Thoughts from a mehil

So, last night, I went to this musical mehfil, as the curator put it. They had three groups performing their sets. While all of those are fairly known in their circles (of musicians, producers, community, etc), I was unaware that they existed. And I was in for a surprise.

The music was EXACTLY the kinds that I like. Earthy, Hindustani (mix of Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Bhajan, etc), with meaningful lyrics, played without any bells or whistles (acoustic mostly), by young people (that are not chasing frivolous rewards that come along with success in performing arts industry).

Here's a pic that I took there...


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What an evening! What talent! Mad respect for people that put in their blood, sweat and toil in chasing things they’re passionate about. Just like these musicians that I saw today. Thing is, music is one of those things. You know, you could have all the talent that you’re born with. You still need to work hard to polish the rough edges. The three sets I saw today? Each of those collectives (there’s no better word) had polished themselves to so much shine that you could see yourself in them! Thanks @pranitanp for putting this up. I am inspired. Wish I had more that I could support indies with. Someday I would. Till then, thanks @harkat.studios for hosting us. Thanks @beekaybeewrites @yugmofficial and @pranitanp for sharing your music with us. #indie #music #life #love #supportIndie 39/365 PS: When I saw myself in them, I saw a drifter staring at me. And about time, something is done about it!
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While I was there, my head had a million thoughts running amok in it.

Here's an uncontrolled stream of emotions thoughts.

1. 
It is sad that there is so much talent and yet they have to live in relative anonymity. What I mean by relative is that they are still unable to fund their lives from their music. They have to supplement it with other things.

Of course, they may be content with a life like that - where they are forced to do multiple things to earn enough to get to practice their talent for an hour each day. They may even be happy about it. I am no one to impose things on them!

Who am I to preach this?

But I really really want to do something to help them! Here's a twitter thread that I just wrote (while the post is about musicians, the thread is about indie artists per se).

2. 
I work in the events business (I do corporate events) and I have seen my share of rockstars and I have worked with them, their managers and their crew. And most are not really the most pleasant to work with. Of course, the fame and rockstar image requires them to be assholes but there has to be this niceness in the world! The kinds that indies bring to the table.

So, I often recommend these indies to my clients. But then I am dissed most times - the audience wants to enjoy and have a good great time when they are at a corporate event. And wants to show off!

I mean with an indie, they may enjoy more (they would be more flexible, accessible and all that) and could have the best set ever. But people are happier with a mediocre set where half the times the singer may even be merely lipsyncing.

Why? Because most people just want to harp about things they are doing in life, on Instagram and Facebook and all that. And a selfie with a star singer gets them more likes on their Facebook than a relatively unknown one. And that is what matters more than anything else.

3. 
Of course, there are varying degrees of talent and performance by these indies. Some are better than pros, some are so bad that I could do better than them. Most are somewhere in the middle of this continuum. In the ideal world, the ones that have made it must support the ones that are a rung lower than them. The run lower must, in turn, support the ones that are one step lower than them and so on and so forth. You know, this chain of niceness has to pass down to a person like me that wants to be an artist but does not have the talent. Someone a tad better than me must teach me what they know. And in turn, they must learn from others that are ahead of them in the journey.

The top of the ladder is not stardom per se. But an opportunity to make a living that allows them to hone their craft. You know, how kings of the yesteryears would give residencies and grants and largesses to artists to roam around free and create work.

4. 
So, I have a finger in multiple pies (books, films, photography, art, travel, etc) and I think I can try and give these indie musicians an opportunity to do more!

Here's a long list...
  • With TRS, we just started publishing videos of conversations. These videos need intro and outro music pieces. What if we get some original compositions for various episodes and share credit with the ones that create? If their work is out there, there are higher chances of them getting discovered. Plus they can add TRS as a "client" on their portfolio and start approaching more people! 
  • With TRS again, we do live events where we have stalwarts from the industry come and talk to a group of aspiring filmmakers. At each event, we could open with an indie band. And then if location and time permits, do a longer set as people disperse. Again, an opportunity to perform! 
  • With Red Carbon, I can mandate that each film I produce, I would have a track by an indie! And not just the track, I can mandate that the musician would appear. 
  • For Podium, on each podcast, I could end it up with a track by one of the artists. Assuming it does not take away from the listening experience. 
  • At C4E, I can start C4E Indie where I could feature indies and create opportunities for them! I could create a podcast, a media property, a talent management company, a brand solutions company and I don't know what all. Ideally, this should be done by a large brand per se, the biggest I am a part of is TRS but then they are about films. May not be a fit. Or may be. Will have to think. 
  • I could create an event on the lines of Sofar Sounds that allows me to create these gigs across the country, invite indie artists and get the long-tail to pay and make the model sustainable. And from whatever little I know, Sofar has been able to raise some seed funding already. How about a clone? May be. Lemme think. 
Of course, all these require money and I don't have a lot of it right now. So, someday!

5. 
When I heard some tracks in English, I could not relate to words. They don't talk to me as well as Hindi and close cousins do. Ditto for a bunch of languages from East India and South India. I can pick some words that are inspired by the language I speak but I can connect with it. 

I've always believed that music transcends boundaries but for some reason, I continue to remain disconnected to music that is alien to me.

I need to be able to appreciate a larger range of music. And other art forms!

6. 
Where tf is the money in this? No art form, no endeavor exists unless there is a commercial angle to it. Not even religion for that matter. You need to feed people. You need to pay the bills. You need to buy instruments!

Someone has to crack it. Could there be a collective that builds a temple or something and everyone just joins it volunteers to run and thus control costs? I don't know man! 

7. 
Music and writing and poetry and acting and other such things can teach you so much and so much better than traditional methods. Must use these more liberally in whatever I do!

8. 
So, for all musicians and artists, there are some adjacencies?

Lemme give examples. There was this pianist that makes money by teaching others piano. There is this painter that teaches others to paint. There is this waiter that writes stories at night. There is this actor that works at a film portal.

The idea is that all of them do something adjacent to what they want to do. And each day at "work" makes them practice and hone their art better.

Can I create economically viable businesses and ideas around these adjacencies? Workshop for actors, coaching classes for musicians, etc, etc.

9. 
Can I link various art forms and create a system per se where they seek help and work from each other and pay each other in-kind? Say, you are doing a concert and you need a poster for that. You tap into this network and get a poster designed. You now owe the network a unit of work. Someone else needs a piece of music and you owe the network one unit and you now create a piece of music that is worth that unit.

Am I making sense?

10. 
And in the end, who even reads these posts? Do you?

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