Gigs are youngsters' latest route to fame, money

Ritika Arora   |  New Delhi


You've heard of video jockeys, radio jockeys and disc jockeys. Now comes the gig culture! Trending in a big way in major cities, it's seen as another career option by college-goers who look at gigs as a means to earn pocket money and recognition.

Gigs or concerts or live performances are becoming a must for uptown cafes in any metro city. Dim and diffused lighting, comfy couches, delicious delicacies topped with awesome music definitely make for a perfect evening. And with the increase in the gig culture, music lovers get to listen to the best of rock, blues, jazz and hip-hop - and the performers are smiling all the way to the bank.

"It's all business. Cafe owners provide us a platform and we help them earn more. Today, an evening is incomplete without a live band performance," said Manish Kumar, 20, lead vocalist with one-year-old band Impatient Lovers.

Almost a decade ago, music was considered just a hobby and not as a profession. Mothers and girlfriends used to insist their loving sons and boyfriends become doctors, engineers, lawyers and the like.

But today musicians have got their due recognition.

"I started learning music when I was 14. I am doing my graduation in the vocal arts. And I also teach the guitar at the Rock School of Music. My parents always supported me and my girlfriend suggested the band name," Manish Kumar said.

Their band has four members and plays progressive Indian rock.

Earnings are pretty good.

"We do gigs across Delhi and NCR and earn up to Rs.30,000 per gig," Manish Kumar, who has a couple of singles to his credit. "We divide whatever we earn and don't take money from our parents. We have made our passion our profession."

Similar is the story of Ishan Kumar, lead vocalist with The Alibi, a four-member band.

"We are in the same college. Initially, we started jamming at college fests. Last year we thought of widening our horizons," he said, adding that the Internet came in handy.

"We got lucky online. We posted our videos on the Internet and got many hits. Then we read about Hard Rock Cafe's online competition. We sent them our videos and got selected and performed there," Ishan Kumar added.

"I feel websites like YouTube help promote music. There's great scope for new bands. People listen to them and like them. Some of them like Agnee, Indian Ocean and Euphoria have even got a chance in Bollywood."

Ishan Kumar, who plans to move abroad to study music, said his band has so far performed at fests and at a few pubs.

Various genres of music are infused to make these gigs interesting.

College student-cum-musician Pranav Diwedi, lead vocalist with one-year-old band Swarantar, said: "We play Indo-fusion rock. We are a band of seven people who have varied music influences. Like our guitarist, who is from Assam, is a diehard fan of Metallica.

"I have learned classical music; so I mostly listen to Zakir Hussain and Pandit Ravi Shankar. Our keyboardist is from Kerala and he learned music from his grandmother, who is a singer. So we play varied genres. And that's the reason we get choosy when we play because we expect sensible audiences."

He said a production company hired them after hearing them at a college fest.

"They loved our music. We recorded with them and earned Rs.2 lakh. We usually charge Rs.30,000 to Rs.50,000 per show, but when we get to open with renowned bands like Indian Ocean or Parikrama, we don't charge a single penny because we want people to know us. Also, social networking sites help promoting music," Diwedi told IANS.

They also have a back-up plan.

"Music is our first priority, but we have kept different career options as well. Like some of our band members are doing chartered accountancy and engineering," Diwedi said.

If friends are jamming together, siblings are not far behind.

Vishwesh Mogia, a student of Maulana Azad Medical College, performs with his two brothers.

"We are three brothers and passionate musicians. We had never thought of forming a band. I write songs. Once I recorded a song and posted it online. I got hits in lakhs. And then we formed a band and here we are. Now we play across the country. We have contacts with pubs and cafes," Mogia said.

Contacts, of course, play an important role in getting opportunities to perform.

"It's important to have links in this profession. I have friends so they call me for the gigs. We have also performed at corporate events and parties," said Manish Kumar. - IANS