#NextBigThing2022: Musician Anirudh Deshmukh Is Ready To Build His Brand

Jan 12, 2022, 14:03 IST

Anirudh Deshmukh

In 2017, Anirudh Deshmukh switched from being an architect to a full-time musician. He has been a regular on Mumbai stages since, but it was not until last year that he exploded. Deshmukh joined Clubhouse in early 2021 and, in just a few months, he launched his now 75k member-strong club where he hosts a nightly show, Late Night Jam.

Within the year, he was chosen to be part of the first cohort of six Indian creators for Clubhouse’s Creator First Accelerator Program and became the first Indian creator to be chosen as an icon for the app. While he had released his debut single Besabriyaan in December 2020, he followed it up with his second original Rehnuma, in May 2021. But, in his own words, he’s just getting started and wants to focus on building himself as a brand in the new year. Excerpts from a chat:

What are your learnings from 2021 to take on 2022?
In 2021, a friend and I were involved in the groundwork during the second wave of COVID. It humbled me. So, as poetic and clichéd as it may sound, I learned that we have only one life. I know we hear these statements daily and we take them very lightly, but when I saw it happening up close, I realised that the little things are actually where I need to invest my time and energy. I still feel stressed and overthink, but at the same time, I am very aware that some things are not that important in the long run.

For a person like me, who used to plan and worry and overthink every little thing, I learned that even if things don't go according to the way I planned them, life will work in funny ways. For instance, I was worried that I wanted to release four more songs after my second original, which I released in May. That was the actual plan. But then Clubhouse happened and other amazing things happened. None of that was planned but it turned out to be way more beautiful than anything I could have ever imagined. So, my biggest learning has to be that somehow you need to trust life, that it also has plans for you. At the same time, enjoy the little things, as poetic as that sounds.

Anirudh Deshmukh

What next? What should we be looking forward to from you?

In December, I performed a live show and, as a musician, I realised this is what I want to do. Not that I don’t enjoy singing Bollywood covers, because they also bring me joy. But, in the end, having a sold-out ticketed show where people come to listen to your songs and sing those lines back to you, that is what keeps me going. 


So, the plan for now is to put out more of my original songs. I released my own songs in the lockdown and then Clubhouse happened. We built a beautiful community there and the way people responded to me was something else. So, the plan for now is to put out more of my songs and keep building the community. I have also been thinking about how I can build Anirudh Deshmukh into a brand.


What are your goals for 2022? How do you plan to achieve them?
My first few original songs are part of a larger story, where every song is a chapter. The goal was to put this entire story out in 2021. So, the first goal for 2022 is to complete this story. And then begin a new one.

Building this community is also very important to me. I realised how beautiful it is when you know that you can make a difference, just by doing what you love. Once you realise that it also does some good to others, it’s a rewarding feeling. When people text me that they were having a bad day, which got a little better after they heard my songs, it feels good. It gives me a sense of purpose. In 2021, I was running after many things. I felt like I was already late. But now I'm very calm. I understand that I am not in it for quick fame or quick success. I want to enjoy every bit of it. Put out one song at a time, make sure it gets what it deserves, and keep building a community.

I also want to do more live shows. I will try my best to do a multi-city tour in 2022 if the new variant doesn’t derail all our plans.

Anirudh Deshmukh

What is that one new thing that you wish to incorporate in your life in the new year?
I want to learn to skate. There’s this person called @hustlerani on Instagram, Ankita Chawla, and she posts amazing and inspiring roller-skating videos. I also want to fix my sleep cycle because I’ve been struggling with it for a long time. And I want to start cooking again.

What does success mean to you?
I say this very filmi line after 2021. Agar sukoon se aap raat ko so sako with whatever you’ve done, then you’re successful. Doing things on my principles and going to sleep peacefully knowing that I did my best, and, waking up and knowing that there’s so much more to do, that is success.

Share one positive thought that keeps you going.
There’s this saying that I believe in — the purpose of life is a life of purpose. I know not everything will happen according to my plan, but I don't want to ever just wake up and say, “Okay, let's see what life has in store for me.” I'm going to plan and be aware that it might still not happen. If I want to release six songs, maybe I'll end up releasing three and something totally different might happen, like Clubhouse. But I want to be clear on what my purpose is, which is that I am doing something that is not only making me happy, but also somewhere helping others. That is not the reason why I do it, but when I’m having a low day, if I get a DM saying my song made someone happy, it makes me smile. Music is the medium through which I meet new people, learn and unlearn from them. That is what keeps me going. People might think that music is the goal, but it's a medium.

I also visualise this scene where I'm in a stadium full of people singing my songs back to me. I work towards that goal every day and this is what doesn’t let me be satisfied with what I’ve already achieved.

Anirudh Deshmukh

One change you want to see in your industry in 2022.
I hope we get done with this idea of a Bollywood musician and an independent musician. Even the indie space has music that sounds like Bollywood and Bollywood has music that they take from independent artistes. So, let’s avoid these unnecessary conversations and I hope we can just call ourselves musicians.

Also, hopefully we get done with putting out the message that becoming a musician is a great struggle. Everyone’s job has struggles. But if we want people to pick up music, we need to change the narrative. I'm not denying that there’s struggle, but we should talk more about how you can win in this industry.

What is the biggest trend or movement you predict in your industry for 2022?

Two things. One I'm scared of, because our attention spans are dropping and how. Any platform that comes up with 30-second previews or hooks of any song will get the new audience engaged to their platform. Because from one-minute videos, we’ve come down to 30 seconds, and then to 15. So, that might be the new thing. I remember when songs used to be six or seven-minute-long. The other day I was listening to Sandese Aate Hain from Border and that song is 10-and-a-half minutes long! Today, songs are mostly two or three-minute-long. We’re told to keep that length. But I’m also glad that there are musicians who do not even think about these things. They just make the song they want. But now that social media has become such a huge part of the music industry, we might be going in that direction. 


And the other thing, which we already saw during the lockdown, is that people have opened up to listening to new music. In the absence of any new movie releases, people went to streaming platforms and heard new artists, and suddenly anyone who was putting out their music had a community. I have a feeling that might stay. I genuinely believe there has never been a better time for a musician to put out their music.