So like every other day, there I was in the Muziclub staff room chatting with some musician friends when this topic came up. What is the biggest challenge faced by an Indian independent band?
Depending on what phase your band is in, your challenges may range from fighting with your neighbours about the loud music from your bedroom turned jam room, to work ethics and professionalism.
Here are top 5 according to my experience:
1. Band members not serious enough
Whether you work as a unit or have a band called "The <insert your name> project" , you always go through a phase where you feel everyone is not giving their 100% to the band. From arriving late for rehearsals to no creative inputs to ego issues, everyone experiences it.
The core reason for this is – Priority. If the band isn't your priority, you are not going to be able to give it your 100% even if you want to. Coz something else will always come before the band. This causes constant conflict which either results in the band splitting up or a line-up change.
2. No manager/No gigs
Gigs. That is where you get your money from. That is what gives you strength to go on. That is where all the optimism lies. You may be a good band, your music might be kick-ass, but it will take you only so far. You need someone who is constantly pushing you into the market and getting you shows.
You can try and do it on your own. But it becomes a head-ache after a while. You have to constantly be in touch with people, follow up, negotiate, make sure everything is going right AND rehearse with the band AND play the show. Tough it is. Bottom-line: If you want to grow, you should not be doing everything on your own.
Gear, jam room, travel, production, recording, mixing, mastering, promotion… and the list goes on. There are a thousand things a musician needs to pay for.
While some find it easy, with parents/family members supporting their passion, most musicians aren't that lucky. Music in India is still not regarded as a serious profession and it is hard to find anyone who is ready to invest in an upcoming solo artist/band.
4. No PR/Networking
Contacts boss! They matter. You can't be holed up in your bedroom writing great music and expect people to find you. Being out there, getting noticed and being able to sell yourself is an art all bands should develop, or outsource.
In these times, you have to know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy. Or you should be doing something really outrageous to get noticed. Else it is extremely difficult to get that magazine interview, that gig at the hip venue/festival or that music video on national television based only on pure talent.
5. Lack of good mentors/producers
All bands love their songs like their babies. Everyone thinks they write awesome music. But what is needed is an experience third person perspective, a reality check. Bands first need to accept that they can be better, have a will to learn, to seek advice & improve. Then look for someone in the field who can guide them in the right direction.
Unfortunately, great mentors/producers in India are very rare. But once you find someone who you think you can look up to, do not be afraid to approach them. You would find it surprising how approachable a good producer is. You just need to be honest about what you believe in. 🙂
What do you guys think? What challenges have you faced? Let's hear them.
This article is contributed by Hardik Vaghela, Co-Founder of Muziclub and Alif.