Everything (almost!) you wanted to know
about being a Musician in India and were not afraid to ask!
A letter from Studio System reader Vijay Kumar
Patnaik got me thinking about the enormous confusion experienced by most
people wishing to enter the profession of music or any art form in India.
I meet numerous youngsters almost every day who want to make Music their
career but have just no idea what to do as there is no clear cut path
available, no job placements, no job interviews and no recognised colleges
which could guarantee employment. Hopefully some of the tips offered in
this article can help clear the fog and help in focusing these youngsters
into achieving their goals. Also this article hopes to give the Music
Business professional a better understanding of the background of musicians
and a deeper understanding of Music itself. For Music is like a religion
for all dedicated musicians.
The awakening of interest in Music happens with most
people during their teens when it begins to progress from casual listening or
dancing pleasure to a serious passion where at times one will listen to the
same songs thousands of times without getting fed up. My 11 year son Akshay
listens to songs that he loves a thousand times and nothing I do, can make him
change his mind. He knows these songs thoroughly, lyrics and music. Slight changes
in expressions, notes and variations cannot escape his attention and he notices
things in the music that no casual listener can ever hope to catch. It is this
passion that differentiates the casual from the serious and this could develop
into creating a long standing influence in his life.
The Music profession has no place for the glamour struck
as it is a lot of hard work but I can assure you that the work is great fun
for the true Music enthusiast. In fact one of the sure shot signs to know that
this line is not for you is when you get tired of the work and look for diversions.
I admit that the training can be tedious and repetitive but the results are
obvious and rewarding. However it is once you know that your interest in Music
is not cursory that the true struggle starts. Its the time when you have decided
that you want to make Music your career!
This period usually starts at the end of your teens
and during college and when you should be getting involved with anything remotely
connected with music. All religious festivals have numerous musical functions
where the kids are involved in competitions and concerts. Churches and Ganpatti
poojas have seen the start of many a world class musician! For college going
kids it is the college festivals that are now become a great starting place.
I was in a rock band during college days and did just about every college social
in South Mumbai. It is during all these functions that you come in contact with
professionals from the music field either as judges, chief guests, sound system
professionals etc. The various clubs in town are also looking for cheap entertainment
for their numerous functions and here is where the amateur musician gets a chance
to practice his craft and polish his act. And of course the perennial New Year
celebrations which sees a spurt in shows and where the demand for entertainers
goes up threefold. Yours truly got his first break at one such New Year's dance
many moons back! All these opportunities have to be availed of as it is here
that you get a chance to perform before people and it is they who are your final
judges. It is the people who decide if you are good enough for them and determine
your future. Throughout this period, every opportunity to listen to all kinds
of music should be used, as every performance you see will add to your ability
to create the magic of live performances. Also any opportunity to perform before
people should not be missed, even if they are a handful, as no amount of practice
time can substitute for performance time. In fact I would go as far as to say
that one minute of performance time is equal to one hour of practice time. The
instances of hours of practice going down the drain because you could not handle
the pressure of live performance are too numerous to count. But this does not
mean that you perform when you have not practised enough. Years of performance
can go down the drain if you are under prepared. Also it is assumed that you
are training for your particular music form with the best teacher in the field
that you can afford. During this period you will be exposed to all the various
complexities of your art and meet people who can help you in your search to
get better. Take all the opportunities offered to you with no concern for economic
gains, as this is period you will spend "investing" in yourself. Improve yourself
to be the best possible and soon people will find you good enough to be paid.
In fact the more you "invest" in yourself , the more your value will increase.
And if you are really good, you can be sure that you could earn quite well!
The combination of "as much as possible" listening, training and performing
will serve as a solid foundation for your future as a music professional, especially
when you get older and time becomes scarce as the responsibilities of adult
life overtake you.
You have finally reached a point where you are getting
paid for your musical efforts on the live front and you feel the need to move
ahead. I have always stressed the importance of live performances before recording
as only those that can pass the test of live performing can expect to be recorded.
