Kerala

World Music Day sans music

There was no answer to the repeated calls. Neither was there a call back. So playback singer V. Devanand sounded a bit irritated when he could finally speak to the man late in the night.

Devanand had been trying to contact him all day. He wanted to transfer some money to him on behalf of SAMAM, the association of playback singers. The singer with a small music troupe told him why he didn’t answer the phone.

“I had been out all day, along with my wife, trying to catch fish on a country boat,” he said. “If we don’t sell fish, we will starve.”

Like him, his wife, also a singer, too used to make a decent living from music before COVID-19 arrived last year. If that was bad enough, a year on, things have become worse for singers and others in the industry.

So on this World Music Day (June 21), singers have only sad tunes to sing.

“There is hardly any recording and no live music shows, the bread-and-butter for just about any singer today,” says Devanand. “I occasionally get to sing for a video on YouTube, and that’s it.”

Shows abroad

Like Devanand, Akhila Anand too used to be pretty active on the live-show circuit. “I used to perform in shows regularly abroad too in the pre-COVID days,” she says. “Cinema has long ceased to be the main source of income for the singers. We have become virtually jobless, except for the few who appear in television shows. Since I am not the only earning member of the family, I could survive, but that is not the case with most others.”

So many of them are forced to seek fresh avenues. K.K. Nishad has begun teaching online. “I can’t take too many students, as I cannot afford to strain my voice,” he says. “In these tough times, the income from teaching is a huge relief.”

It is not just singers who are affected. Composers, who also conduct stage shows, have also been badly hit, along with musicians, technicians, and others like those who provide sound.

“I used to compose background for six or seven movies a year, but I haven’t had a single release this year,” says Thej Mervin. “I also conduct stage shows of all kinds, including those by major singers like Shankar Mahadevan.”

For the music industry, a happy tune seems to be some distance away still.


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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 3:14:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/world-music-day-sans-music/article34873770.ece

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