How Dubai-based singer Fahmil Khan's music pulsated across the globe
The singer-songwriter explains how he used social media platforms to zoom in on global audiences
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 several live performances lined up that were shelved due to the pandemic which meant I was now dependent only 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. During this time, I have reached out to audiences through Zoom sessions in New York, Spain, and other global venues that 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 around the world due to the pandemic."
Digital shows come with its own sets 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 has been not being able to engage with the audience and seeing their reactions. I usually thrive on the energy from a live crowd and that's something I have been finding difficult to gauge in virtual concerts."
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 perhaps have been a stressful time for many artistes, but Fahmil found things to do to keep himself going.
"In fact, my biggest accomplishment during this time has been the launch of my original composition Kehta Hai Dil by Zee Music. The song has got a great response from viewers."
The singer offers a few tips on how to keep your music alive during this period.
"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 virtual performances as possible. Interact with your audience through various means (online). 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 enough to discover more of your music."
Fahmil feels that the demand for virtual shows will not die down even after Covid-19 restrictions end, and he's anxiously waiting to go on stage.
"It will be a blend of both - live and virtual. It would be safer for younger and older members of the audience to watch shows online from home due. Others could, however, flock back to the arena and enjoy the energy of live shows. That's where all the action is and I just can't wait to welcome the audience!"
So what has been the takeaway for Fahmil from the pandemic?
"Firstly, it changed my focus towards the technical side of performing music, something I wouldn't have done otherwise. I have also learnt that family time is crucial for your wellbeing. Also, 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 the lyrics only become more meaningful during your tough days."