TThe Internet became the biggest platform for many new and emerging talents around the world, especially during the Covid pandemic. Mansa Pandey, a 26-year-old independent music artist in Delhi, India, was left without concerts as the pandemic closed restaurants, pubs and all other avenues for live performances. From then on, she decided to start singing covers and posting videos on her Instagram page. As more people started watching and enjoying her content, she gradually became one of the most loved voices on Instagram in India. Her cover of “You Jhoom” — a collaboration between Naseebo Lal and Abida Parveen in Coke Studio Season 14 — has over 43 lakh views.
Although the versions of the songs and the performances were forever As part of the music industry, they became popular and revolutionized through platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram in the last decade alone.
The thing about Reels is that once you have a catchy song, thousands will use it for their content. And even if you haven’t heard of Mansa Pandey, you would have heard her voice if you’re on social media.
‘Ghar se nikalte hello’
Mansa Pandey’s journey to fame began when Ehsaan Noorani of the trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy compiled a playlist featuring artists he came across on his Instagram Live sessions during lockdown. In an interview with The Rolling Stones, he said, “There is a girl named Mansa and she is from Nainital. He had never heard of her, and apparently he was on the verge of not wanting to go on with her music and her stuff like that.”
When Noorani asked him to sing at an Instagram Live session, he was stunned. The event marked the beginning of a new journey for Pandey, who says he would always remember it as a significant moment, as he started singing covers more often.
It was in 2011 that Pandey’s professional life began. Leaving Nainital, her hometown, she went to Delhi to pursue a career in music. She says, “I started learning Hindustani classical music and performing on weekends.” The first few months of performing live went well for him, as there weren’t many artists playing live. The trend had not yet picked up pace in popular circles. The scenario changed very soon: social media contributed greatly to the uptick as people and artists started sharing story updates, live streams, and the popularity increased. Starting with Snapchat, the hype spread to Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, attracting a larger audience than ever before. It led to the rise of more artists willing to give the microphone a try despite being paid only a quarter of the standard amount.
“I had to do 4-5 shows a week to support myself. After Instagram, I’ve had better jobs,” says Pandey. Covers can make you big on social media, but there has to be more to it than that if you want to stay in the industry. “You can get opportunities based on your covers, but after that, where you start your journey is up to you,” she adds. And some have seized on that opportunity, transforming humble beginnings into a global presence.
From internet stardom to world fame
One of the best known Indian singers who rose to fame for her covers is Vidya Vox. The YouTuber rose to fame when hers “Closer x Kabira” — a mix of The Chainsmokers song and the Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013) Classic – Became popular on multiple platforms. The other, more recent, ismelt into my touch”, original single from the artist.
In February, when Coke Studio’s season 14 song “Pasoori” ranked third on Spotify’s Viral 50 chart, Pakistani singers Shae Gill and Ali Sethi became household names. Gill, a 23-year-old artist, rose to massive popularity for her Instagram versions of her. Today, “Pasoori” has more than 100 million views on YouTube. The song is now also being actively recreated as covers and reverb versions in India and has become a favorite Instagram story.
a democratic space
Just like in the 2017 movie. secret superstar, the Internet can be the leveling ground when it comes to equal opportunity. “I know people near my hometown, towns and smaller places who are able to get their music out there thanks to social media platforms and getting jobs,” says Mansa Pandey.
Ehsaan He says, “I realized that there are many singers and musicians who wanted to show their talent.” What better space than the Internet? Not everyone has the means to make the trip to “dream” cities like Mumbai or Delhi and meet music producers and showcase their music. The Internet gives everyone the opportunity to connect not only with the songwriters but also with the audience.
Music has no borders and neither does the internet. The ubiquitous quality of the Internet allows local music to travel around the world and allows global trends to penetrate even remote corners. “Because of how viral my ‘You Jhoom’ The cover story was that I even got offers from Pakistan, at least 29 of them, for live performances,” says Pandey.
However, today’s generation doesn’t just sing, they write their own songs and create their own music. “Now I have started to see women learning music production. Even five years ago, there were only a handful of women learning to arrange their own music,” Pandey adds.
As the world opens up post-vaccination, there are new opportunities for travel and live performances. Mansa Pandey says: “A true musician is not blind to political and geographical borders. But at the same time, he doesn’t impede her journey of learning and spreading music far and wide.” She also wants to write her own lyrics for her, create music and travel the world with her.
(Edited by Humra Laeeq)