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Making Music

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Have you ever wondered what kind of work has gone into that new single you heard on the radio? Or the cool music in that new ad? There’s music all around us, across almost all media, and yet we somehow believe that we can’t have a career as a musician

The average piece of music you come across has a composer, a lyricist, a producer, an arranger, musicians that performed it, recording engineers, mixing engineers, mastering engineers and a whole industry of media and marketing professionals behind it. All of these are viable career options.

Being a performing artist is one of the most sought-after careers because it carries with it fame and fortune for those who break into the top bracket, and it remains a dream for many. Music production happens more behind the scenes, but it is just as creative a career, if not more. Producers need to have a good working knowledge of their hardware and software tools, and  these skills can be learned in degree and diploma programmes offered by institutes such as the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (SAM), ILM Academy and Beatfactory Academy.

Formal careers for musicians, producers and sound engineers in films, radio and television have existed for decades. While the roles may have changed with the times, the essence remains the same.

Commercial music in India is synonymous with film music. Each film made creates a multitude of jobs for composers, music directors, programmers, lyricists, live musicians and also professionals on the production side, with recording engineers, mixing engineers, mastering engineers, producers and more.

Vocalists and playback singers are held almost at par with the lead actors in a movie, in terms of the fame and celebrity status. This opens up many further avenues in allied media – TV shows, reality shows, interviews, news and other coverage are part of the package. Remuneration starts out low but even a single hit can mean skyrocketing fees and instant stardom. Unlike actors, who can’t afford a flop, singers go relatively unnoticed until their next hit.

In the current scenario, not many musicians hold hard qualifications, and many haven’t received formal training in music. This means that given the massive size of the industry and the sheer number of feature film productions, entering the world of music production, composition or engineering for films is a potentially lucrative option for educated musicians.

The Indian TV market is the third largest in the world, reaching 161 million viewers, with over 800 channels. TV alone is expected to be worth over 50,000 crores in 2014.

Now each of these TV and news channels hire their own producers and sound engineers, so all the jobs in films have their counterparts in TV and news. While the pay scale is low, the frequency of work and regularity of the job make it a good career.

Like most other media channels, FM Radio has seen a massive increase in channels and content. As many as 245 FM channels were launched in 85 cities since 2005, and 839 more channels are going to be launched in 294 cities. This industry is expected to cross 1500 crores in 2014.

Broadcasting music and audio is the primary service a radio station provides, and hence it is a medium that values musicians and audio professionals. Production in these studios includes voice-overs, jingles and promotions, as well as curating music.

Gaming, led by over 214 million internet users and 130 million mobile users, is one the fastest growing industries in India, with massive potential in the years to come. Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi/NCR are the main centers for this industry with over 300 game development companies in India right now, the casual gaming revenue in India is set to quadruple by 2015 to USD 244 million.

Composers and producers are hired to create music for these games. Sound effects are another category altogether that comes under sound design. This is usually also done by a musician with experience in synthesis.

In terms of producing music, it’s not unlike film scoring, however the terms of employment resemble that of software engineers. Unlike most freelance work and studio employment, hours of work are clearly defined and standard HR practices apply. Since these game developers are organised by professional companies, working even as a musician or sound designer carries the same financial security as any IT professional career.

Being an electronic artist is a serious profession these days too. Some of the world’s largest concerts, attended by hundreds of thousands are electronic dance music (EDM) concerts, played by one or just a few DJs. Skrillex, one of the top earners once made USD 200,000 in a single night. India has its share of excellent independent electronic music producers who are steadily putting a fan base together, and we have our own festivals too.
There’s a lot more to music production, so if you have the passion for it, make sure you equip yourself with the right knowledge and tools, and you will find success.

About the Author
Mark Aranha
Senior Manager – Marketing,
Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music
For more about SAM, visit

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