Thursday, July 28, 2011

The making of an audience

(This essay originally appeared in Open magazine.)

There’s a lot of good stuff out there even if little of that is mainstream. In the age of auto-tune, indie bands are stepping up to reclaim intellectual purity. (‘Indie’ is a term generally used to denote relatively obscure bands signed up with independent record labels.) As far as Western indie bands are concerned, there’s barely any money to be made anyway beyond the Anglophone market. In the case of desi indie bands, any awareness of their work would probably be limited to the Indian cognoscenti whose number is restricted to a few thousand and who till recently were inclined to pass up locally produced music in favour of classic American and British bands.

This is a condition that the fledgling Indian college radio scene can rectify. Ruia College Radio does some interesting things. The RJs speak to their guests and audience in a mix of English, Hindi and Marathi. There is even a show that promotes Urdu culture. I’ve heard them play ghazals in languages like Marathi. (I didn’t know they were performed in anything other than Urdu.) They don’t play material that might be considered commercial. It is no coincidence that Indian bands can now dream of sustaining themselves without playing a single Metallica cover. The intent is great, but they really ought to work on hitting international standards of quality.

Read more here.

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