On the road to success

On the road to success

Ehsaan Noorani, of the Ehsaan-Shankar-Loy trio, talks about his experiences in the music industry and what it takes to hit the jackpot. SWATI DAFTUAR tunes in.

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You’ve got the talent, the sound, the zeal, but are these enough to make it big? What are the factors that need to come together for one to survive as a musician in India? How difficult is the journey, and what preparations have to be made on the way? Once you’ve realised your dream, the reality of survival comes into focus, and it was to explain and understand this part of the making of a musician that 100 Pipers India Music Week held a workshop conducted by Ehsaan Noorani.Ehsaan Noorani, of the Ehsaan-Shankar-Loy fame, is one of the most well-known and appreciated music composer and guitarist. His journey has been a long one, and he’s gone from playing in a rock band to being a studio musician, to becoming one of the most successful Bollywood music producers’ trios.

Diversifying

Noorani talked about his own journey as a musician during the workshop, using snippets from his life to explain the struggles and obstacles an artist might face, both in the independent music scene as well as Bollywood. Noorani told his audience about how he started playing guitar while trying to finish school. He then studied music formally — music education, he stressed, is important for today’s musicians. He also studied music with Mr. Bismarck Rodrigues, a famous guitar teacher from Mumbai. One of the first “tips” he had to offer was, “Don’t limit yourself to only one genre, keep an open mind.” Before Noorani started composing music, he was a guitarist for many music directors.

The atmosphere of the workshop was both candid and relaxed. Noorani stressed that a formal education in music is a necessary factor today for someone looking to become a professional musician. Acquiring different skillsets and keeping an open mind helps prepare you for varied jobs. While the idea of starting a band, releasing an album and making millions might sound attractive, it is of course, not easy at all and does not hold true for a majority of artists. In fact, it is a highly ambitious goal and takes a lifetime to achieve, requiring patience, hard work and careful planning and execution.

Dive into desi

The music scene in India is also fast changing, and newer, Hindi and regional language indie bands are breaking into the scene and doing well for themselves. There is a newfound respect for these bands that explore Indian languages and music. Noorani’s advice to the young and upcoming musicians in India was to “try and crack the Hindi music genre”. The entire trick of the trade lies in keeping an open mind and experimenting with different genres till you’ve found your sound, or sounds. A professional musician in India needs to wear different hats; be equally adept at performing live on stage as well as composing music for movies. Limiting yourself only limits your reach as an artist and the availability of gigs.

Once again, Noorani reiterated the importance of acquiring a varied number of skills in the beginning of one’s career as a musician.A musician also needs to know the music business well, and be able to navigate his way around it. The current music scene in India is booming and expanding constantly, incorporating different genres, sounds and styles. A musician has to recognise these and find his place within it, as well as be aware of the market, put out his songs and collect revenues.This is a business in which connections do come in handy, and while his music is the first and foremost priority for an artist, networking is very important too. Socialising is important as a support system and social network that both sustains and encourages.

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