Sound check: indie music finally has its place under the sun

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With concerts and live shows postponed or canceled amid the pandemic, some music platforms are offering new initiatives to support independent artists across the country.

By Kunal Doley

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone, including musicians and artists, across the world. The hardest hit are independent or self-employed musicians, as concerts and live performances have been repeatedly postponed or even canceled amid the unprecedented health crisis.

While it’s unfair to say that their finances have changed drastically during the pandemic, compared to the pre-Covid era, independent artists are now getting much-needed support in terms of exposure and connecting with audiences. , thanks to some new initiatives being taken by music platforms over the past two years.

“The past 12-18 months have been particularly challenging for musicians and the industry, especially those who relied heavily on live broadcasts,” says Gaurav Dagaonkar, co-founder and CEO of GSharp Media, a content and Mumbai-based tech company that focuses on building media technology platforms and content brands.

“I’m sure this period was also an eye opener for most musicians, as they realized they had to explore different avenues to generate income and stay afloat,” he says.

With its music licensing marketplace Hoopr, the Dagaonkar-based company now encourages musicians to post their songs on the platform, which can then be made available for a “sync license”. It can be a source of income for them where they create original music that can be loved and earn them money in perpetuity. “A young music maker sitting in a small town can see their track get picked up by a movie or a big ad campaign, get credits, and get paid handsomely, without necessarily moving to a big city or constantly ‘throwing’ songs” , he explains.

Similarly, Gaana, owned by Times Internet, has launched several projects to celebrate independent artists. Last year, the music streaming service launched a new initiative for independent artists and indie music: Gaana Indie Fest, a series of hour-long daily online music concerts, from August 11-14, to highlight spotlighting exciting talent.

While helping the growth of independent music, the virtual music festival offered a massive platform for up-and-coming artists to showcase their talent and make a personal connection with their fans.

Earlier in October 2020, Gaana launched another program – Gaana Launchpad – to put emerging independent artists in the spotlight. Handpicked by Gaana’s in-house editors, the Launchpad features a playlist of 40 tracks, encompassing new releases and exclusive content giving the most up-and-coming indie artists a platform to reach over 185 million users. across India.

“We also hosted several short concert-style and more intimate 60-second gigs on our social media platforms and app. These gave artists the opportunity to perform in front of their audiences,” says Sandeep Lodha, CEO of Gaana.

Emerging trends

Independent music streams and independent artists on Gaana have tripled in the last 12 months across all languages ​​like Hindi, Punjabi, English, Tamil and Telugu among others. While sharing some interesting industry trends, Lodha says the language barrier is now very low. “Listeners appreciate songs in languages ​​they don’t usually indulge in, and several songs have a mix of more than one of the two languages ​​in a song,” says Lodha, adding, “Indie music is also making its way into web series, and he helped this music gain wide-scale exposure.When Chai Met Toast’s (Kochi-based indie-folk alternative band) latest release, Yellow Paper Daisy hit the UK Gaana charts, which making it the first independent song to do so, where it competes with international releases in India.

Agree Mohit Kaushal, founder and CEO of YouForrte, a “gateway” for people looking for opportunities in the media and entertainment industry. “The Covid-19 period has given rise to what is known as the OTT boom. It is now understood that music does not only play an important role in movies and games. There were talents that sparked a new revolution by introducing stunning background music, new melodies and giving label artists and indie musicians a chance to explore genres and introduce exciting crafts. From the haunting theme song of Scam 1992 (web series) to the beautiful vocals of Labb Par Aaye from Bandish Bandits (web series), viewers are enjoying music and their favorite musicians on the web space as well,” says Kaushal, whose company provides a wide range of networks to connect with the media and entertainment industry, especially for people seeking jobs and assignments.

YouForrte allows candidates to be evaluated through their interview and practical skills, and all of this is displayed on the platform. “The platform takes responsibility for facilitating the process by providing facilities for recording and helping projects perform live at local clubs,” Kaushal adds.

Meanwhile, when it comes to indie music, which is usually non-cinematic music, there is a slow but steady rise in all parts of India. “With the advent of social media and streaming platforms, these artists have a huge fanbase with their style and genre of music and it’s getting all the attention. This is just the beginning. We will see a transformation in the future with the type of content that is created and consumed,” says Vivek Raina, Managing Director of Believe India, a digital music company that was established in India in 2013 and now has a presence in Mumbai. , New Delhi. , Chennai and Mohali. Believe’s mission is to develop independent artists and labels in the digital world by providing them with the solutions they need to grow their audience at every stage of their career and development.

In 2020, Believe India held a relief fundraiser for folk artists called ‘Let’s folk together’, which aimed to preserve the heritage of folk music with a series of digital concerts. “With this success, we created another campaign in partnership with Google and an NGO and continued our support for folk musicians across the country,” adds Raina.

Besides streaming, we are also seeing fandoms and collectibles emerging as a source of income for artists. Previously it was limited to commodities, now it extends to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). “With all this, the future looks bright and the relationship between an artist and their fan goes beyond just listening to songs, but becomes a shareholder or partner in the artist’s journey with NFT and the tokens that arrive” , says Dagaonkar of GSharp.

On a positive note

During the pandemic, musicians were unable to contact fans and connect with them directly. “The situation made us think in rotation with everything that is happening around us rather than being a minimalist thinker. The past two years have been a drastic change for all of us, but somehow we have been positive and the music has found its way,” says Alok R Babu, popularly known as All Ok, a Bangalore-based rapper, singer, actor and music producer. He is known for his Kannada rap songs like Don’t Worry, Yaakinge, Happy, Nan Kannadiga, Deja Vu, Urban Lads and many more.

“The situation has given us the opportunity to recreate live concerts through virtual interactions, which has helped and motivated us during such a difficult time. But I am sure that once this is settled, the music scene independent will be bigger and brighter, and we’re all waiting to get back to our fans and hear them cheer,” he adds.

Young and talented emerging music talents have been producing fresh music, regardless of Bollywood music releases. “However, people are more open to exploring new genres of music now, and are giving these new artists a chance, liking them often, discovering similar artists, and sharing their recommendations with friends through streaming platforms. 8-10% of our audience listen to independent music and this has tripled in the last 12 months,” says Lodha de Gaana.

The All OK musician says it would be wrong to differentiate between mainstream music and indie music, as both are ultimately music, through which they reach their fan base and entertain them.

“We also saw the rise of the independent music scene before the pandemic, but progress has been slow. But now we are seeing a gradual rise in the independent music scene, especially in recent years, which makes me very happy,” he adds.

Quotes: People are more open to exploring new genres of music now. Nearly 8-10% of our audience listen to independent music and it’s growing

3x in the last 12 months

—Sandeep Lodha, CEO, Gaana

The (pandemic) period was an eye opener for most musicians as they realized the need to explore different avenues and stay afloat

—Gaurav Dagaonkar,

co-founder, GSharp Media

This is just the beginning. We will see a transformation in the future with the type of content that is created and consumed

—Vivek Raina, MD, Believe India

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