As the world's second-largest country with over 1.24 billion people, India's size and diversity in language and geography assure diversity in culture as well. North Indian classical music may be what much of the world thinks of as Indian, but Hindustani music is one of a number of styles available through Internet download services and streams. Some of the major music distributors carry Indian music selections, and there are a number of sites dedicated to songs of the region.
Indian Music Styles
From classical music to folk and popular styles, Indian music is varied and diverse, focused largely around regional languages, with contemporary pop and movie music styles that are distinct as well. Online music streaming service MusicIndiaOnline lists the following among the genres it supports:
- This can be Hindustani, from the north, or Carnatic, from the south.
- Hindi -- Official language of India, from the north
- Punjabi -- Northwest India
- Telugu -- East Central India
- Tamil -- Southeast India and Northeast Sri Lanka
- Malayalam -- Southwest India
- Kannada -- West Central India
- Urdu -- Northwest India
- Bengali -- East India
Online Download Sources
The iTunes Store is the ubiquitous source for downloading music online, and its support for Indian styles is extensive.
At the time of publication, iTunes offered the following categories of Indian music:
- Devotional & Spiritual
- Indian Classical
- Indian Folk
- Indian Pop
- Regional Indian
Choosing a sub-category from iTunes' preview page provides a list of artists active in the genre, with hyperlinks to their music. For example, choosing Indian Classical produces a list of artists including Ravi Shankar, perhaps the most renowned Indian musician worldwide. Clicking on his name links to a personal preview page, with a biography, album. song and video selections. Choosing an item takes you to an in-depth page or to the iTunes Store where downloads can be purchased. Similar previews are available for all artists listed in each of the categories. Purchase and download requires an iTunes Store account.
Known primarily as a streaming music service, Last.fm provides a limited selection of free downloads across many of its supported genres. Often these downloads are from new or lesser known artists, though some mainstream artists' music is available for streaming. Last.fm doesn't divide free downloads by sub-genre, so finding a specific style or region may take some digging.
- This page lists MP3s tagged as Indian music that are free for download.
- Click the Play arrow beside a song title for a preview.
- Click the blue box to the right of the title to download the song.
Currently a streaming music source for many genres of Indian music, Raaga is advertising a premium service in the works that will allow downloads to provide offline access to songs in its playlists.
Currently offering 16 channels, Raaga covers the major Indian language regions and includes fusion and World music genres as well. There is no indication at time of publication when the premium service will come online.