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It can cost anywhere between ₹50 lakhs to ₹25 crore to get an FM station license in India. Naturally, it’s an arduous and expensive affair to see your dreams reach fruition.
Chhavi Sachdev, a freelance radio journalist who contributes to the BBC, German Deutsche Welle Radio and the American Public Radio International, says, “I don’t think radio has had a personality since 2008. If anyone wants to give the masses something different, they have to do it through a different medium, as the mainstream players are too risk averse.” Mae Mariyam Thomas – host of the indie music podcast Maed in India – who has worked for more than a decade as a radio presenter echoes the sentiment. “I discovered music on the radio growing up, and I think we may have lost that. It’s very rare to be risky to on commercial broadcast media, and you have do things that make you money,” she says.
With Bollywood music ruling programming roost, Indian independent music has been largely ignored, although several have tried to change the dynamics (see box).
Conversely, the rise of homegrown talent has been fast, wide and highly impactful. Sahej Bakshi aka Dualist Inquiry, says, “There is a dearth of a distribution channel solely for independent music.” He felt the need more than ever after the release of his album Dreamcatcher in 2016. “I knew the music had gone to everyone who heard my previous work but I wasn’t sure if I managed to uncover new audiences,” he says.
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