Indie 101

By Audio Pervert - 9/04/2017

Ritnika Nayan, head of Music Gets Me High has recently published a book titled Indie 101. The book is a nifty guide into the world of career building for young musicians and the various facets of music business containing the multitude of options within. A folio of steps, information and advice for newbie musicians and bands who would become the artists of the future. The book available physically as well as digitally, contains 253 pages designed very minimally laying emphasis on the information and advice about the various aspects of the music industry and further what it might take to be become a successful artist in this day and age. Though the subtitle claims to be the "Ultimate guide to the independent music industry of India", on close reading the book comes across as a mentor or guide for budding inexperienced musicians, bands and individuals entering the industry and business. Which are many !

The book includes detailed explanations of how the industry works in relation to the artist as well as what an artist needs to be prepared for. Indie 101 is subdivided into three large sections - which attempt to demystify chattels of building a studio, to finding a manager, to managing social media, to creating tours to getting on with record deals to looking for sponsorship and alternative sources of funding. A significant part of the book is dedicated to interviews with select industry stalwarts, journalists, professionals and independent musicians and producers from India. Though the ground reality of independent music in India is very different from the rosy-picture painted by these self-styled experts, clearly a fair amount of practical and technical advise can be found within these interviews. As Indie 101 serves to be an equitable and practical guide for newbies, and not a review nor analysis of the actual status of "indie" music in India. The existence of competition, favoritism, corporate hegemony or even rivalry, that is often seen and felt inside the 'indie circles' of India, is not being discussed in the book.

As Indie 101 claims "The music industry in India today, is booming". The definition and conditions of 'indie' (music only) in India remains largely open, to study and to speculation. It has been poised for almost a decade now, as globalization and emergence of technology has swept in massive changes, yet to mostly favor and award very few artists & institutions, within a nation of 1.5 billion people. What is Indie in India we ask? Is it Democratic in nature? The actual benefits or sensibility of 'indie' is missing within Indian networks and institutions of independent music when compared to organized movements seen in North America, Germany, Spain, Russia and even certain Asian and Latin American nations. Also fact, the indian independent music industry remains fairly non-legitimized which makes it a very interesting ground to experiment, take chances, for growth and diversification. The book states "India’s recorded music business will double in the next five years bringing in an annual income of 18.9 billion rupees in 2019 [KPMG Federation of Indian Chambers of commerce and industry]" From an independent point of view, the playground in India remains really open and also currently being sequestered at the hands of large international cartels sizing up the future market. Question being what or how does this growth effect or even benefit indie ? If Indie is an Industry, how is it any different from any other entertainment based business, say Bollywood or Hollywood ?

The concept of Indie.What does it mean to you? Why is it important in the Indian context?

Ritnika- Well I use the traditional form of Indie – which is any kind of music that isn’t released on the 3 majors. So in essence, most music we hear in India apart from Bollywood and a few artists on major labels come under this context. I guess you can also categorize it as anything apart from the mainstream Bollywood. So even though I have interviewed Vishal and Monica, their roots are essentially Indie as they never started off straight with Bollywood and in fact made quite a name for themselves in the indie space before venturing into Bollywood.

What do you actually make of the Indian "indie" music scenario given the nepotism, ad-hoc values and competition that exists inside the existing market?
Ritnika - I think competition and nepotism will always exist in any market… I do believe that since our ‘indie’ scene is small and still developing, it would be wiser to try to work together than compete for every little thing… At least that’s how I’ve run my business these last 10 years.

Whats unique about the Indie in India?
Ritnika - As you can see, India is a bit unique. We don’t have much difference between managers, booking agents, publicists and promoters. Most managers in India have to take care of everything; from getting the band shows to setting up meetings with record labels to handling the band’s PR. He or she has to fulfill every task that is required to propel the band’s career further, so it’s important to understand what your manager is providing for you and how it will be beneficial to you in the long run...

is a valuable source of prudent advise and practical information. The book also stands as a showcase for select independent musicians and their suggestions, targeted at future generation of musicians in India. Though much can be taken as speculation and open to scrutiny within the book, we understand importance of this book in an Indian context. We hope there is an Indie 202 on the horizon. Also the price tag makes it irresistible !

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