In the year 2023, a remarkable trend was seen in the music industry as more and more music artists started adopting the independent space. While some of them were already working independently to some extent, their quest for independence increased significantly this year. To gain insight into this growing change, we spoke to several singers and musicians to understand the reasons behind their decision and explore the factors driving this movement.
Why are more artists going independent?
For Jubin Nautiyal, a renowned playback singer popular for songs like Ratan Lambiyan and Manike, it’s time to take charge. “The person putting in the money is in charge. So I didn’t want to be bound by someone else telling me what to do and how to do it. This is the only way I can get out of the chaos,” says the singer, who released his album Tum Aaye Ho Toh independently.
He further adds, “Over the last 3-4 years, I have composed songs for many films and labels, it was the need of the hour for me to work on a song that was fresh and which I could release on my channel. This was also needed because in the world of Bollywood, if I am called to sing a song, all the hard work is already done and I just come there, do my work and go; And all the credit is given to me. So I felt I was missing a lot of action.
Musician Jigar explains how the free space allows the artist to “experiment without any burden.” “That’s why they’re doing new things and pushing it forward. So independent music plays a great role in developing the entire music landscape and today more and more artists, including me, are willing to do the same,” he says.
For Salim Merchant, the advantage of independent music is that it has no ties to music companies or labels or filmmakers. “You don’t need any instructions and you don’t need any approval. But while working on films, you have to keep many things in mind and work accordingly,” shares Merchant, who has focused more on independent music than film music this year. But he points to another factor due to which musicians, especially, are moving away from taking up film projects. “A lot of musicians don’t like having a lot of people working on the same project. When it comes to me and Suleman, we like to do all the songs from a film. So if a producer comes to me saying that he has multiple composers for a film, I will back off,” he tells us.
conflict and resolution
But taking responsibility for everything from music production to marketing to releasing the music without any outside help is not an easy task. Arjun Kanungo, who collaborated with Japanese artistes for his album Industry 2 this year, says, “Initially, the biggest challenge for me was manpower. When I became freelance, I learned that teams of people work on marketing music at music labels. But now, we’re building those teams with passionate people. Marketing is incredibly laborious when you’re first starting out, but we plan to step up and help the artists we work with.
Jigar explains that according to him the biggest hurdle is budget and management. “When an artist works without a label, the biggest concern is budget. Second, because a label knows how the algorithms work, they have a strategy, and a team that takes care of promotion. An artist may get knowledge about it but technical knowledge is a different game altogether. An independent artist always has less power when it comes to releasing and popularizing a song,” he explains.
Sachin, the other half of the Sachin-Jigar duo, says it is important to sort out finances and find another source of income. “In our case, Jigar and I have established ourselves as Bollywood composers, but for every budding independent artist, I say that you have to find a source for money, which is through shows, music as an artiste. Could be teaching, online streaming or anything. It is necessary to have that stable source of income. Having that one backup is very important. It helps you dream, create your content and take it forward,” says Sachin, who has focused on promoting regional music independently this year.
Despite the unpredictability and the costs and logistics involved, singer Darshan Raval expresses hope for “changing times”. He adds, “Earlier it was difficult because people used to invest a lot of money on music videos and the returns were not as much as one expected. Recovery was a task. But now times are changing. People are more interested in audio.” Giving the example of his own song Mahiye Jinnah Sohna, he says, “It was released this year with just a lyrical video and yet it did very well.”
Rawal says, in his journey there have been songs on which a huge amount of money was spent in making and marketing them and they did not work well, and then there have also been songs on which no money was spent and they became hits. Went. “So now it has been proved that money does not make a song a hit. If this had happened then Bollywood would have been on top. But today, you see 90 percent of independent songs topping the charts.”
Need independent music?
But no matter how difficult the road may be, musicians believe that independent music helps revolutionize the industry. “Independent music is bringing new artists from the smallest parts of India and breaking monopolies. Imagine that there are only 10 active musicians in a country of 144 crore people. So statistics like this change because of independent music. This space is helping everyone understand that the power is in the hands of the creators and not in the hands of someone who will exploit it.” Citing the example of artists like Pratik Kuhad, Sachin says, “We saw That the shackles of Bollywood can be broken. That’s what independent music is doing. It’s taking the music industry under control and it’s setting up the right kind of competition, with music competing with music.