| 07 Oct 2022
Indie labels take web route to success

MUMBAI: If anybody is being innovative in the current rapidly-evolving music scenario, it's the indie labels.

While physical sales have hit a low, the internet is increasingly being used as a medium by the gen-next musicians, producers and managers to spread the word around. The upside - it's relatively cheap, easy, and catching up among independent musicians.

One of the first bands to start a countdown of sorts on their official website was Motherjane. This Bangalore based band webcast their entire album titled 'Maktub' last year and received quite a few accolades for their innovative concept. The idea came from one of my very good friends based in Delhi. We were really kicked about the idea, but after a lot of brainstorming, realised it takes tremendous effort to pull this off - it's not easy,... says MotherJane frontman Suraj Mani.

Nevertheless, their efforts got recognised when close to 30,000 viewers tuned-in on their official website to watch the webcast. Apart from fans, Indian bands like Pentagram and Themclones too dived in for an online discussion with band and fans. Perhaps, one of the most innovative features of their webcast was the customised payment options where a user could pay whatever they want' or 'pay later'. Remember Radiohead's innovative marketing ploy in 2007?

While most bands are content with releasing albums on the web, dance music group Jalebee Cartel went a step ahead with streaming an entire live performance which was a part of promoting their album Onepointnothing. We're all technology geeks and we love incorporating that not only in our music, but with almost everything we do. I guess that's probably the reason we've also released our music on USB/pen drives. So I'd attribute the web streaming to a similar school of thought,... said Jalebee Cartel. The band collectively got around 3000 people from all over the world log on to when their performance was webcast on the website.

In the right sockets

Speaking of the technological requirements needed for webcasting, Web18 Channel Head Online Music and Video ( Zeus Unwalla says, Live streaming is fairly simple when it comes to getting the stream ready, all you need is a camera for capture, two solid audio lines preferably coming in from the sound desk, and software that captures the stream, an internet line is essential. This is the simple section; it's the broadcasting that is the difficult part....

Mother Jane vocalist Suraj Mani agrees to challenges when it comes to broadcasting, Fortunately, we knew some people from TV channels down south who had good know-how about webcasting – that made our work easier but after spending sleepless nights working on that entire project, now I am confident of offering consultancy on webcasting to anyone,... he laughs.

Unlike Jalebee Cartel who webcast the entire performance which went on for close to five hours live from Blue Frog, Mother Jane only released their album on the net. The band did not consider live performance streaming since they were not sure about the sound, Mani explains, Webcasting the music live is a bit difficult. First, it's important that one has a good bandwidth – the other issue is that you can't really mix the sound like one does on ground events. Since webcasting offers very ordinary sound quality, we did not think of webcasting the performance....

Even sound being an issue, the Jalebee Cartel performance was watched by many across the globe. OML founder Vijay Nair says, Even a listener in U.S can watch the performance if its a webcast." Though the webcasting  trend is catching on among bands as its a relatively cheap alternative, Nair says it shouldn't be made too common, Webcasting should be done only for special gigs which everybody would love to be part of - it certainly shouldn't be done too often... 

Clicking their way to cash?

Speaking of the costs and revenue streams webcasting includes,  Unwalla who helped Cartel with their album launch webcast opines, If done in a systematic and correct manner, we will be able to generate revenue through it. The concept is still in a very nascent stage in India, but we are changing that as we speak....

Though generating revenue streams through websites is still at a nascent stage in the country, the exercise does work for both bands/musicians and the website. People who cannot afford to go to a concert will probably log in to and watch it live from the comfort of his/her home it's almost like building a community online. We get higher page views, more advertising, and more discovery of music,... Unawalla explains 

The music industry is also discovering the benefits of the net for deciding the best of the heap. Last month saw the indie rock scene gung-ho with the AVIMA awards which were the first of its kind awards to be webcast. The format was simple, yet appealing. 30 per cent of the songs were selected via online voting and 70 per cent of the other scores were decided by global judges from Europe, Australia and the US.

The award ceremony had audiences from more than 30 countries logged on from all over Asia, Europe, Australia and USA, clearly indicating the interest that was generated by the platform. The show was beamed â€?live' via a studio from an undisclosed location and viewers from all over the world were able to watch the show via two live-stream sites courtesy  Pop Teevee and CGYnet from the website.

"Let's be real"

OML founder Vijay Nair says, Let's be real. Its not that a million listeners will visit you every time but one great advantage of the online medium is that a fan gets all the information once he's there on the page – it's a more potent form of medium....

OML is presently working on a similar module with Delhi based Themclones. Of the 17 tracks the band has composed, only 12 will make it to the CD. Initially, all 17 tracks will be streamed on social networking websites like facebook, myspace and the bands official website. Twelve tracks will be selected, depending on the listeners' vote across the various websites 

Experts from the music industry believe that the transition to the Internet requires a big initial investment. The digital medium calls for investments on the server and formatting the data. But once it takes off, the revenue is good.