Sound check: Indie music finally gets a place under Sun

Sound check: Indie music finally gets a place under Sun

By Kunal Doley

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone, including musicians and artistes, across the globe. The worst hit are independent or indie musicians, as concerts and live performances have been repeatedly postponed or even cancelled amid the unprecedented health crisis.

Although it will be unfair to say that their financials have changed drastically during the pandemic, as compared to the pre-Covid times, indie artistes are now getting the much-needed support in terms of visibility and audience connect, thanks to some novel initiatives being taken out by music platforms in the past couple of years.

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

“I am of the belief that this period has also been a bit of an eye-opener for most musicians as they realised that they need to explore different avenues to generate income and keep afloat,” he says.

With its music licensing marketplace Hoopr, Dagaonkar’s company is now encouraging musicians to put up their songs on the platform which can then be made available for ‘sync licensing’. This can be a source of revenue for them where they create original music that can be liked and earn them money for perpetuity. “A young music creator sitting in a small city may find his or her track being picked up by a movie or a large ad campaign, receive credits and get paid handsomely, without necessarily shifting to a large city or constantly ‘pitching’ songs,” he explains.

Similarly, Times Internet-owned Gaana has been launching several projects to celebrate indie artistes. Last year, the music streaming service launched a new initiative for indie artists and indie music—Gaana Indie Fest, a series of hour-long daily live online music concerts, between August 11 and 14, to put some exciting talent in the spotlight.

While aiding the growth of indie music, the virtual music fest offered a massive platform for emerging artists to showcase their talent and establish a personal connection with their fans.

Earlier in October 2020, Gaana kicked off another programme—Gaana Launchpad—to bring emerging indie artistes into the spotlight. Handpicked by Gaana’s in-house editors, the Launchpad features a playlist comprising 40 tracks, encompassing new releases and exclusive content offering the most promising independent artistes a platform to reach over 185 million users across India.

“We have also hosted multiple concert-style and more intimate 60-second-long short concerts on our social media platforms and our app. These have offered artistes the opportunity to perform in front of their audience,” says Sandeep Lodha, CEO of Gaana.

Emerging trends

Indie music streams and indie artists on Gaana have grown 3x in the past 12 months across all languages like Hindi, Punjabi, English, Tamil and Telugu, among others. While sharing a few interesting trends within the sector, Lodha says that the barrier of language is very low now. “Listeners enjoy songs in languages they would not generally indulge in, and several songs have a mix of more than one of two languages within a song,” says Lodha, adding: “Indie music is also making its way into web series, and it has helped this music get large-scale exposure. When Chai Met Toast’s (Kochi-based indie-folk alternative band) latest release Yellow Paper Daisy reached Gaana’s English Trending Charts, making it the first indie song to do so—where it’s competing with the international releases in India.”

Agrees Mohit Kaushal, founder and CEO of YouForrte, a ‘gateway’ for people seeking avenues in the media and entertainment industry. “The Covid-19 period has given rise to something which is known as the OTT boom. It is now understood that music does not play an important part only in films and gaming. There have been talents who sparked a new revolution of introducing hair-raising background scores, newer melodies and giving label artistes 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 chants of Labb Par Aaye from Bandish Bandits (web series), viewers are lapping up music and their favourite musicians on the web space too,” explains Kaushal, whose company provides a wide range of networks to connect with the media and entertainment industry, especially for people looking for jobs and assignments.

YouForrte enables evaluation of candidates through their interview and practical skills, and all these get displayed on the platform. “The platform takes the responsibility to ease the process by providing facilities in recording and assisting projects to perform live in local clubs,” adds Kaushal.

Meanwhile, when we speak about indie music, which is generally non-film music, we are witnessing a slow but steady rise across all the regions in India. “With the advent of social media and streaming platforms, these artistes have a huge fan base with their style and genre of music and this is catching all the attention. This is just the beginning. We will witness a transformation going forward with the kind of content that is being 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 presence in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Mohali. Believe’s mission is to develop independent artistes and labels in the digital world by providing them the solutions they need to grow their audience at each stage of their career and development.

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

Apart from streaming, we are also seeing fandom and collectibles emerge as a source of revenue from artistes. Earlier, it was restricted to merchandise, now it’s expanding to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). “With all this, the future looks promising and the relationship between an artiste and his or her fan is going beyond just listening to songs, but becoming shareholders or partners in the artiste’s journey with NFT and tokens coming in,” says Dagaonkar of GSharp.

On a positive note

During the pandemic, musicians were not able to reach out to fans and connect with them directly. “The situation has made us think rotationally with everything that is happening around us rather than be a minimalistic thinker. The last two years have been a drastic change for all of us but somehow, we have been positive, and music did find its way,” says Alok R Babu, popularly known as All Ok, a rapper, singer, actor and music producer based in Bengaluru. He is known for Kannada rap songs like Don’t Worry, Yaakinge, Happy, Nan Kannadiga, Deja Vu, Urban Lads and many more.

“The situation gave us an opportunity to recreate live gigs through virtual interactions and this helped and motivated us during such a tough time. But I am sure that once this is settled, the independent music scene is going to be bigger and brighter, and we are all waiting to come back to our fans and hear them cheering,” he adds.

Young and talented emerging music talents have been producing fresh music, irrespective of Bollywood music releases. “However, people are more open to exploring new genres of music now, and are giving these newer artists a chance, often liking them, discovering similar artists and sharing their recommendations with friends thanks to streaming platforms. Almost 8-10% of our audience listen to indie music and this has grown 3x in the last 12 months,” says Lodha of Gaana.

Musician All OK says it will be wrong to differentiate between mainstream and independent music as both are music at the end of the day, through which they reach out to their fan base and keep them entertained.

“We have been witnessing the rise of the independent music scene before the pandemic as well, but it was a slow progress. But now, we are seeing a gradual rise of the independent music scene, especially in the last few years, which makes me very happy,” he adds.

Quotes: People are more open to exploring new genres of music now. Almost 8-10% of our audience listen to indie music and this has grown

3x in the last 12 months

—Sandeep Lodha, CEO, Gaana

The (pandemic) period has been an eye-opener for most musicians as they realised the need to explore different avenues and keep afloat

—Gaurav Dagaonkar,

co-founder, GSharp Media

This is just the beginning. We will witness a transformation going forward with the kind of content that is being created and consumed 

—Vivek Raina, MD, Believe India

Check the source here –Source, Financial Express.