Musicians are loud voices of the many quiet hearts. Patricia Mascarenhas explores the heaping opportunities in music today and strategies for seeking them out.
Do you love music and have always dreamed of becoming a musician? If the answer is yes, then it is never too late to set out in search of your true passion. “With the advent of newer digital platforms like YouTube more and more musicians are coming out of the woodwork to consider full time music as a career,” says Devraj Sanyal, MD, Universal Music Group South Asia.
A musician can be anybody who creates and performs music. “Many are of the conception that only those who play an instrument are musicians but musicians consist of a broad group of artists who play musical instruments, sing, compose, and arrange music in a variety of settings,” says Rupmatii Jolly, freelance movie singer, lyricist and founder of fusion band KarmaaSutra.
True, in this variety of settings, it is a highly competitive field, but those who succeed reap the benefits of doing something they love and earn a living at the same time. Not to forget the perks like the opportunity to travel, and the appreciation of the audience. “Watching people being able to connect with the music you play is a great high for musicians,” says Linford D’souza, drummer.
But how does one get there? “It all depends on how good you are and how hard you are willing to work for it. There are many new artists that play 4-6 gigs a month which is good money,” Sanyal exclaims. “It takes time and patience to be heard but once that happens, life is good. We’re often slow starters but good finishers,” laughs Jared Creado, bassist.
Anyone can learn to play a musical instrument, compose or sing, but not everyone can be a professional musician. Whether one hopes to boost an income, stand out from a competitive field, or erect an empire, it always helps to have the right set of professional musical skills. “Like MBA makes a better manager, in most cases professional training makes you a better musician,” advices Sanyal.
“Working as a young musician is not always fun. Not only does it require technical and musical training, but also some amount of ‘promotional’ skills that can drive you to stardom,” says Jolly. It often happens that musicians don’t always have the talent for PR and marketing. “Instead of concentrating on their music, young artists end up wasting time and energy doing something they are not cut out to do,” she says further advising that aspirants should make connections in the music industry to gain tips and inspirations from other artists.
Despite all the irregular working hours, time away from home, intense competition and multiple practice hours, musicians chase their passion. For them, it’s like the last bus in the night. When asked, ‘where do you see yourself in the next five years and what do you see yourself doing’, D’souza quipped, “BEHIND A DRUM SET, PLAYING THE DRUMS,” he laughed adding, “ If you can’t see yourself doing anything else, you have no option but to simply pursue it."
Sound of Music
Music is one of the most intense forms of art and expression, says musician Jose Neil Gomes who has played with Grammy winners A.R. Rahman, Imogen Heap, Seun Kuty, and Juno Reactor.
I started taking violin classes and also learnt a bit of music theory (Solfejo) when I was nine. After trying hard to ace the instrument, I gave it up as I did not feel motivated. Music however, didn’t bail out. After I enrolled in St. Xavier’s College, I went back to musical instruments and began teaching children. The inspiration did not fade this time around. Also, by then, I had tried everything possible- journalism, photography, advertising etc. Nothing brought me more peace and bliss, as music.
Music constantly evolves. So, you keep getting better every day, depending on how eager you are, and the tastes you develop. Whatever you do, training always helps but it also depends on the kind of music. Most of the greatest pop/rock/blues artists have been self-taught. But, classical, jazz, fusion etc; require a lot of preparation.
Each instrument requires dedication. I play about 23 musical instruments including viola, cello, upright bass, flute and saxophone. I have picked up many instruments since my first year of college and began playing with Kailasa, Sunidhi Chauhan`s troupe, Hipnotribe, tribal flora and my own project ‘Grass is Green’ (GIG).
Every performance throws a new challenge at you. Here the biggest challenge however, is to sustain oneself as an independent musician. Commercial music has sizeable returns. It takes a while to get into the mainstream industry, depending on your luck and passion. When you start off, its mostly hand-to-mouth existence that’s when doubt, fear, and ego are you`re strongest foes.
Iif you do what you like you’re bound to find `Nirvana` in small packages. Every rehearsal or concert is an installment of `Nirvana`. You`ll give it your 100 per cent to do what makes you happy, and then gigs keep following in.
Aspiring musicians should be true in their music and work hard. There will be challenges but the key is to keep trying new sounds, new techniques, and new production. Stay motivated even when you fail. Self realization is the best knowledge.