The changing face of Nepali music due to the presence of online music hosting websites that allow connection and communication between artists and listeners is more than evident. What’s interesting is that, along with social media, they are providing a platform to bands and musicians who do not like to associate themselves with the commercial scene.
It’s no wonder that the general music listening experience has been completely transformed with the advent of the internet. You can download and listen to entire discographies online and buy physical copies of the records you like. The tape-trading era could have hardly imagined this coming. Of course, the internet has also impacted record sales, but for us listeners, there’s less disappointment and more excitement. There are several sites that have been exclusively built as audio hosting interfaces, the three most popular ones being SoundCloud, Reverbnation and Bandcamp.
Local hardcore veterans Jugaa have been using Bandcamp for the past few years now, where they have uploaded their entire discography – two EPs, a demo and a split album. “What I like about Bandcamp is the reliance on high-quality formats. Uploading .wav files is mandatory, and users then have the option of downloading through various file formats and quality. The site is easy to navigate and somehow feels complete,” says Anil Shakya, Jugaa’s drummer. “Want to view a larger version of the album cover? Just click on it. Want to know more about the song or read the lyrics? There’s an option there as well.” Besides the choice of free downloads, users can also charge money or give the downloader the option of paying if they want. The layout too can be personalized. Basically, ease of use and good looks are the main draws!
The alternative rock band Mukut (The Musical Headgear) on the other hand chooses Reverbnation. Their profile contains almost their entire first album for download and a couple of songs from their latest one for streaming. “The best thing about the site is that it is like an online community of people – both musicians and the audience. Unlike Facebook, the comments we get there are very authentic and genuine,” says Roshan Kunwar, guitarist and composer of the band. Though used mostly by non-commercial musicians to share their material, profiles of mainstream artists like The Uglyz and Cobweb too can be seen here.
The young and talented Rohit John Chettri, who became huge thanks to his song ‘Bistarai’, also uses Reverbnation. “There are numerous interesting features of this site, like genre distinction and artists charts under various genres, both globally and locally,” states Chettri. “Views are shown, online reviews can be imported as quotes, and the player wizard can be installed on Facebook. Overall, it’s like having your own website.”
The third and comparatively more popular music-hosting website among Nepali artists is SoundCloud. Pramithus Khadka, the frontman of the indie rock band Topi shares, “We use SoundCloud, but not for any particular reason. Like any other music-sharing site, it’s free of cost. You can upload certain minutes of audio in total for free. Secondly, the interface is very easy and convenient to use. You can also share the tracks on other social media and even play it on mobile devices.” Bipul Chettri, of Wildfire and Asaar fame, chose this website to share his music, leading to widespread recognition. Albatross, too, posted new songs from their upcoming release on their SoundCloud page a few days ago.
While these new tools have much to provide to both the artists and the listeners, Kshitiz Moktan of Sangharsha has a varying view. “The excitement and surprise element of tape trading is certainly missed these days. Of course, the internet has made music creation and accessibility easier, but it has also populated the industry with millions of substandard music which either overwhelms the listener or makes him not bother to check anything out at all.” !