After all, recording means the freezing of your performance for eternity and
you better be good enough for somebody to actually want to buy your performance
and take it home. Recording also means that you are heard again and again and
without any visual impact and distractions. It is here that your faults are
totally exposed and you could fall flat on your face. This is the reason why
it is always suggested that you do recordings of all your live performances.
However great the audience reaction, you will sometimes be surprised with the
"level" of your performance. Sometimes the audience may not be as discerning
as you may want it to be and applaud a mediocre performance because they were
influenced by some extraneous factors. However you will always have to be honest
with yourself and judge yourself fairly so that you are never mislead. Honest
friends are very important at this stage and watch out for "chamchas" as they
can cause havoc with your life. By now you know what your forte is. You may
want to be a Musician, Arranger, Composer etc. I look at all these options as
specialising in the way music is created.
Every category has something of the other in them. Every
musician is also a arranger and composer and vice versa, only their focus is
different and the level of competence varies.
The musician is one who aims to be an expert in any
musical instrument whether it is the voice, flute, guitar, synthesiser, tabla
etc. This search for perfection is of prime importance as the deeper you get
into your instrument, the stronger your understanding of music. Your skill at
your instrument will enhance your understanding of tone, pitch, rhythm etc.
Most composers and arrangers begin their careers as musicians. Also there is
a lot more work for musicians than arrangers and composers and hence your chances
of getting a foothold in the industry is far better. Also, if you have other
ambitions, this is a chance to network with the music industry.
As you progress in your instrument you will realise
where your forte lies. You will soon begin to realise the direction you want
your career to take. You will get an idea as to how music is organised for orchestras
and recording and maybe want to enter the world of arranging or composing. This
is a maturity issue as you will realise this only when you have spend a couple
of years as a musician. I do not recommend hurrying the process as experience
can only enhance your work as a arranger, if you decide to become one. In fact
a lot musicians do not bother to "graduate" to arranging and go straight to
composing. They become extremely proficient at their instrument and their creativity
will lead them into great heights of fame when they can afford the best arranger
to present their compositions to the world.
Some musicians will be content in remaining as musicians
as they realise that this is their forte and they are happy with it. Today,
because of the Media boom, the income potential of good musicians has shot up
to great heights. Of course this makes the choices even tougher!
The arranger is usually a very proficient musician who
has mastered his craft. By that I mean he usually knows how to play a few musical
instruments and if not, appreciates the nuances of the various musical instruments
that can adorn an orchestra. It is his decision to choose the instruments that
can be used in a composition and decide the basic framework within which these
musicians will operate. Of course everything is done in consultation with the
composer and the final authority rests with him. It is the job of the arranger
to decorate the composition in the best musical terms so that its strengths
are highlighted and weaknesses hidden or removed. In visual terms, an arranger
can best be described as a designer who dresses up his client in the best possible
way in order to impress the audience. He is the presenter! At this stage a lesson
in Music Basics seems appropriate to those music lovers who have not looked
at music analytically and dissected it into its components. Please check the
Music is broadly divided into Rhythm, Melody and Harmony.
Vocal Music has the added dimension of Lyrics. In order to understand music
you need to study these parameters carefully.
Rhythm: This is
the most basic factor in any form of music and seems to come first to most people.
They say that the heart beats rhythmically in every human being and thus every
human being is born with rhythm! I wonder sometimes when I see people clapping
totally out of beat or even tapping their feet wrong. Nevertheless, this is
the most rudimentary facet of music and all tribal music will have strong rhythmic
motifs. Also most children will first react to the beat of a song and it is
only when the child gets older that he will get into the melody of songs. Is
this why the recording companies in India release so much of dance music? Leaving
aside the frivolity, rhythm has got great qualities and can also get very complicated
! Indian rhythm has been greatly codified and has a rich tradition. So do the
African and Latino people and Rhythm is a universal language that transcends
all barriers. Rhythm is also infectious and it has a trance like quality which
lends itself to ritualistic behaviour and a simple well played rhythmic beat
can enchant the entire world.
