Making of a rockstar

For many artistes, singers and composers, platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud played a huge role in their journey to success.

Behind the heady fame and popularity of a rockstar is a journey that’s rough, difficult and often tests one’s mettle. There’s the dream, hope, goal, talent and determination. And there’s also the insecurity, rejection, struggle, despair and defeats. This World Music Day, we look at ‘behind the scenes’ of independent bands and artistes — the road they walked and how they climbed the ladder of success.

All thanks to social media
For many artistes, singers and composers, platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud played a huge role in their journey to success. Creating music and uploading it without any cost on their respective social media handles helped their music get a wider reach.

“Today with apps like Saavn, Wynk, Gaana and YouTube, one has to practically pay no money to share their music. We have the entire world’s music catalogue in our phones. And the best part is that your music is at the same place as everyone else’s music,” says Ramit Mehra of the Delhi band The Local Train.

The band, whose song Aaoge Tum Kabhi was featured in Pan Nalin’s film Angry Indian Goddesses, proudly calls itself a “people’s band”. “In the beginning, all we did was put up our music on the platform MySpace, and shared it on our Facebook pages. The biggest advantage of this was that our music was accessible to people in all parts of the world. For all independent musicians, the biggest struggle is to simply have a dedicated audience. Social media has helped a lot in this case,” adds Ramit.

For singer Jonita Gandhi, YouTube has been instrumental in her growth as a performer and artist. “I have been an avid YouTuber since 2011 and this helped me get discovered in Bollywood. A.R. Rahman discovered me through YouTube and now I am recording for him and travelling the world with him for his shows,” says The Breakup Song singer.

Akasa SinghAkasa Singh

A networking-based industry
Apart from social media, many artistes struggle to merely spread the word about themselves and their music in the industry. Raghav Dang from the band Reggae Rajahs agrees that it all begins with social media for beginners, but independent artistes also have to work on engaging with other international bands and building a community of indie artistes. “What worked for Reggae Rajahs particularly was that we tried to reach out to other international artistes to come to perform in India. It helped in building a community, which also facilitated cultural exchange. When you help a band to perform in India, they would in turn help you perform in their country. That’s how your name spreads and that’s how you help each other,” says Raghav.

Ramit MehraRamit Mehra

Collaborations always help
Internationally acclaimed singer and composer Karsh Kale believes that “the experience of collaboration, even simply as an exercise, helps musicians grow in ways that no solo practice can alone.”

Agrees singer Akasa Singh, who is famous for her song Kheech Meri Photo. She says that she had to give numerous small performances in order to gain even a little prominence as a solo artiste. “Initially, I had to do a lot of college gigs in order to be heard and have some audience. I then collaborated with a band and worked with them so that people who would come to listen to them could also get a chance to listen to me,” says Akasa.

Jonita, who is Indo-Canadian, says that she owes much of her success to her collaboration with American composer Aakash Gandhi. “When I first moved to India, my biggest trouble was getting used to living in a different country. Nobody knew who I was when I moved to India until they started seeing my covers. So I think I owe my success to my collaborations with Aakash Gandhi and my YouTube presence overall,” she says.

For young aspiring artistes
These music biggies share a couple of suggestions for aspiring musicians of the country. “Be determined and very patient about the results. It’s a long journey. Don’t let other people influence your attention,” says Raghav.

The Local Train’s Ramit points out the increasing number of covers and mashups of already existing songs these days and says, “There’s very less focus on creating original content today and that is not very healthy for aspiring artistes. One should focus on making their own music. As long as you’re having fun in doing that, everything else is going to be fun as well.”

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