The Unevenly Distributed Economy Of Film Music Industry

By Shivang Sood
August 27, 2017
The Unevenly Distributed Economy Of Film Music Industry

We all have our flaws, and so does our B-Town music industry!

All the top music directors are in their 40s (some even above) now. The already rich, are only getting richer while the others continue to struggle to even enter the industry. The Indian music industry has a long way to go, we need to promote growth and constantly change! 

Behind every successful Bollywood album, there’s a list of people involved, people who write the songs, people who play the instruments, who provide background vocals and most importantly the people who put everything together to form a cohesive piece of music. The music directors, who come up with the tunes, bring life to an artist’s voice, these songs are their brainchild. A lot of effort goes into the production and post production, these tasks are not simple and require a lot of precision. The process needs to be learned and to familiarise yourself with the entire process takes time. You have to know the game, the equipment, the software and all the other subtleties involved in the process of music making.

A Definitive Sound: The Sounds that Define an Era!

Music has always helped in defining various eras. When we listen to Kishore da’s voice, it instantly takes us back to the 60’s or whenever we hear a song by Kumar Sanu or Udit Narayan we’re reminded of the 90’s. Music has this tendency to evoke emotion and help us romanticize a time, helps us feel the emotions of that era, how people thought, what love felt like back then. Songs are timeless and the sound of music in Bollywood has been ever changing.

Today we have some great music directors in our country, the globally renowned AR Rahman, the hit machine Pritam, the incredibly diverse music duo Vishal-Shekhar, The soulful Salim-Sulaiman. They’ve been in the industry for a long time, their sound has resonated in the industry for decades. The younger generation grew up listening to them and has always felt a connection with their sound, again they have defined our time.

Food For Thought: They’re All in their 40s & Above!

Do you see the connection between these people, they’re all above 40! While they all are exceptionally talented, and incredible music composers and directors. Unknowingly, all the business of music is repetitively going to them. They are always the preferred choices of every film director, they are always the ones chosen for every music direction project. It’s a cycle, the same set of people. And this is encouraging the Bollywood Music business to be divided between the rich and famous only getting richer, and the new comers only struggling even after 5 or more years of being in the scene. Let alone the thought of new people coming in.

We continue to have Vishal-Shekhar giving their beats since 1999 until today, they are still on top preference for music direction, production. AR Rahman started in 1992, and continues to be one of the top, most respected, trusted and highly celebrated music composers, director. Shankar-Ehsan-Loy started in the 2000s, and until today have been producing incredible music content for films.  These are only to name a few, but I’m hoping you understand the point I am trying to make.

I mean, instead of reaching a point where we are stuck midst “Plagiarism” accusations, we'd rather work on bringing newer artists in, and experiment with time, technology as well as new sounds. I'm guessing you know what I'm trying to say! Right?  

“It's time the senior music directors impart their knowledge to the new comers, promote newer music directors, launch newer artists, and make an attempt to evenly distribute the music business in Bollywood.”

The music industry is one place where is necessary to constantly innovate. If we have the same set of people doing the same thing or producing similar sounds over and over, audiences would eventually get bored of it and move on. Every generation needs a voice, a sound to resonate with and I believe the sound that we’re getting to hear is getting old fast. The ‘fresh new songs’ coming out have a similar sound structure to what we were getting 8 or 9 years back. We see minimal changes in the way we produce our songs. I'm sure you know why! 

Read our latest article on the "Big Bollywood Epidemic" talking about repetitive music, and formula replication for the perfect "Super Hit Song" 

The Demand of Fresh Sound & An Unbiased Music Economy

There are a handful of music directors in Bollywood, and that's a problem. While producing high quality, successful sounds, it is essential to be aware of the demand. We have to be at pace with the Global Music Industry standards and ensure innovation. To make this happen, we have to continue to bringing newer artists in! 

While we have come very far from what we used to produce say, a decade ago, there is still a lot of catching up that needs to be done!  We don't see any of the newer techniques being used in our “film music” because it would ideally come from the newer set of people, which is missing in Bollywood. While the younger generation is at pace with whats happening globally and could add a lot of value if amalgamated with the experience of the existing key music directors. 

Even in terms of the background scores of our films, we’ve been using the same template sounds for a very long time, it’s the definition of basic. The background score makes all the difference in films, it makes you feel the intensity, or it makes you cry or makes your heart race during an action sequence, a film no matter how beautifully it's shot seems dull without an appropriate background score. The problem is really not lack of creativity in our existing music directors, rather the problem here is them being overloaded with projects which are likely to leave them with no breathing, or creative space. There is a demand for an increase in quality and quantity which will contribute to diversifying the canvas of music in our film business.

The experienced music directors need to promote the young talent, collaborate, learn together and try to be more supportive of creating an ecosystem promoting sustainable growth. And to name a few, we really appreciate AR Rahman and Vishal & Shekhar to contributing towards this movement. We noted many newer artists being launched by them and supported by them. 

The life cycle of formula being used to create hit music should be shortened, constantly be changed like a breathing format. The budding talent needs a chance and an opportunity to showcase what they have to offer in terms of creation and experimentation. We need more people like Amit Trivedi, Amaal Malik, Ram Sampath, Ankit Tiwari and other young directors to lead our industry into a new direction and to keep giving us new sounds along with the older guys who absolutely are irreplaceable.

The need of the hour is not really only bringing the new guys, rather having the industry collectively stepping down and understanding the point. It's important to have a good mixture, a roster including all age-groups, new and old styles, genres, techniques etc. The experienced and new, both need to come together, grow together. Film directors need to broaden their thoughts and understand the value of experimentation. Understand the extremely biased music economy within the film industry. 

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