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The 21st Century Singer

Singing has and probably always will be one of the most direct and hard-hitting forms of music; a form that connects on a very personal level with most people. That’s obviously because of the fact that anyone can sing along to a song. Which is why, in today’s age of digital instruments and software music, the skill of singing is still just as revered as it always has been.

However, it would seem that singers today have way more scope than singers of yesteryears, what with the advent of the digital medium and its seamless integration into our realities. Digital advertising campaigns, webisodes and online reality TV series besides mainstream advertising and films are a great source of work for the contemporary singer. And who can discount youtube; the most massive platform for singers to showcase their prowess and versatility. Every other day sees the birth of a new youtube sensation and this translates to many opportunities; right from touring across the country and globe to high profile collaborations, from being the voice of a brand to singing for film and everything in between.

However, today’s era of lattes and short attention spans demands that singers be even more unique than ever before. Virtuosity is always an added advantage but what today’s Music Industry really demands is a fresh voice in terms of delivery, texture and perhaps even attitude. Singers need to be more abreast than possibly any other kind of musician, except music producers, with the latest trends that are catching the youth’s fancy. Why just the youth? Well, the youth is the voice of the nation and if a singer can be the voice of the youth, appealing to their sensibilities, then he/she has a really strong chance of getting a lot more recognition, eventually leading to a lot more work. Gone are the days when a singer has to be trained in just one form of music; today’s singers need to be versatile and as well versed in different styles like Jazz, Blues and R&B as they are in Hindustani classical music. Once a singer achieves a level of proficiency over different styles, he/she becomes of greater value to music composers and other musicians too. To illustrate this with an example, here’s a question to you, the reader. Let’s put you in the shoes of a music composer working on music for different mediums, right from films to advertising and theatre. Now, would you prefer hiring 5 different singers to execute 5 different genres or one singer who is equally proficient at all 5 genres? The answer is pretty obvious isn’t it? This is the essence of survival for a singer today; either you’ve got to be versatile or you’ve got to have a voice that’s so obviously unique that the industry hires you just to have your voice. However the problem with the latter option is singers with unique voices are only as valuable as the trend lasts. Once the craze about their voices has fizzled out they are left with a lot lesser work than a skilled, technically sound and versatile singer. Versatility doesn’t just help singers personally but also contributes to raising the benchmark of musicality thereby contributing to the evolution of the music industry on the whole.

India may very well be witnessing the beginnings of a renaissance of sorts, with music and film taking a more contemporary and experimental turn. Versatility is taking precedence over virtuosity in just one genre and creativity comes before convention. Singers that desire to make a thriving career, not just one-off projects but steady work, may very well need to constantly reinvent themselves, even more than ever before. Competition is way fiercer than ever but for the ones that make the cut there’s a huge slice of the Music Industry pie waiting to be eaten (metaphorically speaking of course, though pie is always nice!).

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