June Neelu redefines creating, consuming and sharing music

* Johnson Rajkumar

June Neelu

June Neelu
Photo Credit: Boris Oinam

Back in 1906, a music critic, John Philip Sousa wrote in a magazine about some serious implication music talents will get from mechanical reproduction of sound. He predicted that recordings would kill amateur musicians. Sousa's argumentwas also augmented by others critics like Green, Bailey and Davidson saying that common man and amateur musicians are largely alienated from music-making activities. The notion is that many amateur musicians have an elitist view of professional performers. Amateurs are intimidated by music making process because they feel threatened by the technical and creative sophistication of music recording business.

However, the democratization of media by digital technological advancement has created some cracks in dominant paradigm of music industry. One such media is YouTube which has increasingly become a dominant space that give new route to consume,create, and share music for new and talented artist.

One such talented musician from Manipur who have used YouTube to share music to the world is June Neelu. Her musical journey started in a modest way. June never took the much navigated way of recording studios and concerts. Like all other aspiring musician she started singing cover of the songs which she got inspired from. That's when she started to do covers and upload in YouTube. The process is not as simple as it sounds when one look at the nuances of it in new media and digital literacy perspective.

June would download free and basic recording software to record her cover. The usage of free and open software itself translates into a counter hegemonic development against the dominant paradigm of recording industry. By using 200 rupees worth chat microphone to record her covers, she is breaking the stereotypical perception that one need an expensive condenser microphone to get good sound. Technology has opened up doors that lead to skill development where these possibilities were never even considered decades earlier. Once one is digital literate in information age, one's talent itself is the David's sling to create new spaces which otherwise would have been occupied by the Goliaths.

June first posted a cover of Lucky, a duet by Jason Mraz and Colbie Cailat in 2010 for a talent search competition called Project Lotus. Project Lotus is multi-stage talent search to form an English singing, Pan-Asian girl group and to be developed by some of the music industry's top professionals from around the world. The project was initiated by Far East Entertainment based in Hong Kong. She was shortlisted as one of the talent in Asia but she couldn't make it because she couldn't get her passport on time.

However, there is no turning back for her since then. She started posting covers one after another over a time and people started recognizing her talent. Soon her YouTube channel got more than hundreds subscribers and video views rose to thousands. June had an interactive audience that rated and commented on her videos. She had hundreds of comments on most of her videos and she replies to them personally. Thereby, June is creating an interactive content, consistent updates, and a more constant real-time connection with audience.

Her visibility has made many people and musicians recognize her potential. Many other artists started approaching her for collaborative work. Just after seven months of her first cover post, June posted an original single by collaborating with another artist B Maisnam. The original was written, composed, arranged by them. The video was also shot and edited by themselves without any professional hands. Within one year on her first YouTube video, she performed live in Imphal in Nokia Yaoshang Rock fest sharing stage with Parikrama.

For Manipur, June Neelu epitomizes the statement made by Palfrey, J., & Gasser, in their book Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives, "Digital technology gives everyone the means to express themselves, and it empowers them to speak... in ways that previous generations could only have imagined. Creators no longer need to rely on the old gatekeepers like professional agencies, editorial boards, and producers. Digital technology allows creators 'to route around' the traditional intermediaries by using the hardware and software in their dorms and homes."

June musical journey has challenged the traditional idea of amateur and professional musician, musical venue, and audience member. The combination of her talent and proper usage of technologyhas created a heady cocktail of musical creativity that challenges the way we perceive music, musician and audience.

You can follow June Neelu at her Youtube channel here

* Johnson Rajkumar explores a young Manipuri artist journey in new media age at the same time indicating the implication of social media and corporate hegemony.
The writer can be contacted at rajkumarjohnson(at)gmail(dot)com or blog here This profile was webcasted on May 22, 2012


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