Melody: This is
the main musical line that is played by the lead instrument or voice. It has
different pitches i.e. higher or lower. The more the notes in a melody, the
more complicated it is. I must add that this does not been that it is better!
Every melody also has a rhythm in it with which it determines how it travels
through time. They say that Melody is king in India and Indians generally like
melody based music.
Traditionally, music in India has developed along melodic
lines and we have a very sophisticated raga system which has codified the melodic
scales with its various different emphasis on notes which brings out its different
flavours. Over the centuries, Indian Musicologists have refined the melodic
system to an incredible definition that is unparalleled anywhere else in the
world. Rhythm too has been lavished with the same devotion and today Indian
Music stands on the pinnacle as far as its sophistication in Melody and Rhythm
goes. However, it has almost totally neglected an aspect of music called Harmony.
tells us that every note has its fundamental note and then the harmonics or
secondary notes. These harmonics are at far lower volume as compared to the
fundamental but they are there, whether you like it or not! Traditionally, as
Music developed in different parts of the world, the west took a turn towards
the development of harmonics in the notes and Harmony was born. Sociologically,
Music played a very important role in places where people gathered, whether
for religious reasons or festivities. Often songs were sung at such occasions.
I'm sure the composers of those days decided that it would be more interesting
if groups of people sang different notes together instead of the same melody
line. Already, stringed instruments produced harmonics and people, singing these
harmonics, would accentuate them and at the same time sound natural and aesthetic.
The church played a very major role in the development of music in the west
and the Gregorian Chants are world famous even today as one of the first known
pieces of Western music that have carried on through the centuries. Community
singing and orchestras were a common occurrence in the west and wherever more
than one person had to handle the melodic, harmony helped the music to sound
richer and pleasing. No doubt, the music requirements of those days made it
imperative that the composers of those days developed the harmonic nature of
music whereby now it has been developed into a fine art which is extremely sophisticated.
Hence orchestral music and choir singing has developed greatly in the west while
it has been totally neglected in India.
As an aside, I have always felt that other
societies develop a work culture where the need to work efficiently in
groups is taught and music is used as one of the ways to foster that kinship.
Western and other societies thus develop a greater understanding of working
with people and thus strength in numbers while in India, the lack of these
social skills leads to the "crab" effect where the individual is paramount
to the detriment of the group. Every child in the United States learns
music and leaves school playing in the school orchestra and having learnt
at least 2 musical instruments. I wish the leaders of this nation would
insist on involving children in community skills like team games, group
gymnastics, large music orchestras etc, The better we can work in groups
the stronger our nation can be! On one of my tours abroad, I visited Korea
where I attended a presidential rally in a stadium full of school children
who put up an incredible exhibition of synchronised gymnastics. All the
primary school children of the city were present in that huge stadium
and each member of that huge gathering was playing an incredibly important
role in the whole exercise. One solitary mistake would have destroyed
the entire routine and brought it crashing down like a pack of cards!
The discipline inculcated in these children and such an early age is sure
to have an enormous impact on the conduct of their lives in the later
years. We need to realise that ,at times, we are just a cog in the wheel
and have to conduct ourselves thus without loosing our individuality.
The joy experienced when a collective victory is achieved is boundless
and invigorating and is far more satisfying than any individual triumph
as we share it with so many people.
Lyrics: Vocal music
can also have the added dimension of lyrics or the text of the songs that are
sung. Lyrics can play a vital role in the appreciation of Music and its impact
on our lives. The great lyricists and poets have always used music to carry
their words to the masses and we cannot imagine the scriptures of India to be
conveyed in any other way. In fact in Folk Indian tradition, poetry is always
recited in a musical way. Music is used as a tool to enhance the impact of the
words and this technique is used by artistes all over the world. India has a
strong musical drama tradition in various parts of our country where music serves
as an excellent technique to impact the audience. I have always believed that
to the Indian, the words of a song play as important a role in the appreciation
of a song as the tune. Yet lyricists in India are paid poorly as compared to
their musician colleagues.
