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Features |  12 Jul 2007 00:45 |  By RnMTeam

Pop goes the talent hunt


Television channels keep hunting for pop idols, when all they are throwing up are playback singers.

I f the current crop of music talent hunts on TV wasn?‹?“t enough, two more television channels, with very little to do with music, are planning to launch their own versions soon.

Sahara Filmy?‹?“s Bathroom Singer will attempt to draw out the gifted closet singer into the spotlight and Aastha?‹?“s Swar Adhiraj will get the spiritually inclined with a yen for music to compete for the coveted title.

Talent obviously isn?‹?“t in short supply these days, and television appears to be doing a good job of playing recruiting agent. But are the music labels, the platforms that will finally help push the voices on a bigger canvas, tuned in?

According to Universal?‹?“s assistant vice president Sunil D?‹?“Sa, We, as a music label, are here to take the talent forward and are always ready to guide those singers who are career oriented. So we do keep an eye on such shows, but mostly only on the top five or so.

Times Music?‹?“s assistant vice president, A & R, Rajeeta Hemwani, is more forthright. We do keep a tab on whats happening on such shows but since so many of them are happening simultaneously now, it becomes quite difficult to monitor them all.

So, brief burst of fame apart, what happens to the scores of brilliant singers thrown up by TV? If they are not cutting ribbons at minor launches in B cities, they are doing stage shows in mini metros and struggling to cut that album that will bring in that elusive fame.

The best of the lot, inevitably, turn playback singers. Kunal Ganjawala, Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan... the list goes on.

Despite shows like Channel [V]?‹?“s Popstars and Sony?‹?“s Indian Idol, the country obviously hasn?‹?“t been able to create a music icon, thanks to its unique music culture that does not seem to breed pop stars.

Is the supply of talent then, outstripping demand in the Indian music industry?

Says Hemwani, I dont think the newbies have a huge market. The singers get diluted when so many talent hunt shows happen at the same time. Also, because of the hype created, checking out the true potential of the performers gets a little questionable. In addition, in almost all the shows, decisions are taken through public voting which can be quite a mistake as the public may vote for a particular contestant on emotional or regional grounds.

?‹?“There is no playback singing anywhere except in India. So singers have no option but to turn to playback?‹?“







Says singer Shaan, who has been regularly anchoring the talent hunts on TV, Popularity gained at such shows helps out more for budding singers. We shouldnt mix popularity with success. Look at Abhijeet Sawant. He won, became famous overnight, but he became so busy doing live shows and performances that he had no time to meet composers and sing more songs. Usually, popularity and success go hand in hand, but in case of TV show winners, its different.

But Sawant himself begs to differ. "I think such reality shows always take the singers one level above from where they started, but it is the loss of those who cannot use the advantage properly. Music talent hunt shows are a great platform for unknown singers trying to make it big in the music industry.

Pop music equals Bollywood music

But can an artiste, however good, survive on non film music in India, a country where Bollywood music defines pop music? Says DSa, I agree that 90 per cent of the music market is Bollywood, but then, music in India is all about Bollywood. In terms of album sales, non-film music can be successful but it needs to be packaged well.

In the absence of aggressive marketing and promotions of albums cut by the winners of the shows, most ?‹?“pop stars?‹?“ look at playback singing as a lucrative option. India had its share of popstars but ultimately they are now playback singers. Look at Shaan, Sonu Nigam ¦ they all started with pop singing. However, for Universal Music, our strength is pop and we are leaving no stone unturned to release lots of pop singers, asserts D?‹?“Sa.

Shaan agrees. There is no playback singing anywhere except in India. So singers have no option but to turn to playback. Playback singers have a market, but there are absolutely no returns if you want to make it as a pop singer. That?‹?“s why Indian music is largely dominated by singers wanting to sing for actors than to get an album for themselves.

?‹?“In the future, the music labels will need such new talent, especially the smaller labels?‹?“

Also, the novelty of the talent hunt winners seems to be wearing off fast. Abhijeet Sawant may have become a household name when he bagged the crown, but the second Idol did not create a ripple. Reasons Sawant, The first ones from every contest have an edge over the next season winners. The first ones are always lucky.

And while D?‹?“Sa argues that we cannot compare the global scenario of pop stars emerging from talent hunts due to the differences in music culture, Sawant also makes a compelling point. "In India, singers can very rarely compose and sing, hence playback is the only best option available to them.

Shaan also adds a note of caution, TV shows dont promise to make you famous. They just have a contract deal and its all over after that. Such shows are merely about passion for singing."

Hemwani concurs.The Indian Idols were able to sell only as long as the show was on. The moment, some other talent hunt came up, the Indian Idols lost their market. Still, the Indian music scene for reputed artistes and bands has never looked as good as it looks now. The music industry today is facing a lot of competition especially with Reliance stepping in and the Yash Raj Music getting really active and serious with pop singers. In order to keep up the music labels image, they rope in big artistes. It is really a very good time for the established names to make money now through albums. In fact, I see a lot of albums in the future.

Reasons Sawant, In the future, the music labels will need such new talent, especially the smaller labels, because of the amount the present big singers demand.

Till then, the talent hunt winners are keeping their fingers crossed.