Singer-composer Sonu Nigam claimed in a video he posted on social media recently that nepotism and favouritism are rampant in Bollywood music industry
Singer-composer Sonu Nigam claimed in a video he posted on social media recently that nepotism and favouritism are rampant in Bollywood music industry

Is music industry run on favouritism? Here’s what singers and musicians have to say

Singer Sonu Nigam claimed in a recent video that the Bollywood music industry is run on favouritism and nepotism. We apeak to some of the most prominent musicians about this and bring you both sides.
By Rishabh Suri and Nikita Deb | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 23, 2020 03:05 PM IST

Nepotism and favouritism — these two words refuse to leave public memory when it comes to Bollywood. The former especially is the current hot word too, social media being abuzz with talks of how preferences come into play, and not talent, when it comes to films. And singer Sonu Nigam dropped one more bomb in his recent video, claiming that this happens in the music industry as well, and newcomer singers don’t get enough chances. 

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You might soon hear about Suicides in the Music Industry.

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On Monday, Nigam posted another video on Instagram. This time, he came down heavily on the bigwigs in the music industry alleging that they are trying to get musicians to speak against him to publications and write on their respective social media accounts. In the video, he claimed that all this is being done to silence his voice, and claims that nepotism and favouritism do exist in the music industry.

We ask musicians about it, and while some say that yes, favouritism is indeed all prevalent, some feel talent trumps all.

Favouritism is the game here

MANOJ MUNTASHIR

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Malik #SambhaalLena #corona 🔗 of the song in Bio.

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Frankly, all is not well. We can’t blatantly deny the power game that runs deep into the nerves of our industry. Singers are the worst affected. They are forced to sign contracts which can beat bonded labour. To bag a film, talent is not the criteria any more. Pressures are mounting up and opportunities are drying up. If we don’t address the situation with utmost urgency, we may be heading towards more Sushants in the days to follow.

JASLEEN ROYAL 

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Working on my selfie game...🤳 Coz #Atmanirbhar

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It’s a business model of the labels to give more songs to their artists, but it’s your choice if you want to sign up or not. Coming from Sonu, it is surprising and shocking, he’s one of the biggest names out there, so him saying this holds some truth. I have had offers to sign up, but I always said I want to work on my own terms, whenever I want to do a song with whomsoever I want. As a label artist, you get more opportunities, but it’s a personal choice

ANKIT TIWARI 

Nepotism is there, but maybe we don’t focus on it much because we have got used to working in such an atmosphere. Favourites hote hain. Priority unki hoti hai jo artists labels ke saath signed hain, ya music company ke close hain, it’s not necessary that they are signed. What happens is, if I sing a song, they won’t say remove this song, they will say ‘Ankit won’t sing it’. You can call this anything, nepotism, favouritism, you find every kind of atmosphere here in the industry.

ARKO PRAVO MUKHERJEE 

The business model of the industry changes every 10-15 years. Now, such a huge number of talent is coming up, not all of them are getting a chance. In case of films it should ideally be the decision of the filmmaker and the music director. But what is happening is sometimes the voice we choose has to be changed, the label insists to use one of their signed singers. I am not questioning anyone’s capability, the signed singers also need new opportunities, but it shouldn’t be limited to them. As a business model, it makes more money if I use my signed singer. If it’s a big hit, his/her price goes up, so does my cut. But that cannot be the whole and sole of it. There are instances where we have been able to hold our ground about a voice, but also some where we haven’t.

SONA MOHAPATRA 

“Unfortunately & sadly,music composers & directors have zero say on who sings their songs.After scores of random rejections on compositions, they’d rather just get a project done with. I respect young Vishal Mishra for having stood his ground to retain my voice in Baby Gold, RARE,” tweeted singer Sona Mohapatra on Monday.

It’s all on talent and merit

JUBIN NAUTIYAL 

What matters is how good you are at your craft. We are in a line where billions judge us for our work, you can’t manipulate a billion minds. You work hard, crack it fair and square, that’s the beautiful thing about artistic work. I am also someone who came from nowhere. Definitely there are rejections, but not just in the music industry, in every walk of life. How you come clean from that is your personality and character, you can’t blame it on the world. Ek insaan itna paisa lagata hai promote karne mein, woh favouritism ke basis pe nahi lagayega. In this line of work, what matters is what sounds good to the ear, otherwise, a Jubin, Arijit Singh or even Sonu Nigam won’t have happened. Unhone kaam karke diya. I am a big fan.

KAVITA SETH 

I am not under any contract with a particular label. I have a very unique voice and the music composers who make songs keeping that in mind, do contact me. I have sung the songs meant for me. Having said that, I have heard this numerous times from my colleagues in the industry. It’s unjust and not acceptable. As an artist we need to get our dues. That’s the only truth.

SHILPA RAO 

Well, as for my experiences I have never gone through this because mostly the composers call me in for a song be it Pritam or VishalShekhar or whoever it is. So, I have just gone in and done my song and I am actually known for not being very visible anyway, I don’t go anywhere and it’s not something that I like to pry into what my lives are but all I can say is I have not gone through this.

SHAAN 

You can call it creating ‘camps’, your own set of rules, but nepotism in music is very difficult. Singing is such a thing, just because your parents sing, it’s not like aapke bhi sur langenge. I agree with Sonu on a lot of parts, at the same time, we should not connect it to suicides or negative things, you have to be strong enough. You should find new avenues, why should you become so dependent on music labels. They obviously have their own policies. Everyone who said ‘nepotism’, there are many who have come and struggled, and gone through the ‘outsider’ bit. At some point, they can’t tell their children ‘Get lost, find another work, because people will blame me for nepotism!’ Today, if I make a song, I will get my son to sing it, it’s convenient. But if the child is incapable, and I still force him down people’s throats, that’s not done. Someone has to accept it. They will get chances once or twice, but there are so many star kids who have been failures, no nepotism helped them.

SASHA TIRUPATI 

Merit does and shall always hold value. It’s about persistence and effort. I’ve been given opportunities by perhaps every music label in the country to sing songs for films in most industries, without being tied up with any particular label and I continue to. I came to the industry with zero contacts, no “godfather” and no backing or influence but my work was recognized and accepted at one point. We all have a journey. That process is different for everybody but it’s unavoidable and necessary I feel. We value our success and our achievements more that way.

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