One aspect of music training which is truly invaluable
is the study of Music Notation. The Western system is extremely sophisticated
and all encompassing and although "feel" is something that cannot be quantified
and varies within individuals, the system has greatly served the Western Music
tradition and ensured the preservation of its heritage. There were no sound
recordings in the old days and yet today we can listen to works of the great
classical composers of the west almost without any distortion. In India, we
had the traditional aural method where compositions were handed down the generations
through students etc. The guru shishya relationship was special and something
generic to Indian Music and served greatly to pass the genius of yesteryear
down the ages. Unfortunately, distortions, if any, will never discovered! It
was only the great work undertaken by Dr Bhatkhande in the early part of the
20th century which has served to archive the enormous musical treasures of the
past. The good doctor devised his own method of notation which although not
as sophisticated as the Western system, was good enough to be in use even today
with minor changes. I greatly recommend the study of any form of music notation
to music students as it makes music very precise, concrete and easier to understand.
This is a great help for the understanding of something which is so abstract
and subjective. It is also a great communication tool and I am sure Western
Notation has developed far more than the Indian variety as there is greater
need to communicate to large groups of musicians. After all the 100 piece orchestras
is a unique western concept! Indian Music is individualistic in approach and
interaction takes place only within a few musicians i.e. the singer or main
instrumentalist, the tabla or any other rhythm instrument and the Tanpura etc.
Indian Film Music has however seen the rise of the Orchestra and all the Film
Arrangers have always been masters at Western Notation.
After having glorified the advantages Music Notation,
I would also like to add that there are numerous successful practising musicians
who have never learnt notation and have no intention of doing so. This somehow
seems to suggest to a lot of aspiring musicians that there is no need to study
Notation! There could be nothing more misleading than this. This is a matter
of perception and how you see yourself within the Musician fraternity. All successful
musicians at some stage of their career, feel the need to study notation but
could be in a position to hire the services of a trained assistant! Also, all
the computer sequencing software today have notation transcription capability
and all your midi information can be converted to notation and printed out for
distribution. The computer has reduced the tedium from many professions and
Music is no exception! However, I would still urge aspiring musicians to learn
this art of music notation, especially at an early stage of their career, as
the advantages far outweigh the tedium. I would also like to state that it is
not as difficult as it appears initially. You can take my word for it as I finally
managed to learn notation after I had given up many times before!
We now come to the pinnacle of the Musician profession.
The creator of the work of music. Usually, composing is a mature activity that
is reached when a certain level of proficiency in musicianship is achieved.
The Composer determines all the parameters of the musical work and is responsible
for its musical impact. It would be his job to decide the melody, harmony and
rhythm of his composition and call in experts in each department to enhance
its musical impact. Composers will have to decide the singers and the main musicians
so his composition can get justice. A lot of people want to know if Composition
can be taught. The answer is both yes and no! Composition involves the total
use of technical ability in musicianship which needs to be learnt, especially
certain aspects that concern the composer. E.g. re-harmonising a composition
can take the original composition into different directions. It could make the
melody line darker or happier! In India, the use of different Ragas for the
same melody line can change the melody line beyond recognition. Changes of rhythm
have been known to change the musical impact of a composition drastically. Technical
exercises like these can greatly enrich the Composer's musical life and lead
him into territories never explored. The composer has to constantly find new
ways to excite him musically and exposure to different musical genres is an
excellent training. There are numerous university courses in Western countries
that offer composition credits and these courses can definitely enrich the life
of a potential composer and help him through the process of self discovery.
However there is no substitute for raw talent and no college can make a good
composer out of a bad one. The great composers of the West and East are indeed
God's favoured children!
There is no rule that says that Composers have to have
grey hair or have to graduate from being a musician or arranger. Talent is a
God given gift and we human beings have no say in its distribution. We can only
cultivate whatever talent we have been fortunate to have been allotted and use
our intelligence to realise our potential. It is our training and attitude that
will come handy and help us reach our goals.
