Sarthak Karkare is a fan of rock music and has been playing guitar since his schooldays. In college, the 20-year-old decided to turn what was a childhood obsession into a more serious pursuit. Karkare, now a third-year BA student of St. Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao, started an amateur rock band called ‘Unohu’ – for ‘You know who’ - three years ago, along with his younger brother Shashwat, a first-year BA student at the same college. The two were later joined by Yohann Coutinho, a third-year BSc student.
Unohu started performing at college events and when their shows were appreciated by friends and teachers, the trio decided to put the audio and videos of their performances online through video and music-sharing apps. Eventually, they got offers to perform at cafes and for television channels.
“I always wanted to pursue a career in music. We understood that social media is the best way to exhibit and market your talent. Through social media sites we could link our pages to different forums that can expose us to the whole world,” said Sarthak. “It was an only option as we do not have promoters or agents. On the strength of publicity gathered by songs posted online, we got offers to play at events at NH7 weekender- Pune, Hard Rock Café and Blue Frog in Mumbai. We are also recording an album now.”
Like Sarthak, many Mumbai college students are using social media to convert hobbies into careers. They attract offers and orders using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Sound Cloud. In this sense, they are following trends in the west where university students are creating careers by using social media to advertise their talents.
While the Karkare brothers used social media to advertise their musical talents, other students are using the forum to sell clothing, paintings, chocolates, greeting cards and showpieces made from recycled materials. The coming festival season promises a lot of opportunities for Pratiksha Jain, a third year BA student of MU who dabbles in fashion designing. She started posting her garment designs on social media sites through a tag ‘Closet Couture’ and started getting orders for the clothes. “I started my own little business and all I had to do was post pictures of my creations on social media sites. During the wedding seasonand festivals, I get orders from across India, ” said Jain.
Amateur photographers among students, who post their photographs on photo-sharing sites, can attract the attention of commercial photographers who scour social media for content. Zeeshan Syed, a third-year BSc student of St. Xavier’s College, took this route to make some money out of this hobby. “Many of us get exposure through social media as we do not need to send our work to commercial photographers. Most of them are active on these platforms and tap the talent through it. I got a few opportunities to assist them for several commercial events through my page on social media.”
Jyoti Thakur, executive coordinator and former vice-principal of Jai Hind College said, “It is a welcoming trend that students can earn while they are studying. While the students are making efforts to display their talents online, colleges need to encourage them through their entrepreneurship cells and by connecting them with alumni network who can help them flourish business.”