
From songs like Shambho and Devon Ke Dev to Allah Hu and Gayatri Mantra – they have had over 60 devotional releases so far. “I grew up in a family that would listen to a lot of devotional music. My father, who was a Bollywood composer in the ’60s, also made a lot of devotional songs. So, he inspired me to pursue that form of music. Besides having a timeless quality, devotional songs have a lot of takers as it appeals to listeners across age group. Also, devotional songs aren’t limited to any religion or caste; they have a universal appeal. While releasing devotional music on our label, I never think of revenues when I make devotional music. I always follow Saraswati and believe that Laxmi follows (smiles),” says Salim Merchant.
Kavita Seth, singer
Having released devotional songs such as Ibaadat and Sunta Hai Guru, singer Kavita Seth says, “I always release devotional songs because they give me a lot of peace. Devotional songs have a lot of listeners even today and that’s why such songs do so well. As far as revenue is concerned, devotional music is very profitable.”
She adds “In fact, there are so many musicians who only sing devotional music. Also, with things going digital, those musicians have also started getting royalties. However, when I work on a devotional song, my focus is never on the commercials involved.” Talking about her favourite devotional songs, she says, “I feel a lot of power within when I sing Mero To Giridhar Gopal. It’s very close to my heart. I also like the bhajan Bansi Sab Sur Tyaage Hai, written by Zubair Ali Taabish.”
Devotional songs and the streaming game
Even DSPs bet hugely on devotional music, as the genre, which is considered “evergreen”, has a lot of takers. “Devotional music has a lot of takers at our platform. In fact, the devotional playlist is always among the top 10. So many singers and labels have been releasing devotional music of late to connect with the youth. Such music gets a lot of streams. Devotional songs rule our platform on special days like Shivratri, Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi. In fact, now that Shravan has started, the playouts for devotional songs will be the highest for the next two months,” says Manoj Sharma, assistant manager – editorial, Gaana.