The Difference in the outreach of International and Indian indie artists
Posted on 19 September, 2016 by Team Wishberry
The international indie music scene has risen from the womb of the internet era and reached the world. We ourselves listen to so many indie artists from abroad who have reached us through the internet. It is not only their kickass music, but also some of the other things like their music videos, their collaborations, et al, which helps them cross the seven seas and reach us.
Indian indie music scene has also grown leaps and bounds but it has only hit puberty compared to the western world. This gap, though not that big, does affect our artists. So, what causes this difference in reach, not only globally but even within the borders? We take a look.
Music videos are a big deal, and they have been since the beginning of concept based videos. Crazy music videos give people another reason to remember you and your music. That is exactly what most of the international indie artists have known and have been acting upon for a long time. Be it Alt-J’s Breezeblocks or Explosions in the Sky’s Postcards from 1952, the indie bands abroad have always taken efforts to make different, mindblowing videos.
On the other hand, Indian indie artists have been trying to do similar things for a while, but only a few have succeeded. Budget constraints being the major reason, and lack of resources coming a close second.
The major reason for this difference, though, we believe is the lack of a closely-knit art community in the country. Musicians, artists, photographers, visual artists, filmmakers, et al hang out together in the western civilisation and help each other out. That community feeling, to some extent, has been lacking in India.
Another thing which increases the reach and works beautifully for indie artists abroad is collaborations. Musicians abroad can be seen constantly collaborating with other artists and experimenting with their music and influencing each other in miniscule ways.
When the Arctic Monkeys got Queens of the Stone Age frontman, Josh Homme, to produce a few songs from their last album AM, they also had him do some vocal duties on the track Knee Socks. Similarly, Arcade Fire had befriended the legendary David Bowie many years ago, and had him perform with them both in and out of the studio a few times. Like, Bowie’s backing vocals on Reflektor, from their 2013 album of the same name.
Yes, both of these are big names, but there are many a smaller level collaborations. In India, the collaborative culture had picked up during the indiepop era of the early 2000s, but we had to wait for the YouTube era to truly dawn to see some collaborations in that space. Indie music, despite the existing collaborations, is yet to have legendary collaborations regularly.
So many indie musicians abroad have crowdfunded their albums, it is not funny. If you just open a Kickastarter or a Pledgemusic or Indiegogo and search music, you will know what we are talking about. All those campaigns have ensured two things:
The artist made their music without any financial hassles. Which basically meant higher quality recordings and output, and working without worrying about the money.
They reached out to more fans. Yes, it might sound weird, but when you crowdfund you reach out to a newer fanbase which first funds you based on your pitch, show their belief, and also follow your work from thereon.
The name Amanda Palmer has become synchronous to the ‘Queen of music crowdfunding’. She raised a little over a million dollars (24,883 backers pledged $1,192,793) and well, that’s where the crowdfunding record stands as you read this.
But, okay, that’s a huge name you say. But, New York based singer-songwriter Jaymay’s Pledgemusic campaign raised her more than she asked for. Her latest album, To Tell The Truth, was crowdfunded there and she has earned a lot of new followers in the process.
In India, a few musicians have crowdfunded their works, but none of them were able to influence the scene as much into doing so. Indian artists, through crowdfunding can reach a wider audience and earn more fans, while ensuring they take the output quality a notch higher and recording stuff in the places they wish to.
Interesting content for the fans
There is nothing more important than keeping your fans close and engaged. Social media is the way to remain in touch with them regularly, and the internet loves the crazy and the inventive. Innovation is key, and that is what Jaymay does every now and then. Here is an example of her doing a video inside a video (videoception!) of her singing a song with her guitar.
On this count, many indie artists in India are doing great. Nucleya for example, has done some crazy stuff on his social media (and even offline, too. He released an album in a fucking stadium!).
One of the other things which indie artists in the west do is emailers. Regular emails to your fans is a great idea, and has worked a lot for artists. For fans, it is like a personalised message from their favourite artist, and that is always a great feeling.
These are some of the counts on which the difference exists. It is getting better by the day, and there are no doubts about that.
Do let us know if you think there are any other aspects to this difference.