RadioandMusic
| 21 May 2019
Change is the only constant: Soumini Sridhara Paul

Artist Aloud associate VP Soumini Sridhara Paul shares her view on the changes in the industry and the road map for indie artists:-

Much has changed in the music industry over the last decade. Many labels, which had set the standards for decades have closed down, others sold off and many have merged. Digitalization, globalization of economies, ease in creating music of every genre and collaborations across verticals have brought about the unimaginable transformations in the industry.

The ‘new world order’ notwithstanding, the basic objective of the industry remains the same- finding talent, promoting it and monetizing their music.

Much of the work- from scouting to promotion and monetization- was done by labels, now considered by many to be on their way to becoming relics. Now, there are many specialized entities that look into a single aspect of the music business.

Launched by Hungama.com, one of India’s first digital music provider and pioneer in independent artist promotion, ArtistAloud.com- is thick in the middle of the country’s music industry- offering independent music across multiple genres beyond Bollywood, scouting talent and finding platforms for them.

The task at hand for indie artists in India is to get more mainstream exposure and acceptance. Many already have niche audience who follow their music live and on the internet but do not yet contribute to creating the critical mass that would enable bands to go full-time or maximize their potential.

“Many indie acts do play complex music that becomes their musical statement, but the problem is not so much of ‘inaccessible’ music for the masses; many of them play pop material. The lack of channels to package and promote artists is the main stumbling block that prevents indie music to get mainstream acceptance. Unlike Bollywood music that gets heavy airplay on radio and television, indie acts don’t have a proper platform. It is important to think about how you give out music. Content creators have to think of it.”

While the space for buying digital content (music) is growing there is a need for players to create a habit among people to buy, legally download or stream music to make indie music a viable and financially sustainable genre.

ArtistAloud has always been about independent content. To encourage music from all genres, ArtistAloud imposes very few restrictions on artists regarding material, mainly- bad quality of recording and explicit lyrics.

And this democratization of the industry and flattening of playing field has brought about a deep change in the industry.

“A major change that has come about is the role played by the Artist & Repertoire (A &R) person. Earlier, in India, talent scouts based their finds on demos but that has given way to signing them based on their live shows.”

A reason for this change is the fact that today bands can get ample traction by uploading their music on the internet and playing live- a vertical that bypasses the A&R altogether and is increasingly popular in the music landscape. The fact that one can play live also proves their musical skill and abilities- a perquisite for any self respecting act and an asset if one is aiming for longevity in the industry.

Although many platforms are available today record labels are not yet giving up the vital A&R responsibility to independent entities.

On the whole, labels who have survived the digital purge of the mid 200s will continue to be relevant in the industry. Most have adapted themselves to changes adding digital platforms and entering into tie ups and partnerships to maximize revenue streams instead of depending on just physical sales. Their immense experience in their DNA of music industry is also an asset they can bank on.

“We cannot go back to the age of vinyl, but cannot also break down the foundation. You build on that with your creativity. Like (parent company) Hungama.com has expanded from offering music for download to streaming service. I don’t think digital platforms will replace labels and it never will.”