interview Music

Armaan Malik talks ‘You’ and why musicians must be more business-minded

A still of musician Armaan Malik and actor Emma Declerq in Malik's music video 'You', shot in Paris

A still of musician Armaan Malik and actor Emma Declerq in Malik's music video 'You', shot in Paris

Ten years ago, if someone told a 16-year-old Armaan Malik that in 2021, he would be filming a music video in Paris that would cross 15 million views in less than two months, what would his reaction be? At this, the now-26-year-old hitmaker chuckles, and opts to stay grateful about his career so far.

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While on a call from Dubai, Armaan can sense new vistas in his music career, marked by his latest single ‘You’; the song’s music video was filmed in the City Of Love – checking off Armaan’s bucket list – and the overall atmosphere of the song is more introspective, unlike his usual uptempo and dance-friendly vibe.

“I wanted to offer something different when I started music for an English number,” he says, “so for ‘You’, I could channel my need to do a love ballad.” The song, using largely guitar, empowers a new range of his vocals: softer, huskier and more calming.

Armaan had received the demo for the track from long-time collaborator and LA-based musician Natania Lalwani and producer Jack Edwards. The team built the song through virtual sessions but it worked well. “The song is a concoction of what we were all feeling about ‘first love’, and we wanted it to feel like a page out of everyone’s life-book,” he recalls. “In the past few weeks that it has been out, I’ve seen the response. But obviously, there is still a lifetime for the song to do what it sets out to, which is bringing people together.”

When Armaan Malik was in Paris for the Paris Fashion Week in October 2021, he and his team seized the opportunity to film for ‘You’. “It was a no-brainer,” he recalls, “and the fall aesthetics of the video added to the intimate song as well.”

A still of musician Armaan Malik and actor Emma Declerq in Malik's music video 'You', shot in Paris

A still of musician Armaan Malik and actor Emma Declerq in Malik's music video 'You', shot in Paris

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While melody and lyrics are a priority for Armaan, he is also keen on leveraging the right technology. Gone are the times of passive listening; people want to fully engage with all layers of a track. “Whenever I’m in the studio, apart from my usual job of singing, I’m also part of the music-making which comprises the arrangement, during which we make enhancements such as reverbs and delays we incorporate during production,” he explains. “For ‘You’, Apple Music’s Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos translate these nuances so that fans can immerse themselves in a song.”

He expresses similar sentiments in a recent interview with Apple Music Radio’s Brooke Reese, where he was the first Indian musician to feature on the show that reaches more than 100 countries.

The biz side

The past two and a half years have been tough on musicians and Armaan empathises with those who have not been able to reap the rewards of a live music scene.

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Despite a fair amount of success over the past few years owing to Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo ’s ‘Butta Bomma’ that went viral and his dubbing work for the Hindi version of Guy Ritchie’s 2019 live-acton film ‘Aladdin’ , he admits that his mental health took a hit. “For a long time, I was feeling very low, not knowing when I’d be able to put a song or video out and whether I would be able to play it live. And it is a chain reaction: I have a band that depends on me for my shows; if I’m not playing a show, they’re not getting paid for it.”

But he explains that adaption is the key to moving forward, “This is our livelihood and though we feel good while doing it, we all have bills to pay. So many musicians depend on live gigs and studio shows and they have been forced to move to a new medium. Those who have found a way to make it profitable have benefitted but that’s not everyone. But the only way to cope with this is to realise that life is headed towards a digital age.”

Into the future

Now with more Indian musicians like Ritviz and Daler Mehndi moving into the metaverse space with virtual concerts and NFTs, Armaan – who admits he is not well-versed about these emerging technologies – shares he may have to learn how it all works simply because that is where the world is heading.

Alongside the complexities of tech, Armaan believes emerging and veteran musicians should know how to navigate the contentious music streaming industry. “Getting the art right is first,” he states, “and the second is educating yourself with the business side of this industry. Having worked with both labels and independently, I would suggest all musicians own their music; even if you make a dollar or two, that is yours – and this is empowering. Many have not been able to do this because when you grow in your career, you need this support from labels and others in the industry… and now we are seeing more musicians break that rule, by creating something on their own from scratch.”

He adds, “Many do not understand the revenue model of streaming sites and other ways to make money from their songs. There are so many ways to access this information. A few years ago, many Indian musicians could not reach international audiences without streaming services [like Gaana, Apple Music or Spotify]. While there are many explainers on YouTube and such on this topic, I do wish there were more portals in India, educating people about how to monetise their original music.”

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 9:08:11 pm |