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The indie rises again

Independent music in India is growing leaps and bounds, thanks to a recently-launched channel and digital platforms that support indie musicians. Now, it seems is the right time for bands to do what they do best make music, finds

The independent music scene in India is growing in leaps and bounds. There is a new channel dedicated to creating and showcasing content by independent musicians, music festivals mushrooming all over the country, ensuring that small bands get as much footage as the popular ones and digital platforms lending their support to artistes who want to upload their music videos.

With channels and digital platforms offering support, music lovers are becoming aware of bands such as (below) Shaa’ir and Func and Bombay Bassment in addition to the popular (left) Indian Ocean, Parikrama and Pentagram
With channels and digital platforms offering support, music lovers are becoming aware of bands such as (below) Shaa’ir and Func and Bombay Bassment in addition to the popular (left) Indian Ocean, Parikrama and Pentagram

A couple of years ago, indie bands such as Indian Ocean, Pentagram, Indus Creed, Bhayanak Maut, Thermal and a Quarter and Parikrama were among some of the bands that music lovers would follow.

Monica Dogra from the band Shaa’ir and Func
Monica Dogra from the band Shaa’ir and Func

But now, even the average Joe with limited knowledge of music would know of bands such as Shaa’ir and Func, Bombay Bassment, Spud in the Box, Paradigm Shift and others.

Spud in the Box is one of the emerging indie bands in India
Spud in the Box is one of the emerging indie bands in India

Ask Ankur Tewari, programming head of Pepsi MTV Indies, that launched in February this year and he remarks, “I feel indie music has always been around. It’s just that the mood of the nation and the sub-continent is reflecting in the socio political scenario. It’s time for change, not only in music, but even in movies and comedy.

The band Indian Ocean launched their latest album Tandanu with a weekly episode on its making on Pepsi MTV Indies
The band Indian Ocean launched their latest album Tandanu with a weekly episode on its making on Pepsi MTV Indies

Things that have been brimming under the surface are now spreading in all directions.” The launch of the channel dedicated solely to promoting indie music and culture is proof of the fact that there is a demand for a platform of this kind. Technology, too, has played its part. “Technology has provided a big boost to the music industry,” says Tewari.

Thirteen years ago, when he recorded a demo for his album, the musician hired a studio for the recording. But with the kind of technology available now, Tewari says that young musicians can easily record at home. “The wave of change combined with technology and with art forms becoming more democratic, everything’s fallen in place beautifully,” he adds.

Technology and the digital era has ensured that the voice and the talent of the musicians go beyond the country. And that’s one of the reasons Rajshri Music, too, has revived their label on their digital entertainment network. And they are promoting non-film music. Rajjat A Barjatya, MD & CEO, Rajshri Entertainment, however, does not like the tag ‘indie’.

“Music is music,” he says categorically. Explaining the thought behind promoting genres such as devotional, kids, contemporary folk and English, Barjatya explains that the era of earning revenue through physical sale of cassettes and CDs is behind us. “Our approach, firstly, is to look at the non-physical market and grow that significantly in terms of money.

Secondly, when you have digital platforms that reach out to every single viewer in the world, why not make music that reaches out to the global audience? So the moment I do music in English or present indie music in a way that’s palletable to the global audience, I’m able to produce music that’s relevant to everyone,” he adds.

With channels as well as digital platforms out in full strength to be the carriers of good music, it seems to be a conducive time for bands to do what they do best — make music. Agrees Rohan Rajadhyaksha, vocalist with Spud in the Box, although he has his doubts about the scale of the movement.

“Indie music is still a scene. It’s a bigger scene than what it was three years ago but it’s not an industry yet,” says the musician. The scene might have got bigger marginally, but hey, every bit counts, right?

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