World Music day
Image Credit: Shutterstock

As we mark World Music Day on June 21, the occasion this year seems just that bit more special with the pandemic gradually receding following the rollout of vaccines.

Also called the Fête de la musique, the day is an annual music celebration first marked in Paris in 1982 thanks to Jack Lang, the Minister of Culture in France, who declared the summer solstice was the perfect time to invite communities to head outdoors and revel in music.

Little did he know that a pandemic would change the way this annual celebration would be perceived and make many like us rediscover our love for music.

How a pandemic brought me closer to music

By Bindu Rai, Entertainment Editor

World Music day
The pandemic saw us rediscover our love for music, cut off from the rest of the world Image Credit: Shutterstock

A few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic became our reality, I found out I was pregnant with twins.

Dealing with the stress of a high-risk pregnancy, coupled with a deadly virus that the world was yet scrabling to contain, music soon became my salvation every time the walls started to close in.

I enjoy a good beat just like your average person, but my consumption was largely dependent on the radio stations I tuned in to during my morning commute to work. When the pandemic reared its ugly head, my life and work was consumed by news: how could COVID-19 spread; who was more vulnerable; what was the daily caseload in the country; were pregnant women more vulnerable?

I’m not quite sure exactly when that turning point came. Was it a rare meeting with the doctor that came with grim tidings or perhaps it was dealing with the news of death and destruction while pregnant with new life?

The pandemic opened up a Pandora’s Box of fears for many like me, forever changing the way we approached life, lived out our daily routines and even the way we consumed music.

Business of music

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Artists such as John Legend performed for Quarantine Concerts to raise money in COVID-19 relief Image Credit: Reuters

The pandemic also remained unbiased in the way it changed the music on a macro level. According to the World Economic Forum, the global music industry is worth more than $50 billion, with two major income streams. The first being live music, which makes up over 50 per cent of total revenues and is derived mainly from sales of tickets to live performances.

The second is recorded music, which combines revenue from streaming, digital downloads, physical sales and synchronisation revenues (licensing of music for movies, games, TV and advertising).

With live performance revenue down to almost zero at the peak of the pandemic, streaming and social media became a lifeline for artists searching for an audience. Quarantine concerts became the term of choice in the industry with artists such as John Legend, Elton John, Billie Eilish, Miley Cyrus and countless others using their social media platforms to do what they did best — sing their hearts out. Only this time, they were not holding concerts to earn money in ticket sales but to raise money for COVID-19 relief.

Services like Twitch, Instagram TV and others catered to an expanded audience, while record labels facilitated it by providing live streaming equipment to performers. Streaming platforms also enabled new monetisation methods, including memberships to artist channels that allowed early or exclusive access to content, as well as virtual gatherings and paid-commenting features.

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The late Miriam Makeba, or Mama Africa, is one of South Africa's most celebrated artists Image Credit: Shutterstock

For the average Jane, aka this writer, this changing tide allowed me to spread my taste in music. Suddenly, not left at the mercy of the local radio station, I was branching out and dipping my toe in sounds beyond the popular. It was one such virtual concert where I stumbled across a track by Miriam Makeba, or Mama Africa, finding the throaty sound of the renowned South African singer strangely hypnotic. I found myself seeking her out on Spotify, even as the husband argued over the progressive sounds of J-pop or Japanese pop music, proclaiming it the new K-pop of our times. And so down the rabbit hole we went with Spotify serving up the world as our own personal stage with changing sounds, languages and rhythms. Our neighbours helped as well, returning to their balcony night after night to strum their guitar while exploring the outer realms of classic rock.

It’s a year later now and the world is gradually returning to a semblance of normalcy.

Hitting the road again
American artists such as the Jonas Brothers are hitting the road once again with a summer tour that has fans excited. Iconic venues like the Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theatre have announced summer schedules; California festivals like Coachella, Hard Summer and Rolling Loud have also set dates for this year or early 2022.
Jonas Brothers in Chasing Happiness
The Jonas Brothers will return to touring in the summer of 2021 Image Credit: GN Archives

This reporter has also returned to work post maternity leave, throwing herself once again to the sounds emitting from the local stations. Yet, the world seems different somehow and so does the sound of music; almost as the pandemic brought the world just that bit closer to rejoice in music once again.


Evolution of music listening platforms: Phonograph to music streaming

By Shyama Krishna Kumar, Pages Editor

World Music day
Vinyl records were one of the first steps in music portablity Image Credit: Shutterstock

It may seem hard to think of a time when we couldn’t access music at the touch of our fingertips or carry entire discographies in our pockets, but if we go back even a decade in time, things looked a lot different in the ever evolving landscape of music consumption.

However, the history of recorded music can be traced all the way back to 1877 with Thomas Edison’s phonograph — also called a gramophone in later forms.

