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  Entertainment   Music  02 Jul 2018  Independent music gains global freedom

Independent music gains global freedom

Published : Jul 2, 2018, 12:20 am IST
Updated : Jul 2, 2018, 12:20 am IST

The likes of Rock Machine, Agnee, Brahma, 13AD, Sugarfoot, among others, deserve credit for the genesis of independent sounds in India.

Ditto Music was started by Lee Parsons
 Ditto Music was started by Lee Parsons

Independent – or indie – music has always existed but, it was with the onset of the digital space, that it has finally become the flavour of the decade.

Further validation, if required, is that this indie content has since begun making inroads into Bollywood soundtracks, where there is no more a single music director necessarily responsible for the soundtrack, but several. However, the genesis of independent sounds actually occurred well before the digital invasion. For instance, while Indian rock concerts during the ’80s [onward] had the bulk of their repertoire consisting of “covers” of popular hits from the West, the irony of it was that those very musicians made every effort in composing their own songs even while the audience, at that moment, was reluctant to hear anything that appeared unfamiliar to them i.e. original compositions. But the likes of Rock Machine, Agnee, Brahma, 13AD, Sugarfoot, and KrossWindz, among others, deserve credit for taking the initiative of pursuing originals from that era itself.  

But with the advent of the digital revolution at the turn of the century, independent music has been taken to another plateau, one that enables the launch of content without the artiste signing onto a record label. Much credit for building digital platforms to showcase independent music goes to the likes of, and, among others.

Similarly, Mumbai’s retro venue, Door No.1, has begun providing an amazing platform for independent musicians to showcase their talent where budding musicians are permitted to bring instruments along with them and sing with the outlet’s house band. Dubbed as the very obvious “Jam Sessions”, these events occur on Sunday evenings with musician Blake D’Silva, who was previously signed onto Sony Music, hosting the first edition of the Sunday jam fest at Door No.1 expectedly playing, among various songs, originals!

Meanwhile, the independent musical movement has been receiving its own set of listening ears from a global perspective too, with Ditto Music, a Birmingham-based music distribution and record label services company, now looking forward to promoting Indian independent artistes globally.

“Artistes are moving away from major labels towards [their] independence,” says co-founder and CEO Lee Parsons, “because companies like Ditto Music provide them better terms and more revenue.” Using the same policy across the world, Lee has, since Ditto Music’s genesis 12 years ago, set up over 20 offices across Europe, Australia, and North and Latin America, and his focus – along with that of Ditto Music co-founder and brother Matt’s – is now South Asia. With India as its headquarters, Ditto Music commenced operations in Mumbai in October 2017 with industry stalwart Gautam Sarkar being roped in to helm the business.

In a very strategic manner, Gautam has decided to have Ditto Music stay away from Bollywood music for the moment, leading the Indian initiative to a more focused approach in the regional market business and in overseas distribution of Indian content. The company has concluded major label deals for content distribution outside India, including managing Indian publishing businesses with Ditto Music’s superior knowledge and better understanding of artiste mindsets and their requirements through Matt and Lee’s experience as independent artistes themselves. Ditto Music’s global roster – over 150,000 artistes – has expectedly begun to overflow, as people are looking at being associated with Ditto Music as a platform through which they can share their music to the large diaspora globally through high quality streaming audio, and by supporting easy and transparent monetisation of copyrights. Indian languages focused on include Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, Rajasthani, and Bhojpuri, with a combined catalogue strength of 300,000 audio tracks and music videos.

Ditto Music currently works with the next generation of rising artistes and, in 2018, has already released Top 40 albums and singles for artistes such as Dodie, Dave, AJ Tracey, Yxng Bane, and several more. “We are thinking of running a search for artistes in India too,” announces Lee proudly, “so that we can pick such artistes and push them globally.” Although ripe for a takeover from the majors and venture capitalists, Lee is certain that he would like Ditto Music to remain independent, which is precisely the vision with which brother Matt and Lee commenced operations.

If Lee Parsons has signed on or discovered artistes such as Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran in the past, it appears only a matter of time before Ditto Music helps Indian artistes diversify from being just local musicians into global music superstars.

The writer has been part of media and entertainment business for over 23 years. He continues to pursue his hobby and earns an income out of it.

Tags: music, independent music