How To Become An Independent Musician In India?

To become an independent musician in India might sound something brand new to most of you. But what about we tell you, in the era of 90’s Musicians like Lucky Ali & Sonu Nigam totally rocked the entire independent scenes with their cassette releases. Later, from 2004, Independent music dimmed down and Hindi Music Industry got totally dependant on Hindi Cinema or Bollywood.

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Now, in the era of YouTube independent music scene is again rejuvenated with loads of talented independent musicians. To name a few: Darshan Raval, Jubin Nautiyal, Badshah, Raftaar, Gajendra Verma, Neha Kakkar, and so many more.

How all these artists became what they are now? What does it take to become an independent musician in India? We will tell you all.

Who Is An Independent Musician?

Before we get deeper into the article, one must clear out the conception of an ‘Independent’ musician or Indie artist. Who are they? What does an Indie artist mean?

It means an artist who has not signed any contract with a music label. An independent musician can still depend on other artists to make the music but not to release them. They can release it on their own YouTube channel. They can release it on a label, without signing a contract with the label.

Today, Badshah and Raftaar are the pioneers of the hip-hop and pop culture in India. Raftaar is into hardcore hip-hop whereas Badshah has songs which are more of a pop song, but both work fine. Today Raftaar is signed by Zee Music Company and Badshah is signed by Sony Music India. These are the humongous labels of India. But how come they are still independent artists? They both have their own channel where they can put music without anybody’s opinion or supervision.

They can just release it, make money from it, or do whatever they feel like. That is why artists who are signed by labels have also remembered their roots, and still kept a leg on the ground of Independent Music Scene.

Another Independent musician is Gajendra Verma. Whatever he makes goes straight up on his own channel. Sanam is also one of the best examples of an independent group of musicians. They all can make music, perform them on stage, release them on all major streaming platforms, make a living out of it, and still not be signed by any labels.

Why Independent Musicians Are Privileged?

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Previously, an independent artist had to go through a lot of struggle and difficulty to get the exposure and establishment. In fact, people have a thought that being a musician means either get signed by a label or you are screwed for life. This is not the scenario now, especially when India has regained the non-film music culture, and it can be called the golden era for Independent music.

To answer why Indie musicians are so privileged, we will go through several points.

1. No Long Term Contract :

The best part about Indie Artists is they do not sign any long term contract with a label. This means, if a singer sings for T-Series today, tomorrow he can sing for Sony Music, a day later he can sing for Desi Music Factory, and no one will stop him.

 Previously, long term contracts used to retain artists with the labels, and they couldn’t work with anybody else but the people who label decides for them to work with. It stops the inner growth of an artist, which is not at all the case here.

2. Collaborations :

The best way for a struggling musician to thrive in the industry is to collaborate with other musicians. No contract with label means you can collab with any of your favorite artists, whoever you want to work with.

If you get a chance to work with someone, you are free to work with him. There is no holding back that your label won’t allow it.

3. Get The Maximum Of Your Earnings :

If you are signed by a label, then your label will take a good percentage of your earnings. Be it from the stage shows you get, concerts, song revenues from streaming and distributions, television revenues –  all the revenues need to be shared with the label.

Whereas if you are an independent artist, you can keep all your stage show earnings and maximum of your online streaming earnings. Of course, the distributor will retain some percentage which is totally cool. Although if you get a show through an event manager, then he gets his cut too. But you get the maximum of your earnings with you.

4. Excel :

As an Independent artist, you can excel way better. Firstly you will not have the cushion of a label, which means you need to work harder than usual. Secondly, you get to meet so many people from the field who will guide you, or at least you can guide yourself from the experiences. You can excel much better. To become an Independent musician in India is challenging, but if you believe in your music then remember even Arijit Singh was eliminated from Fame Gurukul. And we all know where he is now.

What’s The Good News For Being An Independent Artist?

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Well, there is some extremely good news for Independent Artists in today’s time. Firstly, they get to work with anyone they like. Secondly, music labels are changing the contracts and terms which is extremely Indie-friendly. Labels like Desi Music Factory, Indie Music Label, Ampliify Times, Desi Melodies and so many more are labels that focus on Independent music.

