03 Apr 2024  |   04:37am IST

The importance of being an independent artist

Artists love their independence and the need for this freedom is important as they strive to make a mark with their compositions without the interference of any third party. On Independent Artist Day, musicians and singers share their opinions
The importance of being an independent artist

Ajit John

Today is an important day. It is Independent Artist Day which is celebrated to highlight the place these individuals with their creativity hold in the world. These individuals with their unique mode of expression bring an interesting perspective to everyday life. This day was first celebrated in 2022.  In Goa, a state with a vibrant art landscape, the presence of artists of various hues adds a certain colour to the larger picture. Goa has a rich tradition of rich musical talent that has contributed much to the culture of the State and Bollywood. Several musicians who were contacted were more than willing to talk about the importance of being independent. This day is necessary to celebrate the independent artists and feature and encourage public engagement with their work. It’s a day that reveals the importance of the independent voice in enriching our lives and communities. 

Goa has a rich tradition of rich musical talent that has contributed much to the culture of the State and Bollywood. 

Renowned bassist Colin D’Cruz says that independent artistes don’t need a record label thanks to platforms like CD Baby, that’s taken 

on the role of a record label. He says, “I have released seven original albums though CD 

Baby where global distribution, copyrights and revenue is taken care of with complete transparency. My advice to independent artists on Independent Artist Day is to upload your music to CD Baby, sit back, relax and enjoy all the benefits of a record label.” 

Another singer whose latest album was sent to the Grammy for consideration, Sherise D’Souza is categorical when she says she prefers being an independent artist. She says, “I have more control over my art. I have a lot to play with the levels of quality, the ideas I want out and the message I want to get out. There are so many factors at play which I can control as opposed to when one is signed up with a record label. We have to balance art with life. Being independent, gives me more freedom to release at my own pace and to communicate the message my soul wants to communicate through my music.  We have platforms like Spotify. Since I am an independent artist, I can experiment with different platforms. I can check the data provided and target the platforms that give me the best response. I released my latest album called ‘Your Little Bird’, which was also submitted to the Grammys. I sing a mix of pop, funk and rock. Being independent gives me the freedom to flit between genres instead of being told by the label. If you sign up with a label, he or she is then your boss and you have to then listen to them as to how to put out your message.” 

She says in today's world, so much new music is coming out every day and the labels spend money to push their artist. The competition between record labels and independent artists looking for play time was intense. Her songs were playing on radio in New Zealand and in a mall in Hyderabad and she was getting paid for it.

For Alan Vaz, it is interesting considering at one point in time he was on the other side of the table promoting Indie artists like Shaan and Sonu Nigam. He was taking care of content and artist relations. After doing this for twenty five years, he started performing in 2015. He says as an independent artist he would easily switch between genres like pop, jazz and country western. Primarily a guitarist, he has performed twice with Lorna. His band even backed her up. He says, “It all depends on the artist. If the label likes your voice then they will sign a contract and promote the artist. The label will spend money to promote the artist.” 

Alan says, “Michael Jackson was with Sony and they helped him sell millions of records. In Goa, an artist gets 50,000 hits, they think are big and it goes to their head. It is important to look at the issues closely before making a decision.”                       

Another veteran, Joshua Costa, a pianist, has definite ideas on the subject. He says, “Labels vs independent have their pros and cons. The record labels help the artist with their connections and funding etc needed, but they also might set the overall direction of the art or artist based on commercial requirement and vox populi. Whereas an independent artist isn’t bound to a label or its direction but needs to figure out the above by themselves and that also has a learning quotient to it. Today, there are avenues like crowdfunding platforms that help artists raise money for recording their music, or touring etc. It ultimately depends on what works for you. For me, it’s a mix. One of the bands I play with might sign up to a label soon for recording, but the rest of it is largely independent. Besides, I love doing freelance session work because it helps me delve into various styles and genres without being bound to any one or two in particular”. 

Joanne da Cunha, who sings jazz, has been an independent artist for close to ten years. She says she loves being independent and has creative control to play whatever she wants. She has no complaints. That, she says, fulfills her needs as an artist.   

The importance of having adequate funds was always important. Errol Andrade has been playing the guitar for the past 15 to 20 years. He says, “You have the freedom to do what you like but it could take a toll on the person. I had recently made a video and it was financed by me and it was tough. But I managed to pull through. I am satisfied but the road is always tough.” The fight between the lure of cash and the possibility of an empty bank account is a battle for everyone.   

The road of independence was always a tough one and would be challenging but the sense of freedom is always exhilarating for the artist who does not  want anyone giving them lectures on what they should be presenting for the benefit of the public. This is a battle that will have to be fought by every artist.  It will be a never ending battle with numerous ups and downs.  


Iddhar Udhar