Whatever happened to solo albums? There was a time when the likes of Shantanu Mukherjee (Shaan) and Falguni Pathak made it big with "Tanha Dil", and "Yaad Piya Ki". Nowadays, TV and radio channels don't support such endeavours, musicians say, but feel that digital media offers some hope.
After facing a rough patch, the music industry is looking upwards. According to industry lobby FICCI, the Indian music industry generated Rs.9 billion in 2011, registering a growth of five per cent over 2010.
But despite that, there is hardly any space for ghazals, Indipop and solo albums.
The lack of proper promotional channels dissuades musicians from making solo albums, opined playback singer Babul Supriyo, who has been around for about two decades.
"I don't think a solo album by any artist is possible at this point of time because neither TV or radio channels are interested in them. The solo album market does not exist anymore," said Supriyo, who recently collaborated on the "Love Is In The Air" album that will have six singles.
Composer-singer Shankar Mahadevan blames lack of quality for the decline of non-film music and said that today it's only about "film music and people assume that's all that sells".
Arguing that musicians should dispel this notion by adopting strong marketing tools to promote solo albums, the 44-year-old added: "We shouldn't give anyone a chance to say that there is no market for non-film music in India."
"There is no market because non-film music is not good. So, I think we should come together and come out with something really good, market it well, market it the way you would do a big film. If you do that people would definitely want to listen to good songs."
Neha Bhasin of "Dhunki" fame too feels that Bollywood has taken over non-film music, making it harder to sell individual work.
"Solo music albums have almost diminished now. Non-film music does not make much money nowadays. It used to at one time. It is only Bollywood music that sells now," Bhasin, who recently released her new single "Tera Mera", told IANS.
The 29-year-old, who won Channel V's music talent-hunt show "Popstars", feels fame and popularity do not give an edge to singers when it comes to releasing solo albums.
"It is not easy. The medium has changed. Television does not support it, radio does not want to play it. It has become really difficult to release in the first place. Taking it to the people comes after that," she said.
What is the option?
The singer says digital platforms help independent artists to some extent.
Soumini Paul, assistant vice president, ArtistAloud.com, a digital platform for independent musicians in India, said artists have a tough time promoting their work but "there is a huge growth in digital consumption through caller tunes and music downloads".
How does a digital platform helps artists?
"It is helpful in many ways. Through social media, an artist can reach out to his current fans or potential fans on his own and does not has to be dependent on record labels to build fan base," Paul explained.
Not only that. Through the digital media, an artist can promote a song over and over through various offerings as against to the analogue mode where one has just one chance.
However, despite the availability of digital media, the going seems to be tough for solo albums.
(Astha Khurana can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)