• Vasundhara Vee


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Photo Credit : Christian Wiedeger

Can I despise Badshah’s move to appear more popular than Taylor Swift? Can I look down on it in any way? I felt hurt by this allegation because I wanted to feel that there is a legit superstar emerging from my country. That, in some way, our “non-standard” music is making its place on the international music map.

But let’s not hurry to sit on our high horses. Let’s not get distracted by a celebrity’s misconduct and use it to play a surface blame game. Because if any of this is true, he would only have done at a bigger scale, what many young independent musicians are doing today. This is not about Badhsah, this is about us.

It’s no joke that two of the top searches on the internet in our segment are for how to get ‘free Instagram followers’ and ‘How to become famous’. How to become famous has become something that keeps so many young musicians awake at night. A lot of little rigs and hacks in the online world are making fame a mere appearance. And somehow, the young musician is becoming quite comfortable with Fame that is bought but not earned.

BEFORE the internet, Greatness and Fame were a lot more closely linked. A lot of the work had to happen on ground. And the only answer to how to become famous was to rip the show apart every night, make a real impact and gather people who would follow you, buy your work and name their children after you.

Today, rather than using the internet as a tool to promote ones hard work, one's genius, one's genuine artistry, it's become an immature game of how to become famous, how to merely hack into an algorithm, how to become 'instagram famous', and how to get likes no matter the method. Unlike five or seven years back, today it's quite clear to all creatives, that an illusion of fame can be bought.

Can we separate real fame from the illusion of fame ?

I would say yes. At a very simplistic level, everyone knows this. If you see a page with 11k followers but hardly any real engagement on the posts, you know straight up that the numbers are bought. The modern musician or creative individual might know this, and still opt for a decision like this! Why? What value does an inflated number really hold?

Here's the simple answer.... the only value it holds is that unsavvy people will consider you important. That gullible people will imagine you to be influential. Someone who doesn't know better, will think you are famous.

When a certain scale is achieved, people begin to charge companies money to feature and endorse products and services. Inflated numbers and followers that don't have real individuals behind them - then become part of a really big lie. It's at this point when a scam that was a scam all along, earns the name of a scam.




There are legitimate and established steps to growing a following. There are also innovative new ways popping up every few months to add to the list of time tested strategies. Placing an ad or boosting a post or starting a paid campaign is an age old practice. But the idea of cheating the system has increasingly caught on as well amongst the restless young artists who almost seem to feel that their core offering is inconsequential and everything is based on either marketing or hacks.

One of the biggest earning pop artists in the United States has a well researched and documented ON-GROUND METHOD of expansion which was then supported and boosted by an excellent online strategy. We are still in a world where method works. We are still in a universe where authenticity and good strategy can bring you a Grammy.




It's absolutely fine to seek recognition for your hard work.

But can you be an influencer without being an expert in something? Can you influence without experience? Can you be a legend without having anything of true value to offer?

If you think only the so called "mindless" music sells, then why is Jacob Collier so big today? Why did Hiatus Kaiyote or Thundercat create a dent in the universe? Why is Vulfpeck great and world famous without a label? Why is Sting still leaving young people breathless?

Did we allow some negative rants about the quality of successful music these days to become an excuse for us?

Did it blind us to all the great work that is also making it big?

I don't care what Badshah did but I deeply care about the culture of our independent music and our upcoming musicians. If anything, this controversy only stirred a ethical pond that was beginning to get muddy. Let all of us pay close attention and structure our growth in a way that helps us gain true pride, true self worth and the satisfaction of a proper self-made success.

There is a way to start. There is a way to re-align your journey. And I, with the support of some of the top names in the Indian Music Industry, have broken it down in the book BIG DREAMS, BOLD CHOICES : Handbook for emerging professional musicians in India.


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