The road to being an independent musician is not easy, but many bands and individuals have survived the existential crises and gathered audiences of their own
Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything”. However, in today’s times, much has been said about how very few independent musicians really “make it big”. One might think that the odds are enough to put someone off a music career and take up a regular job instead. But many artists have challenged this trend and are sticking to making music nonetheless.
True that the journey of an independent artist is not easy when resorting to Bollywood playback is not an option. However, many bands have survived the existential crisis and are taking their music to audiences who really appreciate their music.
Such artists rely on various sources to sustain themselves. Members of the band Soul’d Out, told The Hindu, that they work as music teachers, Friday night performers at hotel clubs and do shows to sustain themselves individually and be able to continue the band. “The band is our priority, there’s nothing else to top it for any of us. This is where our hearts lay”, said Sajal Sharma, of Soul’d Out. Whereas members of the band The Urban EarlyMen who are all set for the release of their debut album early next year said, “We are using money from our gigs to fund our album”.
Risshie Sachdev of Syncopation, a modern Jazz/Funk band which has been in existence for five years said, “When we started, most bands were either into rock or electro genres but we stuck to our original sound. And as it turned out, the audiences were very receptive as people had been looking for a Jazz band. Slowly we got a regular audience which would follow us at our Friday night performances”. Most members of Syncopation have studied music and the band has released an album titled “Tune in”. They are currently planning an all-India tour.
Many artists prefer not to go to commercial record labels to aid their album recording because they want to keep their music as free from influence as possible, and not lose its essence. While some go for home recording, others start their own record labels. Delhi-based band MindFlew started its own record label, Ghar ka record to record its album. The label later recorded three additional albums for other artists. “We didn’t have the money to record an album, but we had experience with recording software and our music was ready so we decided to start our own label”, said Jayant Prashar, former band member and an independent musician.
Despite using social media for self-promotion, today many platforms have come up in the form of music festivals and websites for such artists which focus on taking their music to a wider audience. Independent artist Siddharth Chopra based out of Pune who has been producing music for the past five years uses the online media Soundcloud to put up his music and the social media site Facebook to promote it. His band A Mutual Question’s album was home recorded, and promoted by NH7.in.
NH7.in is a website which publishes the indie-music scenario around the country including artists and music festivals. A Mutual Question performed at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune this year. Soul’d Out, The Urban EarlyMen and Syncopation performed at the Celeste Music Festival in Mussourie, Uttarakhand, in its pilot event earlier this month. A sponsored and ticketed event, it was held with two motives – to provide independent musicians a platform and to spread the message for the need to revive Uttarakhand after the natural calamity.