The Different Roles of the Professional Musician in
The work opportunities for the professional musician
in India are manifold and vary greatly with the different kinds of music and
languages involved. Also there is the live work and then the recording kind.
Briefly they can be divided in the following manner:
The Indian Classical concert is quite active in the
"season" which is the winter months and there are numerous festivals held all
over the country. Also all year round, small concerts are held in the metros
and sometimes in the homes of the rich gentry who are known to patronise this
art form. In the old days, this art was kept alive by the Maharajas of those
days as it is definitely not the music for the masses. The industrialist of
today has replaced the royalty and it continues to flourish both in India and
abroad. The west has been greatly enamoured by the mystic of Indian Music along
with all the other traditional Indian spiritual arts like yoga etc. The World
Music scene has also seen a renewed interest in Indian Music and we witness
numerous collaborations between Western and Indian Classical Artistes. There
is tremendous opportunity for the adventurous but also a lot of hard work! Also,
like almost every artistic activity in India, there is a lot of work for the
few who are on the top! The rest have to share a minuscule amount of work which
really makes their life difficult. Unfortunately it is as important to be in
fashion as to be talented and this is true of even this pure art form. And the
Indian herd mentality makes things worse whereby there are very few opportunities
for new artistes and thus exploitation and frustration. Organisations like SPIC-Macay
are working hard to bring Indian Classical Music to the masses and this has
greatly helped the plight of these budding virtuosos whose talent would otherwise
have been left unexposed.
All major recording companies have recorded the major
stars of the Indian Classical Music extensively and although not large sellers
by a long shot, they lend a "respectability" to the catalogue and will continue
to sell for decades if you are lucky enough to get an inspired performance.
The Western Classical Music Scene on the other hand
is almost non existent! The persistent efforts of the Parsi and Christian community
have resulted in presenting to the world some of the greatest Western Classical
musicians in the world. The often quoted example of Zubin Mehta is an excellent
choice of the brilliance of Indian talent in this area. We also have the recent
example of , the young violin maestro Robert Gupta who has astounded the music
critics of the west. However the audience in India is pathetic and no Western
Classical musician can hope to earn a decent living practising his art. However
his talents did find an outlet surprisingly in the Hindi Film Music scene. The
huge orchestras of Laxmikant Pyarelal and R. D. Burman were full of violin and
brass players trained in the Western Classical mould and fortunately their talents
could be used to make music, although of a different kind! The great music teachers
who taught at the Trinity and Royal College of Music courses in the metros of
our country have truly played an exemplary role in the development of Western
Classical Music in this country. Their selfless dedication and tireless hard
work have given us some great musicians who have succeeded in giving us so much
joy. The armed forces too have been responsible for the development of this
dying art in India, especially in the brass sections. Traditionally, we seem
to having the weakest brass players due to lack of demand for their services
and the Armed Forces have tried to reverse this with their own Music Training
college in Madhya Pradesh where they train musicians in martial music. As is
apparent, Brass is an important musical instrument there!. The lack of good
musical instruments has also created a problem for aspiring musicians in this
field. All in all it is not a calkwalk to succeed in these 'unusual' musical
instruments. The training however in popular instruments as piano and guitar
is plentiful and of good quality. This is of course true because of their use
in all genres of popular music which makes it both lucrative and glamorous.
All in all, the lack of an organised training institution in Indian and Western
music is sourly felt as the music talent in this country is outstanding and
we are just waiting in the wings to capture our place on the stages of the world.
I had heard that Yamaha is interested in starting their music training division
in India but have received no corporate support from like minded companies.
Truly a well planned music training program of this nature would be a boon to
the people of this country and I hope somebody picks up this challenge soon!
As the name goes, this is the most popular form of music
in the world and includes just every type of music that exists and their combinations!
