INDIA: In the recent past, music in India has been growing at a rapid pace. India is being looked at as one of the fastest growing industries in this space. While the music grows, there is also a need to recognize and celebrate the lives of musicians. They are celebrities in their own right, however, we have been very submissive in celebrating them the same way as we celebrate Bollywood Actors or Team India Cricketers. One would ask why? The answer lies in the theory of progression. Let me explain.
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Actors in Bollywood today and actors in Bollywood as close to ‘90s have evolved at a rapid pace. Today, actors not only see that they are on top of their skills, and they practice it very hard, they also want to remain at the top of their grooming and presentability. There is a clear demarcation that can be noticed, for instance how our beloved Dilip Kumar Saheb or Rajendra Kumar Saheb appeared in yesteryears, and how the new crop, let’s say a Tiger Shroff or even a Shah Rukh Khan appear; there is a marked difference. From only acting as the sole focus, they have moved to acting plus dancing plus fitness plus reach and many other things. It is not just about good acting; good acting has become a baseline from where the next level of work starts. They have upgraded themselves leaps and bounds. Take for instance Shah Rukh Khan himself, from the days of Deewana to now, the transformation has been mind-blowing!
Same can be seen in sports too. Think about the cricketers from the ‘70s or ‘80s or ‘90s or even from 2000s. We have witnessed some of the rare talent from these times. No one can deny that Sachin Tendulkar is and will remain the God of Cricket, no one can deny the immeasurable impact that Dada had on Indian team. But fast forward to 2020, you will find most of our cricketers in the best of their shape, conscious of how to present themselves considering they are looked up to by millions of people and working hard both on their skills, physical fitness and grooming.
This is an evolution that has happened in some of the more visible and more commercially competitive industries or fields as we may call them. Now, coming to music industry. We know for a fact that Indian music industry has been growing at a good pace, even despite COVID impact. For any industry to grow further, it requires a lot of variables to come together and form a meaningful equation. Some of these variables are reach, followership, financial viability, brands association, etc. From where we are now, in the industry, we must prepare to take a leap to the next level, and that too at a very fast pace.
The biggest competition for musicians is not from the fellow musicians. The competition is external. It is from the actors, the cricketers, the social media influencers and more. As we stand today, when a brand has to put in some resources for their promotion and they are found with the choices between actors, cricketers and musicians, they would, more often than not, end up choosing an actor or a cricketer. While we may always rue the fact that music as an industry is not getting its real dues, we cannot put the onus of this on the companies who work on ROI model. For them, the choices are made based on commercial viability as they are responsible to keep afloat jobs of millions of people dependent upon them, which in turn will depend upon the sales of their products. So, what should be done?
The answer to this lies in how outside-in we can look. If we need more support and we need more growth, we need to scale up to the field where our competition is operating in our country. And it requires some good hard work with the industry also realising the same. Look at the US for that matter. The musicians there have developed an ecosystem that adds value to brands. We need to develop that too and it starts with an overhaul from within. To me, this will also form a part of natural progression that every publicly profiled field goes through. Music industry will also not remain untouched as it would need to compete and out-compete the already set benchmarks by the other publicly profiled industries or fields.
As I see it, musicians are role models for many; they serve as their direction setters. We, as industry and as artists, should also start focusing on how we want to position ourselves. Yes, music and talent have to be the baseline, but we should take the responsibility of guiding fitness, right ethics, etc. to the followers. ‘Sexiest Musician Alive’, the listing which is to come, does not take away the due from so many legends of the industry. It does not talk about the best musician. It is a way to celebrate the most loved and adored musician in India. And, as the response shows so far, it is something that has been accepted by people. Yes, there are some who have objection to this, but then in democracy it’s only fair to have varied opinions. At the end of it, however, it’s the majority that decides the course of action. It is also a way to showcase to the world of brands that musicians in India are some of the most desired celebrities and it is time that they started putting focus on this field as well, apart from Bollywood and Sports.
We have been witnessing a surge of support from common people for their followed artist. The traction that has developed has given me a very positive sign that celebrations like these are the need of the hour. People love it and in my view they want more of this to express their adulation for their followed artists! Make no mistake, talent is the baseline, and it is the same democratic population that will troll you if you are just about style statement without any credible talent within yourself.
Let’s see how the results turn up, but one thing is for sure, the music industry will never be the same after this!
Vishwa Deepak Dikshit, Founder of UnMitigated and MusiCulture, is a Media Entrepreneur and a Logistics professional. He is an alumnus of MDI, Gurugram and has been an active political commentator. He tweets at @vishwadikshit