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There’s no such thing as free music

There’s no such thing as free music
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I’ve been staring at a blank word document since the past couple of hours. That pretty much sums up my current state of mind. Blank. I think it might be the lull before the storm. After the havoc wreaked by Hudhud, it’d be highly inappropriate to liken it to my state of affairs, but I can’t think of anything more apt. Tomorrow is when the storm hits me. And, my crew of bravehearts. Tomorrow is when I start shooting my next music video. This one’s especially tough because I’m shooting in a city I’m not particularly familiar with, and the song happens to mark my songwriting debut. Talk about performance pressure!

While on paper it doesn’t seem like a massively difficult job, but in reality it’s far from simple! Especially when one has to self-finance it, because we live in a country where there’s practically no, or very little, money for independent artistes. I mean, let’s face it, our music industry is driven by and focused almosy entirely on our film industry. So, when it comes to indie artistes, nobody really wants to invest because there are absolutely no guaranteed returns. And, even if there is, it isn’t a patch on what film music can garner!

I don’t mind spending my own money, but I too need to earn it someway, right? Money doesn’t grow on trees (how I wish it did!). With producers and organisers unwilling to pay musicians’ their worth, where is the money supposed to come from? Some of us might have the necessary monetary support (family, day job, or such), but not every artiste does! When an event organizer hires a musician, he thinks he only has to pay for ‘some music’. But, music isn’t a tangible product that a value can be attached randomly to it. When a musician gets paid, it isn’t just for the ‘n’ number of songs he sings/plays. It is for:

*Someone to sing/play at the event
*Equipment and Instruments
*Hours of rehearsal time
*Money spent on lessons/training to become the musicians they are
*Publicity costs
*Professional and Income Tax
*Telephone bills run up in order to organize aforementioned performance and rehearsals Insurance
*A percentage for any manager/agent, if there is one

Music isn’t a product that can be sold/bought. It’s an experience that has to be lived. If we don’t respect the rare breed of people who have been given the gift of music, then this world, I’m afraid, will cease to exist the way we’ve known it to!

Time and again I’ve been asked by people to sing for free. A lot of times I even have. On umpteen occasions, producers have haggled with me over my remuneration making me feel like a vegetable vendor. But, not anymore. I’m done being taken advantage of. Recently I read somewhere- You wouldn’t expect a plumber, carpenter, stylist, doctor, dentist, optician, electrician, chef, mechanic, designer to work for free, would you? Truer words have never been spoken!

Malini Banerjee is a snotty single child, mountain junkie, playback singer, Austen addict, hopes to soon finish writing her debut novel, and dreams of singing alongside Buddy Guy
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