Of all the music videos released in the past month, there is one thing in common. No, these videos weren’t made by the same director, nor do they have the same cast and crew. The common thread was that almost all of these videos were funded by Nepalese living abroad.
In recent years, Nepalese living abroad, especially in countries like the United States, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom, are funding music videos in Nepal. People close to the industry say that over 70 percent of music videos are made with money from overseas.
Director Bidhan Karki says the industry maintains itself with funding from people living abroad who love music.
âWithout their love, we would be out of work,â he says. âThe people who understand art are the people who support us. Even those who don’t seem to be helping people during these testing times. “
Like Karki, Naresh Khadka, another director, also shoots many music videos with money from other countries.
âThere are people who are close to music. They keep music close to their hearts and they are the ones who help singers spread their music, âKhadka explains.
Karki and Khada say most of the work they’ve done over the past few years has only been possible with money coming from the United States or Australia.
But, are investors getting a return on their investment? Not really, and they’re not expecting a return either, say industry insiders. So why do they keep investing in music videos?
A quest for the Nepali
Karki, who is also president of the Nepal Music Video Directors Society, explains that most of the people who invest in the Nepalese music industry are people in search of their identity that they most often feel like they have. lost due to years of living abroad.
âThey fund videos because they want to be close to Nepal. Some just want their name to appear on a video that will be viewed over a million times, âsays Karki.
Apart from that, they also help talented singers and songwriters to help them in their musical careers. âIt’s pretty nice, to be honest,â Karki says.
Roshan Adhikari has lived in the United States for 13 years and has been actively involved in music video financing for the past three years. Adhikari also sings and has started acting in his own music video as well. Because someone who has always wanted to sing has now found the time and the finances to make their dreams come true.
âWhen I was in Nepal, the environment was not favorable. Now I also have the support of my family, which makes it easier now, âsays Adhikari. âI want to bring something to the Nepalese music industry.
The first music video he invested in was Jhyalko Parda, in which he sang and acted. After that he was involved in four more projects like this, investing up to Rs 1 million in each. He doesn’t want a return on his investment. He just wants his name and his face as he aims to release at least one song every six months.
Unlike Adhikari, Prakash Ghising who lives in Australia doesn’t sing or act. But, he still invests his money in music videos. Over the past year he has invested in three music videos one of which has been released while more will be released in recent months.
“I have no vested interest,” says Ghising. âI want to help the music industry grow while providing space for upcoming singers and models. I also plan to produce a long-term feature film.
It’s not that the investment doesn’t come from Nepal. Directors and people in the industry say that around 30 percent of music videos are funded by Nepal, with most of the investors being the singers themselves. But, this trend has stopped because of the Covid-19.
The reason many are saying is the lack of shows they are getting. Without live performances, these singers rarely win and this has kept them from investing in music videos.
âMaking a music video doesn’t come cheap,â singer Hemanta Sharma says. âEven if I invest it, with the lack of shows, where do I go to perform and get a return on that investment? “
Bhumika Giri, a few months ago, released her song Teej. But, she didn’t release a video. She, like Sharma, says that due to the lack of live performances, it makes no sense to invest millions of rupees in music videos. There are companies and producers who help these singers, but the videos they make for a singer are not entirely owned by the singer as they are shown on the companies’ YouTube channels.
Beginning singers think they need to have a music video to be popular and therefore produce one, spending up to Rs 1 million. Directors also say that there are a few who are doing it just for fun while others are doing it hoping to get a return on their investment in the years to come.
âFor new singers, having an instant impact is important. That’s why they need to have music videos and spend so much on them, âsays Kajish Shrestha, a music video maker.
There have also been examples of people investing money to make their partners’ dreams come true. These people don’t even want their names on the clips. They just want their loved ones to be happy and show how much they mean to them.
The case of loss
There is a singer who spent around Rs 800,000 to shoot a music video once. After that, she invested in nine more music videos. Since she mostly uses popular actors on them, she’s also spent a lot on promotion in the hopes of getting some sort of return from them.
âI spent almost Rs 10 million on these videos. But, regarding the return, I earned less than Rs 200,000, âshe said, asking to remain anonymous.
Despite this, she is still working on the creation of a new video as she thinks she needs to invest if she is to make a name for herself in the Nepalese music scene.
Likewise, there is a man who loved to play but, for various reasons, never got the chance. In an effort to make his childhood dream come true, he went to a music video director and asked to be chosen. In response, he was told he had to invest around 500,000 rupees to be in the video.
âI felt it was a no-brainer, because if the video worked well, I would get other offers as well. That’s why I paid. But, very quickly, I realized that I had been cheated, âhe says.
He hasn’t starred in any other video other than that. When he approaches directors, most tell him what his first director told him: invest if you want to be a part of the video.
âIt’s not worth it,â he said.
According to the Music Video Director Society, 10 clips are released each day. The annual number reaches more than 3,500. To make a video, you need at least Rs 300,000 and if you want a popular face, it exceeds Rs 500,000.
The company estimates that around Rs 1 billion is spent annually on the production of these clips. But, out of more than 3,000 videos, only 10% get a return on investment. The reason: many music videos depend on the revenue generated by YouTube. And, not everyone gets the views they need to get their money back. Some directors say that investing in music videos is like putting water in the sand.
Shiva BK, a popular folk music video maker, says it’s rare for a music video to get its comeback. âFor a video to make money, we need it to go viral. Otherwise the video won’t make music, âsays BK.
Concern for quality
If the number of music videos produced is high enough, their quality, on the other hand, is mediocre. Nowadays, a music video can make or break a singer. There have been various examples of a singer’s song going viral because of the video, while there have also been examples of people disliking a song because of its video.
Lyricist Krishna Hari Baral says that there are people who don’t understand the meaning of the song and make a video, regardless of the things said in the song, and that kills the song for a lot of people.
âThere has to be some kind of understanding,â Baral says.
Ramesh BG, president of the National Folk and Duet Song Academy Nepal, said that if the quality of the music videos did not increase, the songs would not be a success. He says that too many people are involved in making a video, things can get a little out of hand, resulting in poor quality videos.
Create employment opportunities
Yes, there are a lot of negatives associated with music videos, but there are some positives as well. The first is that it has created job opportunities for a lot of people. It employs makeup artists, dancers, models, technicians, musicians and studio staff. At a time when the economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, this has been a boon to many.
âOne person’s investment creates jobs for so many people. This has helped sustain the video industry even during such difficult times. We should be grateful, âdirector Bidhan Karki said.
He says people shouldn’t criticize them because these people are just following their passion.
âEveryone wants to do something else. I think people should just let it go.