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The changing face of a musician in a digital world - Influencers or Brands

By Soumini Sridhara Paul, Vice-President, Artist Aloud, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

In the late 90s, India saw a big explosion in the music space with the rise of what was called at that time as - Indipop. While Bollywood that had already been around for almost 90 years was continuing to boom on 35mm or 70mm and through the sales of cassettes, there were music channels that launched in India that needed content to build viewership. There began a beautiful marriage between record labels and television. Record labels did their job as A&R, sourcing out talent and honing them while music television channels did their job amplifying the content and making superstars out of these talent.

However, as happens in every marriage, in the early 2000s, there came an outsider to create a rift and that came in the form of Bollywood. With 60-90 sec song clips looking larger than life, the indipop music videos could not stand its ground in comparison. And slowly and gradually, music television channels stopped catering to record labels and instead started defining what would get played and what not.

This was the beginning of the end for the indipop scene. Record labels stopped funding artists and the artists in turn had to figure out their own methods of putting out their music. This also led to several record labels having to shut shop and close business.

But while that ended the indipop scene through the record labels, there was something brewing locally in different parts of the country. Bands like Parikrama, Indian Ocean, Thermal and a Quarter, etc. were doing something that was new. They were building a fan base on their own through live concerts, merchandising and even selling CDs at their gigs. The role of a record label was becoming less and less important.

All was going good for almost a decade where artists were taking control of their music and the way their fans could consume it. However, the next evolution was around the corner and that came in the form of digital that led to piracy. While there was a lot of piracy through various internet websites, independent artists were using this free consumption to their benefit by letting their fans consume their content for free and then hear the same songs in their concerts which is where the artists were actually making some money.

Today, the playing field has changed drastically and independent artists are everywhere expressing their music in their own style and language. And while there are a huge number of artists that are doing their own original music, there is also a new format, thanks to all the social media platforms, where these artists are growing their own fan base and revenue doing covers and content in their own style.

The time has come for artists to now look at themselves as startups and multiple avenues of monetising themselves. Live gigs, community building, merchandising, content monetisation, etc. are just a few of the different models that artists can work towards.

Soumini Sridhara Paul is Vice President of the Talent and Independent content platform, Aloud, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. Launched in January 2010, Soumini has spearheaded the set up of Artist Aloud, South Asia’s premier digital platform for established and new talent with audio and video content along with a dedicated team.

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