'Gloomy tunes' in Covid pandemic

Cancelled shows and selling music tracks to OTT projects, Bengaluru-based musical bands are struggling to manage their financial and social challenges

Published: 02nd August 2021 04:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd August 2021 04:01 AM   |  A+A-

Swarathma band

Swarathma band

Express News Service

BENGALURU: As auditoriums and other place of social gathering are now allowed to open up with reasonable restrictions, music artistes feel there is still a long road to recovery. Bengaluru-based musical bands are facing the wrath of the pandemic, impeding their social and economic growth in the entertainment industry.

Some musical bands are looking at new ways to earn income, besides performing online shows, while some are just waiting for the restrictions to relax as they pin their hopes on the vaccination drive. Musical bands also believe that many blue-collar workers like sound engineers, light men, logistics personnel, are the most affected of the lot as stage shows serve the primary source of livelihood for them.

Swarathma, a Bengaluru-based music band observes that there is an increase in the selling of music tracks to corporates for advertisement. Jishnu Dasgupta, a bass guitarist in the band says “After the pandemic, a lot of musical band are selling their tracks to OTT projects, corporate advertisements to keep their creative and economic space active. This trend has specially increased after the lockdown. We sold one of our musical tracks Beta Sweater Pehno to Amazon series The Family Man and Khul ja re to an Apple advertisement.” Online shows hardly give us any economic relief but it helps us to take the music to a wider audience,” says Dasgupta. 

On the other hand, Beat Gurus, another city based band has hardly made business since the first wave of the pandemic. “We had little hopes of performing after the first wave of the pandemic but we lost all hopes after the second wave. It had a devastating effect on us. We easily lost up to some eight events which were valued at least R7-8 lakhs. We really doubt if the audience will be in the mood to celebrate when they come back to live events, given that the second wave proved to be fatal to everybody,” says Prashanth Muralidhar, who plays the Djembe, a West African instrument for the band. Further, he said  that fundraiser events like ‘Togetherness Project’, hosted by Karnataka Event’s Management Association did give relief, especially to the blue-collar workers. 

Varijashree Venugopal, an independent musician and a singer and flute player for world fusion band Chakrafonics believes that music show thrives on people’s participation without which the essence is lost. “We are now recording our music in empty auditoriums for our upcoming music festival ‘Kaalarnava’. Without the audience, we feel a big chunk of entertainment is lost. Close to nine music tours of mine were cancelled owing to the travel bans. Individually, we are recording songs, but as a band it has been difficult. I feel after the social gathering restrictions are relaxed, we, as artistes need 10 times more energy to catch the audience’s attention,” says Venugopal.

Praveen, D Rao, an independent music artiste and who formed the Karnataka Artistes Association (KAA) says, “Performing artistes and music shows were the first to be hit due to lockdown and probably the last one to come back during the unlock phase. We established the KAA to keep the livelihood of many aristes stable. Members of the associations including technicians, music artistes, sound engineers were ensured with health covers, medical insurance services, groceries, and food essentials across Karnataka.”


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