I was reading this article about this young musician, Drew Smith, outsourcing a music video to India, which I found very interesting. I am wondering why it took so long! Drew must have been kissed by the muse of genius while we weren’t looking, what a fantastic idea!
As an avid Bollywood and India fan I love it, of course, but even if I weren’t pagal about everything India, I think it’s a great business that could be generated there and profitable for all parties.
A music video doesn’t have to come out of Bollywood and done by the biggies in the industry, it can be done on a micro finance level, using young talents in India, people who want to make themselves a name and who got a good camera perhaps and ideas unlimited. This is a changed world. And I love it. Pack your suitcase, come with a camera, travel to India, make your music video on a shoestring budget. Don’t drink the tab water, so you can finish your shoot. Come back home, put it on Youtube, get the NYT write about it and become famous. Good for you, Drew! I am sure many more will follow your example.
Members of an Indian dance group perform during the production of Drew Smith’s music video “Smoke and Mirrors.”
Karthik Veera via New York Times News Service
Outsourcing gets creative
• An independent musician discovers it’s no longer just for cost-cutting corporations
By Ben Sisario / New York Times News Service
Published: February 17. 2012 4:00AM PST
Drew Smith found himself in the same position as many independent musicians trying to make a living in the struggling music business. He had no record label to underwrite his career, no publicity machine to get his music into listeners’ hands and not nearly enough money to make a music video.
So he followed the route of big business and outsourced the video to India.
Last October, Smith contracted a dance school in Bangalore, India, to make a video for his song “Smoke and Mirrors” featuring original Bollywood-style choreography and Indian actors dressed as Hindu demigods and tossing colored festival powders.
The production values may be a little amateurish by MTV standards, but for $2,000 it cost a small fraction of the typical budget for a professional film. And Smith has attracted some of music’s most important currency: attention. Since being posted to YouTube on Feb. 2 “Smoke and Mirrors” has been watched more than 179,000 times, and a recent post about it by Smith’s brother became one of the top articles on Reddit, the social link aggregator.
The video is one example of the breadth of outsourcing, which has come to include the kind of highly specialized skills — like microchip design, which IBM contracted to an Indian company in 2005 — that were once considered unexportable.
Companies in the West often claim that while they outsource factory jobs, the creative and innovative work is still done at home.
“You hear so much about big corporations outsourcing,” Smith said by phone on a break from his day job teaching English to immigrants in Hamilton, Ontario. “I was just trying to think of a unique way to release the album and promote it.”
While outsourcing was once viewed strictly as a cost-cutting privilege of giant corporations, it is increasingly available to smaller companies and even individuals.
“Multinational corporations are now more willing to experiment and take risks with outsourcing to India, and, as a result, there is a lot of sophisticated work being done there,” said Shehzad Nadeem, an assistant professor of sociology at Lehman College, and the author of “Dead Ringers: How Outsourcing is Changing the Way Indians Understand Themselves.” “But by sheer numbers it is dwarfed by the more rote and routine work the companies export.”
Entertainment businesses outsource some work, such as nonunion orchestras in Eastern Europe recording film scores, but the bulk of creative work is done close to home and in the hubs of New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.
Smith’s video shows the production technologies available to even the lowest-profile musicians, who now routinely stitch together recordings shuttled across the Internet from home studios around the planet.
“This is where it’s going,” said Adam Dorn, a producer and musician who records under the name Mocean Worker. “People are always going to go where they need to go, and as the major labels crumble and budgets go away, you just have to roll up your sleeves and get things done.”
Dorn himself chose to use a Polish student to do the 1930s-style animation for his video “Shake Ya Boogie” five years ago, after American filmmakers quoted him prices up to $40,000. The student charged him $2,500.
Smith, a soft-spoken 31-year-old who has released two albums of mellow, moody songs vaguely reminiscent of Coldplay, said “the absurdity” of outsourcing his video appealed to him, as well as the reduced costs. He did a quick Web search for virtual assistants — business intermediaries, often from English-speaking countries like India or the Philippines, who will perform almost any task for a price — and was connected to Asha Sarella, a young assistant for hire who also teaches at a dance school in Bangalore.
Sensing a good opportunity, Sarella gathered a few friends and quoted Smith a price that would cover her basic expenses; part of the deal was that Smith would credit Sarella and help promote her work. After paying her half up front, Smith sent the recording and his lyrics, and gave her carte blanche.
“The only thing I requested was Bollywood dancing,” Smith said. “Everything else was up to her.”
Sarella, who in 2005 achieved a modicum of outsourcing fame when she was one of the virtual assistants featured in an Esquire magazine article about exported work, said she welcomed the opportunity to do something more creative than the data-entry work or chores for distant executives that she has typically done as a virtual assistant.
“This is not something easy, not like a database job where they just explain on the phone and the assistant can do it,” said Sarella in a telephone interview from India, where she said inquiries about videos from other Western musicians were keeping her up late.
The video was shot in three days, Sarella said, and the completed film was in Smith’s inbox within three weeks. As the play count on the video started to climb, the promotional effect on his music was immediate. Within two days the song, which he was giving away, had been downloaded 1,000 times.
Smith said he knew that as a white Westerner paying a cheap price for a Bollywood-style film, he might be accused of exploitation or cultural imperialism. He denied both, saying his interest was genuine and that his teaching job had opened his eyes to other cultures.
“I live multiculturalism every day,” Smith said. “A lot of times what is considered hip and cool is only defined by borders. But I found that this translated well.”
Sarella said the project had already benefited her. The influx of potential new clients for her choreography allowed her to quit her job as a virtual assistant.
“I just made a career change,” she said.
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source: bendbulletin.com via NYT news service: 202170367