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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Had it been normal times, singer-songwriter Fahmil Khan would have been incredibly busy, perhaps performing at a live show or belting out some soulful tunes at a private gig in town. Most importantly, the Dubai-based musician reckons he would have finished the production of his original song Mujhko Mila De. However, all his plans came to a screeching halt as the Covid-19 pandemic struck and brought the entertainment scene to a grinding halt, making him rethink and find virtual ways to keep his music alive.
"Challenges and lockdown are two words I was least expecting to utter in the same sentence! I had many live performances lined up that were shelved which meant I was dependent on virtual concerts," said Fahmil.
An electronic engineer by qualification, it is his passion for music that led Fahmil to give up his techie dreams and take up music as a career. But it is his tech background coupled with his experience with online performances that kept him engaged during the lockdown.
"I've been blessed to have had the opportunity to perform gigs on social media platforms in Mumbai and Dubai. I also represent a Dubai company as a brand influencer and have organised virtual performances for them. I have reached out to audiences through Zoom sessions in New York, Spain, and other places I may not have been able to if there was no lockdown. I must admit that I've been able to attract a wider audience globally due to the pandemic."
Digital shows come with its own set of challenges some of which Fahmil has yet to come to terms with. "Unfortunately, in virtual performances, you have no quality control over the audio. Moreover, your audience has the option to leave the 'show' whenever they want to. For me, the biggest challenge is not being able to engage with my audience and see their reactions. I thrive on the energy from a 'live' crowd and that's something I find difficult to gauge in a virtual concert."
A self-taught musician, Fahmil started off by organising jam sessions in cafes in the UAE, before slowly moving on to private shows all over the world. While the lockdown may be a stressful time for many artistes, Fahmil has been able to keep himself busy.
"In fact, my biggest accomplishment in these times has been the launch of my original composition Kehta Hai Dil by Zee Music. The song has got a good response from viewers."
Fahmil believes that there are solutions to keep your music alive during the pandemic.
"To be on top of your game in the industry at this time, it all comes down to marketing and networking. You have to keep your music alive by giving as many performances as possible and interact with your audience through various means (digitally). I would suggest artistes record short cover videos of songs and share it (online) so people can get a glimpse of your work and be intrigued to discover you more."
According to the musician, the demand for virtual shows will not die down with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, but he's anxiously waiting to go on stage.
"It will be a blend of both - live and virtual. It will be advisable for the youngest and older audiences to watch shows at home due to health and safety measures. Others, however, will flock back to the arena for live shows, that's where all the action is and I can't wait to welcome them!"
So what has been the takeaway for Fahmil from the pandemic?
"I've focussed on the technical stuff that I wouldn't have otherwise. I have also learned that family time is crucial for your wellbeing and if you work hard and passionately, people will always recognise and support you no matter what! After all, as the saying goes people listen to music in happier times, but they understand the lyrics only during the tough days."
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