Music Is a Language to Express Your Emotions: Sunil Khanna

Sunil Khanna, founder, Songdew

Sunil Khanna, founder, Songdew

In India, music has hitherto been limited to films. Obviously, music artists had only a few avenues to showcase their talent.

However, with the proliferation of digital platforms for all forms of communications, new opportunities are opening up for aspiring as well as experienced music pros. This fact is being demonstrated effectively by Songdew, which positions itself as an online social network for music artists and consumers.

While Songdew is leveraging digital media to create a strong music ecosystem in India, RMN Stars invited Sunil Khanna, founder, Songdew to know more about the emerging music market in India and Songdew’s contribution in the market.

Here is what Sunil said in an exclusive interview with Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Stars.

1. It appears that today there are more music artists than the music consumers in the market. Is the demand for music so high? If yes, then what is the reason for the surge in this demand?

Oh not true, there are millions of music lovers and they would always be more than music artists. But I guess the question is about growing number of musicians. I think there are a couple of factors which are driving that number.

Music traditionally has been a language to express your emotions, your thoughts. And that’s how it has grown in so many countries and that’s how it fascinated a large number of people globally who found music as one of the best ways to express themselves.

However, in India, music primarily has been used to strengthen a narrative of fiction rather than expressing yourself. For everyone including lyricist, composer and singer the challenge has been to align their creativity with the thoughts of fictional characters.

That obviously reduced the opportunities for musicians as there could be only limited number of movies which could be produced.

However, things are changing and indie market in India is expanding as more and more musicians are using music to express themselves rather than only looking for getting entry into the film industry.

The second major development is obviously the way digital media is empowering musicians to promote their music rather than depend on established media players.

2. How do you define the quality of music?

Well, there is mixed trend. Some of the guys are doing outstanding work and creating exceptional music. However, there are many who have not been doing that great work – not because there is lack of skill but more because they are not investing as much time as it requires to create outstanding work.

3. While Songdew positions itself as a social network for music artists and consumers, what is the unique selling proposition (USP) of Songdew for artists which is not available on, say, Facebook or Myspace?

Facebook is a huge platform; it does connect people. However, musicians need specific tools to promote their music, gigs, etc. Songdew fills in the gap. It is a wholistic platform which empowers artists to promote their music, distribute the same globally and connect with their fans.

We also create some very exciting opportunities for artists by our association with TV Channels, FM Radios, Music Festivals, and print media.

4. How do you measure the impact of your service on the growth of music ecosystem, including artists, consumers, brands, and so on?

Internet and mobile markets are growing at a phenomenal rate and rewriting the rules of business across the industries. Same is happening in the case of music.

India as a country has rich tradition of music. There is a large number of musicians who are doing phenomenal work. Songdew would ensure that such talented musicians get a platform to showcase their work.

We have always seen that once a platform is given, people do achieve what they are capable of. At Songdew, we believe that indie music has potential to be as big as film music. It just needs some time to explode. And it will happen.

5. What is the business model of Songdew – particularly, how do you monetize your service?

We work on innovative concepts with brands integrating music around their communication strategies.

6. How will Songdew evolve in the future?

Songdew would use technology and emerging platforms like mobile / Internet to ensure that it adds real value to the artists, and for music lovers it becomes destination of discovering great music.

7. What is your advice to the emerging artists who want to adopt music as their career?

Well, there are many people to give many advices and a lot of them talk sense – like musicians need to use Internet to grow their fan base, connect with them, etc. However, to my mind all that is fine but that alone will not take any musician anywhere. Musicians need to think big.

Today, many of them do a gig for Rs. 10,000 (nearly US$ 175) and most expensive ones would be perhaps around Rs. 100,000. However, famous bands in the USA do get $1 million for live performances.

I am not saying that India is USA. But the point I am trying to convey is that musicians need to think big and that means they need to focus on first creating outstanding music; then if they do so, commercial success will follow. They will get many people who would be willing to do all kinds of digital activities for them.

It is true that there are various imperfections in the system in India, including lack of venues, lack of opportunities, lack of platforms, etc. However, musicians need to take time out and think if they have created something for which they should be proud of. And if they create such stuff, everything else will fall in place.


Sunil Khanna (pictured above) is the founder of Songdew.


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