In India the most popular music is Hindi Film Music and this accounts for 90%
of the professional music talent in this country. The live scene of Hindi orchestras
is indeed one of the busiest that I have ever seen. I had a bass player once
who at times used to do four shows in a day! The whole country loves this music
and there is lot of work for the good musician in concerts, restaurants, dandiya
shows, weddings, award functions, college functions, club shows, private mehfils
etc. Its also a great way to see the world as the expatriate Indian loves Hindi
films and the music and besides the numerous "star" shows held all over the
world, there are a lot of small shows held in centres all over the world. Indeed
there are very few places where the Indians haven't reached yet! Besides the
USA and Great Britain, the West Indies, Surinam, Netherlands, Spain, Fiji Islands(
I think we can discount that out for a few years!), South Africa, Australia,
New Zealand. Israel, the Middle East are popular concert centres.
The Hindi recording scene is also very active. The film
song and background recordings account for some of the finest Indian musician
talent in the country while the version and the remix market give steady employment
to the others. The Indipop market has picked up over the last few years and
the Ghazal and the Qawali scene does see a few albums out every year.
The regional Non Film sector is also booming with many
superstars to their credit. The Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati and the
South Indian languages are particularly active with many hits being scored over
the years. Unfortunately the English Music scene has all but disappeared in
India. In the sixties, the effect of the rock music invasion in the west was
felt in India with the birth of so many rock musicians here. Biddu was one such
known Indian personality who ruled the roost during his short reign in Bombay
city. I can never forget his shows in Shanmukananda Hall and Bhulabhai Auditorium.
Truly a turning point in my life! The seventies did see a spurt of interest
in this music but being limited in market size all the rock/pop musicians started
turning towards advertising and Hindi pop music, yours truly being no exception.
Today, lot of active musicians in the Indipop scene are musicians who have had
their roots in the English scene in India. Some of the names that come to mind
are Euphoria Leslie Lewis, Loy Mendonsa, Ehsaan Noorani, etc, Even A.R. Rahman
and Sandeep Chowta of the mainstream Hindi Film scene have had their beginnings
in Rock bands which explains their fresh and unconventional approach.
Spiritualism is deep-rooted in the psyche of the Indian
mind and Indian Devotional Music is one of the most steady selling repertoire
of record companies in India. Bhajan and prayer meetings are held every day
in India and the demand for musicians specialising in devotional music is constant.
Also the latest best sellers include titles like "The Gayatri Mantra", "Ganesh"
etc. and every recording company have their own version. One musician told me
recently that he has at least 4-5 dates in a month where he provides the background
music for such recordings. Every language in India have their own devotional
superstar who commands a huge following at his concerts and sells in large quantities.
Folk artistes have always been held in awe by the people
who are impressed with the earthy quality and energy of their music. Folk music
is after all the music "of the people, by the people and for the people". Bhangra
Pop is an excellent example of a folk form getting wide acceptance but the unadulterated
variety also has huge local fan followings. This is true of all languages in
India and we have a very rich and varied folk tradition and where like the language,
the music too changes as you travel. The variety is truly mind boggling as we
traverse the nation , from the Mizo tribes in the east to the Rajasthani Nomads
in the west, from the Kashmiris in the North to the sounds of Carnatic Temple
Music in the south.
The media boom has opened enormous opportunities for
creative people in the country and TV has become one of most important employers
of musicians today. From talk shows, talent shows, antakshari, special live
concerts to title and background music for serials and game shows, the amount
of work generated is enormous and there is great demand for good, quick talent
who is willing to work on a low budget and at odd times. This medium has truly
become a boon for medium grade musicians who can polish their talent with the
sheer amount of work they have to do. The work is constant and regular but it
can overwhelm you with its demands as the deadline is paramount. All night long
recordings are common and this can take a toll on your health and family life.
But the rewards are plain to see and sacrifices have to be made for a steady
growth in income and skills.
Music for Advertising is an area for musicians which
can be very rewarding if you can enter it. Advertising demands high quality
work and if you can cut it the pay is fantastic! This has become the home of
many musicians from the English scene as their "sophistication" comes useful
to the needs of the promotion of the product to be advertised. Advertising demands
variety, sophistication, versatility, finesse and panache and is not as easy
as it sounds. It's far more difficult to make an impact in 30 secs than 3 mins.
