One of the most exciting panels I had the opportunity to observe was the one on Independent Music: When Will Passion Make Profit? Moderated by Amit Gurbaxani (Founder-Editor, The Daily Pao), the panel included Raman Negi (Singer-Songwriter, The Local Train), Chaitanya Kataria (Artist Manager, Only Much Louder), Anu Anna George (Artist Manager, Mixtape), Abhi Meer (Head of Content, Boxout.fm) and Vijay Basrur (Founder, OK Listen!).
The panel discussed in detail about the growing independent music scene in India and a common dilemma omnipresent in our industry – When can an artist just be an artist?
It was inspiring to watch Raman Negi, who has been composing music for the last 7-8 years talk about his journey so far. He spoke about how the band had finished their debut album in 2013 and decided to sit on it for almost three years because they couldn’t find a label that believed in their music. He also mentioned how important it was for them to learn how to package their music to present it to the audience in the best light possible.
Their first music video helped them pave their road to success. A simple DIY video with the help of their friends and interns gathered over a million views on YouTube (a platform he swears by). Followed up by the release of their album in 2015, and another two albums and nine singles they are doing well for themselves. Performing over 127 shows since April’16 with 70 concerts taking place in the last nine months – they are a source of inspiration for any aspiring musician in India.
He emphasized the importance of performing live and making sure to visit as many cities as possible irrespective of the attendance. Making sure that the production is not compromised so they can provide a great experience because their audience is their PR machine – word of mouth is much more potent than any other marketing gimmick!
Followed by Chaitanya Kataria, an artist manager at Only Much Louder – steered towards the growing culture of Hip-Hop in India and how Brand partnerships have helped the genre grow a nice foothold in the country. With DIVINE spitting rhymes about his life and focusing on releasing good content regularly, his trajectory of success has been peaking indefinitely. From performing 30 shows in 2013-16 to 50 appearances in 2017 alone has helped him become the focal point for brands such as PUMA that relates themselves to his content organically. Chaitanya’s emphasis was on brand relationships and how content cannot be forced at any given point.
Anu Anna George from Mixtape spoke about how a lot of artists in India are living two lives at the same time. She talked about the importance of taking music seriously as a career and understanding how an Artist can capitalize on different aspects of music to make a living. She mentioned how many artists have already left their other jobs to concentrate on music full-time like Skyharbour that has been churning out great content and has been focusing on building their fan-base and justifying their ticket sales, and eventually making sure that whatever money is earned is reinvested in their work to churn out even better content for the consumers.
Adding to this Abhi Meer, The Head of Content at Boxout.fm spoke about the importance of Radio, and it’s personal connection with its audience in India. Providing a platform online for independent musicians to showcase their music curation they have now amassed 70 shows on Boxout.fm with over 65 hosts with genres ranging from Electronic music to Old Classical Bollywood music or Eclectic, worldly music, all to broaden people’s perspective about music. He spoke about the absence of a proper, functional PRO in India and how Indian artists should get their fair share from the revenue generated.
Vijay Basrur, the founder of OK Listen, chimed in with the statistical increase in music streaming in India and how it has helped artists gain a decent revenue from their releases over platforms such as Apple Music, Saavn and Google Play Music. With the help of human curation and algorithms, the consumers are susceptible to discovering new music and find these independent artists.
To summarize the entire panel, it emphasized on the importance of creating great content, garnering brand relationships that share the same ethos and focusing on your music from recording it in the studio to performing it live. To stay passionate and faithful to your art.