KATHMANDU, Aug 1: Nepali folk singers are turning to YouTube, a video-sharing website, more as a platform to promote their songs than for financial returns.
This promotional binge peaks as the season of Haritalika Teej, a festival celebrated by Hindu women in Nepal, approaches.The artists have found in YouTube a new outlet that is both cheap and has a wider reach than traditional media.
Teej songs are uploaded on YouTube months before the festival so as to reach out to as big an audience as possible.
“Before YouTube happened, we had to shell out Rs 25,000 or more to promote a song for the period of a month,” said Badri Pangeni, a folk singer who has recorded two Teej songs this year. “But now we hardly ever turn to the television channels for such promotion.”
Content can be uploaded on YouTube free of cost and shared via other social media as well. Artists use their personal social media accounts to reach out to more people rather than spending on promotion by radio and television.
On the flip side, the earnings from YouTube add up to only Rs 10,000 per 100,000 views. The production cost of a single music video ranges between Rs 200,000 and Rs 500,000.Pashupati Sharma, singer of the popular song 'Malai America yehi', said, “As most YouTube views of songs are from Nepal, there is less revenue compared to views from the US and Europe.”
But popularity on YouTube has indirect benefits.
“Publicity by YouTube lands invitations from event organizers from Nepali communities in various parts of the world from where we can actually earn good money,” he added.
Most artists upload their content from their own YouTube channel whereas some others provide copyright to the YouTube channels that do the uploading. The earnings are later divided between the channel and the artists.
Meanwhile, the Nepali music fraternity has become more open to the involvement of both males and females in Teej songs, which were originally a preserve of women. Male artists are also producing Teej songs now. “Teej songs used to be about women and their troubles and travails, and were meant to be sung by women themselves,” said Komal Oli, a popular folk singer and entertainer talking to Republica. “But these days even male artists are swarming the Teej genre and the empowerment of women is also a theme that is catching on.”
Artists say the audio-visual nature of YouTube makes it a natural choice for them in preference to radio and TV.
Folk singer Oli said Teej songs help maintain continuity in singing careers. Shanti Shree Pariyar, another folk singer, promotes herself through her personal social media handles. “YouTube has flourished everywhere and helped artists with promotion for free,” she said. Like other media, YouTube can also be used to foster awareness . “I go for a personal touch to try and give out positive messages through my songs,” she further added.
'Buhari-2' sung by Tika Sanu and Mansingh Khadka is number 1 in trending music video with 1.4 million views on YouTube as of 4:08 pm on Wednesday. Similarly, 'Suhayo Chaupattai', a Teej song by Pashupati Sharma and other artists published two weeks ago, had 1.9 million views with 25,000 likes on YouTube. Shanti Shree Pariyar's 'Phulmati Chanmati' has 459,000 views with 14,000 likes .
Teej is celebrated by Hindu women and girls with fasting, worship at temples, dancing and singing about life's ups and downs. A door has now opened up just a little for artists to cash in on the occasion.