Ask any creative person! The attention to detail is tremendous and this is definitely
not the place for Indians who still believe in the "Chalta Hai" philosophy.
Jingles, Audio Visuals (AVs), product launches and corporate films are some
of the avenues for music in Advertising.
The dot com revolution has finally hit India and as
the sites multiply so will the demand for the musicians. Portals in India have
already started commissioning musicians to record songs for them to be downloaded.
Also devotional sites demand religious music and children sites need nursery
rhythms! The market is still to pick up in India but the demand can only rise
as the PC penetration in the country advances.
All in all, it is a great time to be a musician in India
at the present moment. The demand is on the up and it can only get better. The
competition is enormous but there is no stopping the hardworking talented musician
who is constantly in search of excellence. All he needs is bit of luck and he
is on his way! It is indeed a wonder for me to see the sea change in the status
of the musician in India where after being considered a good for nothing vagabond
for so many years, he is being perceived to be an honourable professional who
can command a hefty pay packet and also be a worthy son in law!
Complementary Careers in the Music Industry
Historically, Music has always had an incredible appeal
to people but only a few people have the talent and the staying power to make
it as a profession. Sometimes, a temporary success can mislead you into feeling
that you have found your calling and misguide you. It is an extremely competitive
world out there and it can get quite frustrating. But there is no need to loose
heart as there are numerous related professions out here that can use your passion
for music to advantage. After all, you may have certain mundane concerns like
a need to earn a living!
For those with a flair for writing, song writing is
a great art that involves close proximity to the music world and is ,in the
west, one of the highest paying too. The royalty earnings of a successful songwriter
can run into millions of dollars. India however suffers greatly in this area
as piracy is a major drain on this income stream. Tax evasion by the record
companies also leads to reduced legitimate sales thus robbing the artistes from
justified earnings. This leads to the payment of arbitrary lump sum fees to
song writers which vary greatly on the "market value" of the lyricist. Also
the herd mentality leads to only a few people getting the majority of the work
independent of the intrinsic worth of other individuals. However for an aspiring
song writer there is no choice but to persist, for success may be just round
Both the Studio and Live Music events need Sound Engineers
who can reach music to the public's ears in the best sounding manner. Live engineering
involves the use of mixers, mikes, speakers, hall acoustics, set lists etc.
and incredible presence of mind as there are no retakes. It is an exciting and
demanding profession as you have the power to make or break the performances
of the artistes on stage. You need to have a keen sense of music along with
technical skills and it can become highly rewarding too. The Studio Engineers,
on the other hand have to have all the qualities of the live engineers along
with a sense of detail and perfection. The recordings that pass through his
hands will be heard and reheard a million times by millions of people all over
the world and he better get it right. In his hands lies the future of many great
musicians and the responsibility of capturing that magic moment. Sound Engineering
is a great profession for Music lovers who possess technical qualities. The
pay is very good and the opportunities for growth for the true professional
Music Critic and Journalist:
Your love for music and proximity to musicians etc.
means that you have far more knowledge of music than the lay man. Coupled with
writing skills, you could be a great music critic where you would get to evaluate
the latest releases from the recording companies. You could end up with a huge
cassette collection and I hope some of them are worthy of you! The music journalist
would get to meet the greatest musicians around and discover the secrets of
Event Management has finally taken off in this country
and there is a great requirement of personnel who are proficient with the mechanics
of show business. Your artistic desires make you competent to understand fellow
artistes better than anybody else and guarantee satisfaction all around. Also
your experience as a musician is excellent training for event managers. You
also need to have a host of other attributes including good management and public
relations skills. Both Artistes and Clients can be very difficult to deal with.
Record Company executives:
The Artistes and Repertoire Department of a Record Company
is a great place for those of you music lovers who also need to have the security
of a corporate structure. It is the job of the A&R dept. to find artistes with
potential from the big bad world out there and realise their commercial worth.