Not even a year later, original records (the ancestors to vinyl) were being mass produced and sold everywhere. Fast forward to the end of the First World War and the early 1920s and broadcast radio started to make its way into mainstream listening, sending record companies to financial ruin and closure.

But it was only in the 1960s that music started becoming portable. The introduction of the Philips compact cassette changed the game when it came to mass production of pre-recorded music tapes.

World Music day
The Walkman, introduced in 1979, put music in our hands and lasted until the 90s Image Credit: Shutterstock

From there, the changes in technology started becoming more quick and drastic. In 1964, the eight-track was released, which meant people could start listening to music in cars.

In 1979, The Walkman literally put music in the consumer’s hand. After 20 years of dominance, cassettes were replaced by the newer compact discs, or CDs. Next, the digital age started to take off. The late 80s brought the MP3 as the first digital means of music consumption. Next, Napster came into play. Then, Apple unveiled the iPod in 2001 and the iTunes store in 2003, solidifying the digital space as the dominant method of music listening.

Today, streaming platforms come dime a dozen with companies like Spotify, Bandcamp, Deezer, Tidal, YouTube Premium and Apple iTunes jostling for space in an overcrowded market, and making sure listeners can access literally any music they could think of at the tip of their fingers.


But as with all technology — most now with a shelf life of a decade or less — don’t be surprised to see a brand new way of enjoying music very soon.


Bollywood singer Armaan Malik aims for global domination

By Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Assistant Editor Features

Armaan Malik
Armaan Malik Image Credit: IANS

When you think of musicians collaborating to come up with new sounds of music, you are likely to imagine them jamming together in a swanky studio or even a grungy garage.

But the post-pandemic reality has upended that dream and has seen singers and music producers marching to a different tune.

Ask Indian pop and Bollywood singer Armaan Malik, who recently joined hands with Korean pop singer Eric Nam and music producer KSHMR to create their song ‘Echo’. The talented trio have never been in the same room together, but they are confident that ‘Echo’ will transcend those bumps.

“No one really expected an Indian pop singer, a K-Pop singer, and an EDM artist to collaborate together. This is the first time, but I hope it won’t be our last … We made this collaboration happen across three continents,” said Malik in an interview with Gulf News.

Armaan Malik, Eric Nam and KSHMR
Armaan Malik, Eric Nam and KSHMR Image Credit:

While Malik did his bit in Mumbai, Eric pulled his weight in South Korea and KSHMR worked furiously from Los Angeles.

“I have not even met Eric and we have only met on our laptop screen just the way you and I are doing the interview now. But I have met KSHMR once when I was in LA! And I have to tell you that technology has definitely played a huge role in our collaboration. The world has become a much smaller place and we have been able to connect better than ever,” said Malik.

While brainstorming and jamming together in the traditional sense did not birth ‘Echo’, they are confident that they have come up with a strong musical output. The pandemic has taught them how to upend the traditional rules of song-making and embrace technology.

“Being in the same room as your other artists is definitely is a huge part of our songwriting process because we tend to feed off each other’s energies … But now we have learnt with ‘Echo’ that all of us artists just need to be on the same page. Everyone should feel heard,” said Malik....

Catch the full interview with Armaan Malik here...


‘I was 10 years when music changed my life’

By Yousra Zaki, Assistant Editor Features

World Music day
A Dubai expat goes down memory lane, talking about how music influenced her childhood Image Credit: Shutterstock

When I was younger. I never realised that I could sing. I hummed along to my cartoons and didn’t think much of it. But it was when I was around 10 years old that music made a massive impact on my life. One day I walked up to my music teacher.

“I think I can sing,” I said to her quietly. I was a very shy kid. And thankfully she gave me a chance. She picked up her guitar and started playing. I sang along and watched her eyes get bigger as she reacted to my singing. When the song ended, she looked at me and said “You have a solo voice! We need to get you on stage.”

I am more confident and outspoken because of it. I will stand in front of an audience and have no problem speaking or performing. In fact, my music got me through this pandemic in one piece.


A month later I was performing in front of the whole school. I don’t remember what song I sang but it had something to do with little mice. I mean, I was 10 and it was the early 2000s, so you know I wasn’t signing Gwen Stefani, but more like cartoon music.

Anyways, it was since then that I began to perform in the school choir. I travelled for concerts and sang my little heart out. As I got older I joined the school band, performed in shows and even bonded with one of the students in the school, who eventually became my best friend and she still is to this day. I started learning the piano, then learned the guitar.

I am more confident and outspoken because of it. I will stand in front of an audience and have no problem speaking or performing. In fact, my music got me through this pandemic in one piece.

These days, I sing to myself in my room or I’ll belt out a few tunes in my car. I don’t post videos on YouTube or write my own songs, I prefer to keep music as a hobby and because of that, it gives me a sense of calm and happiness.