It is great news for Independent musicians. Also, if your content is nice, you get a chance to get viral and reach millions of people with your music. There are streaming platforms like JioSaavn, Spotify India, Wynk, iTunes, Google Play Music to put your songs on independently. We will discuss it later in this article.

Moreover, it’s a great time for independent musicians to make their fortune. Probably the best time ever in the independent music scene.

How To Become An Independent Musician In India?

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To become an independent musician in India, you will need a couple of quality in you before anything else. Firstly, you need to learn how to take failure and use the energy in making yourself better. Secondly, you must have some uniqueness to stand from the crowd. Thirdly, patience. It is the most important. One must enjoy the journey, it is the journey that teaches you so much.

Provided you know music, you can either sing, compose, direct, play instruments, lyricist or can do everything all by yourself, here are few tips to remember when you want to become an independent musician in India. Same for all the Indie bands.

1. YouTube & Peripherals :

Open your YouTube channel. This is the first and foremost thing an Independent musician should do. You can be a singer or instrument player, open your own YouTube channel. If it’s a new channel, it will require time to enable monetization. But that’s not the focus. The focus is to reach people, make other people listen to your music.

If a large number of people start liking your music, your subscribers will grow and you will gain popularity. Soon, with that popularity, you can get stage shows and concerts. Also one must market their YouTube channel well. Whenever a new song releases, post them on Instagram feed, stories, run an ad on Instagram as YouTube ads are costlier. Facebook is also a great tool to promote your songs.

*Where to focus:

  • Original music: Original music is the only way to reach people’s hearts. People are frustrated with Remixes and recreations, and not everyone is Amaal Mallik who recreates music in a proper soothing way, which sounds nice. We understand that the cover song does well and it gets you the initial recognition you need. So it’s nothing like do not do cover songs at all, in fact, in the beginning, it starts with cover songs, but your original music should not dim away. Try to strike the right balance between cover songs and original music.
  • Music videos: Focus on nice & decent music videos. You don’t need to put out a high budget on a video but do it nicely. It should be watchable. If nothing, grab someone’s iPhone for a while and shoot the video, the main thing is the concept and direction.
  • It should sound nice: Whatever music you make, it should sound nice. It can be chill-hop, it can be pop, it can also be commercial but it should sound nice. There should be a perfect balance of the lyrics-composition-singing of the song.

Related Post: Top Music Streaming Services Apps In India In 2019

2. Distribution Of Your Music :

You don’t need a label to distribute your music. There are so many third party distributors available who can distribute your music at a minimum cost.

DistroKid is one of them. Then there is Tunecore. Just Google the names and you will find more of such distribution networks who can put your music to JioSaavn, Wynk, iTunes, Google Play Music, Spotify India and so much more. Streaming can take you places just after YouTube.  There are many websites available that distributes your music at a minimum cost of less than $20 for an entire year.

Distribute your music to multiple channels, they are assets.

3. Copyright :

Get your songs copyrighted before you send them to any labels or any director. Without copyright, they won’t even work with you, as they will have the risk of litigation issues. Also, your work can be theft and without copyright, you can’t do much. So copyright is important.

4. Get Stage Shows :

Getting stage shows should be your first and primary focus while struggling as an independent musician. You need to focus on getting local stage shows by contacting local event management houses or event managers. Soon, you can contact talent management companies to get some stage shows and concerts. Start small, it will eventually grow big if people like your music.

5. Meet People :

Always try to meet people from your industry. Meet music directors, event managers, artist managers, meet film directors too for independent films. The more you will meet people and talk to them, there are more chances for you to grow and get new opportunities.

Who Is The Inspiration?

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To become an independent musician in India you will need inspiration, and India has plenty. Who to start with? The legendary Lucky Ali? Or Sonu Nigam? Sonu Nigam is known for maintaining his integrity and infamous fights with labels. If you look at new age Independent Artists, there is Darshan Raval, Sukriti Kakkar, Jubin Nautiyal, Prateek Kuhad, Sanam, Nucleya, Parvaaz, The Local Train, Maati Baani, Ankur Tewari, Armaan & Amaal Mallik- the list is huge.

If Jubin Nautiyal can be rejected by Sonu Nigam in a singing show and later conquer the world with his voice, so can you. What are you waiting for?

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