They have to find the right songs for the right singers, the best lyric writers
for the music composer, the best combination of music producer/composer and
studio and numerous decisions of this nature that can very often influence the
success of a project. They also have to come up with gimmicky commercial ideas
that the market needs from time to time which can get rather unmusical but the
bottom line is paramount in any business. They need to have the musical pulse
of the nation or the world in their hands so that they have the best musical
ideas with them and predict the music tastes of the masses in the future so
that they can invest in artistes who will bloom in the future. The prime motive
of any good A&R Manager should be to develop good repertoire that covers the
entire market segment. From the juggie dwellers to the high rises and bungalows
and from children to senior citizens. This job calls for a person who is comfortable
with both artistes and corporate types. The right chemistry between the artiste
and the A&R dept. can very often determine the fate of an album. It is no accident
that successful artistes have sometimes married their Music Company managers!
Mariah Carey and Celine Dion are prime examples.
Unfortunately in India, this dept. has been given the
short end of the stick by the management of Record Companies and thus the companies
just serve as CD/Cassette manufacturers and a Music marketing and distribution
agency and have no say in the shaping of the musical destiny of the nation.
Very few companies have competent A&R Managers who can appreciate artistes and
explore their talent effectively. The music scene in India is dominated by the
film industry and the music content is determined by producer, director, music
composer and stars of the film and the record company has no say in this activity
unless they do exercise this by sheer money power. The high price of music rights
of a film have forced big record companies to produce their own films and it
is no accident that successful films have been produced by those record companies
with strong A&R considerations and thus have the pulse of the nation in their
hands. It is this creativity that differentiates a true music company from another
as the other functions of a record company are almost the same as any other
consumer company. It is indeed a sad plight for the artistes of this nation
who sometimes have to deal with a music company executive with the sensitivity
of a grave digger.
TV and Radio presenters:
The media boom has resulted in the rise of TV and radio
channels which increase the demand for music lovers who also have presenting
skills. The DJs and VJs are very popular with the audience and have become stars
in their own right and thus become very powerful. There could be no better profession
for the true music listener. Radio demands a person who is quick with words
, intelligent and witty while a touch of glamour could go a long way in the
Club DJs :
The discotheque and pub culture has invaded the metros
of the nation and music is the prime driving force in these establishments.
A Club Disc Jockey can be a very rewarding and satisfying career for a music
lover with creativity who is not necessarily a musician. The turntable and CD
players become the musical instruments of these magicians who can cast a spell
on any audience and have them enthralled for hours.
Music/ TV Channels:
The craze for music and the rise of the music business
has seen the advent of many dedicated Music TV channels in India. All of them
need executives who have the pulse of the nation in their hands and who can
be better than a true music lover!
Music means different things to different people. For
most, it serves as a mood alleviator and helps us to feel good. For others it
could be an intellectual exercise and for still others a nostalgic trip down
memory lane. But for some, it becomes the most important thing in their life.
Important enough to make it the centre of their life. Very few of us are fortunate
to be born in artistic families and hence we have to create our own opportunities
to grow. There is no godfather to help us through. In any case, all that can
done by "star" parents is help their children get opportunities. After that,
like all of us, their fate depends on the people. Also, as it has often been
said success in this line is very much a case of being "at the right place,
at the right time". Luck does play an enormous role in this industry but a lot
of hard work never hurt anybody. Remember that everybody glorifies those "lucky"
moments as it makes great entertainment but nobody mentions the tough parts.
The years of struggle that famous names of today have had to undergo is legendary
and there are no shortcuts to your goal. Your success can only be achieved through
determination and patience. Till recently, only the children, relatives and
friends of musicians had the knowledge and wherewithal to enter this profession.
The path to a musical career was an unknown area which seemed to have been reinforced
by the insecurities of the artistes. I hope these articles will serve in removing
some of these obstacles. And lastly, as a piece of advice from a musician who
has been around for the last 25 years, for God's sake, please keep dreaming.
All the best!