World Music Day: Hard Times For Naga Musicians But The Show Must Go On - Eastern Mirror
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World Music Day: Hard times for Naga musicians but the show must go on

By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Jun 20, 2021 11:17 pm

Henlly Phom
Dimapur, June 20 (EMN):
The coronavirus pandemic has shifted the music industry in ways no one expected. Live shows and concerts have been cancelled for almost two years. Musicians, thus, had to figure out a way to support themselves and reconnect with their fans without performing live.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the music industry the world over. Negative because the music industry in general relies mostly on real time and live audience/events. Private and public sector alike, no one was ready for this situation, but over time people are all learning new ways of dealing with the situation and adapt to the new normal,’ Theja Meru, Advisor for Task Force for Music and Arts (TaFMA) shared with Eastern Mirror on the eve of “World Music Day”.

The pandemic has badly affected one and all and more than a year has passed since the Covid-19 pandemic affected everyone around the world and musicians were one of the most affected with the industry coming to a standstill. With no physical events, the industry is at the mercy of better days.

“TaFMA since last year has worked very hard to engage with musicians and artists and created numerous opportunities on the digital platform for them to participate and earn. TaFMA is also using this time to help our empanelled musicians get their music on streaming platforms through our partner TuneCore and is also actively networking and reaching out to corporate and music houses to continue to support our artists in the present situation and beyond”, Meru said.

The pandemic, he observed, has not only given TaFMA but many artists and musicians the time to be more creative. ‘Many new songs and contents have been written and released, our musicians have proven to be very strong and stayed motivated, they have in many ways shown the way of hope and calm in the midst of the storm’, he said.

However he asserted that nothing can compare to a live audience — music is all about the energy and meeting people. ‘So the novelty of online streaming can be very unpredictable and many at times the response has not been encouraging,’ he added.

“Digital concerts are expensive to produce for individual artists and highly competitive, so to help our artists make greater impact online and earn well, TaFMA is gearing up with an in-house studio at RCEMPA to help our artist do well-curated digital shows, the space is near finish and will be inaugurated soo,” he informed.

Piano maestro and Yamaha artiste Nise Meruno said although travelling and performing was his career he has been far-sighted during the second wave of the pandemic and has been quite productive. Quoting the famous maxim “The opposite of war isn’t peace. It’s creation,” Meruno said for an artiste, inspiration should come from within and not just by travelling or meeting people especially with the current situation.

On the physical versus virtual performance, he opined that the whole process of a physical concert was interesting; however for online, people may not find it interesting or spend money.

“But the artistes should not spoil the market by doing virtual shows for free,” he added. He also advised that during such trying times, the youngsters who have ventured into this profession need to target the right people, seek help from the seniors and be good with what they do ‘as it all comes to creativity.’

Renowned singer/songwriter Alobo Naga lamented that the coronavirus has really affected the music industry like others with many of his scheduled shows at USA, Hawaii, Chennai, New Delhi, and Mumbai, to name a few, getting cancelled.

‘But for others, the situation has already picked up while the music industry has been affected the worst because of the Covid SOPs,’ he opined.

Music industry, he said, was big and the main source of income was through concerts and with shows, performances and festivals getting cancelled, ‘they were badly affected’.

“Those people who work behind the camera, the stage and studio have been affected along with us. People think since the industry is glamorous we were not affected and so we were neglected. People involved in the music industry were never considered when it comes to extending help as people think the industry is glamorous so we have lots of money and are self-sufficient. There are many artistes who are suffering. Even before the pandemic many artists were struggling and were doing music out of passion,” he shared.

He said that when they were doing online shows, ‘people’s support was there by their presence online but when it came to ticket selling for online shows the support was poor’.

‘We can’t blame them as it was something new. We started learning different techniques of using social media platforms and now we are confident that we can teach music wherever we go’, he expressed.

However, he observed that some musicians were ‘killing their creativity’ and feeling hopeless during this pandemic, more so as one can’t go out and at times being alone makes creativity come to a threshold.

‘Selling music and tickets online will take time as it is new to us and most of the artistes are having a hard time selling them online, however virtual concerts are in one way benefitting the artistes as we can reach out to new audiences and build a fan base,’ he observed.

Another artist Imli Lee told Eastern Mirror that despite the pandemic and the lockdown, many of the artistes are continuing to make music and entertain the masses.

‘And the feedback and response has been quite ok,’ he shared.

“Storming social media with posts and going live from time to time. That is our only get away from the madness of the lockdown. While we have plenty of time to reflect and work on new ideas, things just don’t happen for free, we need those ideas to come into play by going out and producing music, events, shows etc. So no work-no money, no money-no work”, Lee said.

Lee further said people were yet to settle into the culture of pay-per-view as it was a very new thing while most of the virtual concerts are actually for free and not everyone is tech savvy or so much into social media. ‘While some are benefiting out of it, the lot don’t,’ he noted.

Sky Entertainment founder and director Yanren Kikon expressed that the pandemic has led to a total loss of income for those involved in the industry but few smart people from the music industry are finding ways to earn. Public support, he observed, was not encouraging, because the whole world was economically suffering but he believes that the pandemic has given musicians time to ‘really get creative’.

However, when it comes to online performance, he noted that 99.5% were the participants and the organisers who watch the show, ‘so there was no income as people do not spend money for online shows’. He further added that with access to social media, there were many ‘amateur artistes’, which he said was ‘discouraging’ for upcoming musicians and even professional musicians.

Abigail Odyuo, singer/music teacher, said musicians have been disrupted socially and economically. “Especially in a place like Nagaland where the internet connection is poor (and countless limitations) we can’t do much virtually. However, personally, I feel we are coping up and adapting fairly well in this lockdown (2021). Since most people are glued to their phones and gadgets at home, for people with good internet facilities, we’ve seen musicians actively engaging with their fan base and supporters in social media.

“Although many Nagas are adamant to pay for virtual concerts or classes, I personally feel many musicians have been engaging well during the pandemic. As small as actively using our personal social media accounts and sharing music or random posts, the key is to engage with fans and supporters through our posts. While most musicians would opt for the first, some might opt for the later depending on their current scenario, since these trying times could be extremely difficult for some artistes leading them to depression and other mental illness”, she shared.

Virtual concerts aren’t only a way to raise funds for both the artistes and the organisers but a great tool to stay engaged with the audiences. Matter of fact, Odyuo stated, some musicians are using the online platforms to their advantage and gaining more followers and fans.

“Having said the challenges of online payments, it’s difficult to advocate the possibilities and benefits of paid virtual events, however, we’re definitely getting better here, although slowly, but surely.

“The live music will take a lot of time, effort and money to come back to normalcy even after the pandemic is over, secondly there are people suffering to sustain in society as they earn their daily bread by being in the music industry. Lastly, the pause and the void in the music industry during these months will be so difficult to fill in,” she added.

Onen Nenty, another artist, said the pandemic has been productive when it comes to learning music for her, but to create new music was not inspiring as she needs to ‘head out to the world and experience things that inspire her’. However the virtual concert, she said, was benefiting the artistes as even the small amount was helping them sustain themselves in the industry and she expressed hope to see more virtual gigs.

By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Jun 20, 2021 11:17:26 pm
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