Almost two weeks back on January 31, when Borkung Hrangkhawl, a freestyle rapper from Tripura, was uploading his video on YouTube, he had little inkling of the response it would receive.
In just about a fortnight, BK -- as the rapper is known as -- seems to have hit a goldmine. His video 'The Journey' has notched up close to 7.7 lakh views and has been marked by YouTube as the fourth most watched video across the web.
BK is among the growing tribe of musicians from the northeast who have successfully used the video-sharing website to reach out to global audiences. Many, in fact, bypass the tape release and distribution format, instead preferring to rely on websites like Facebook and YouTube for the instant feedback that they provide. "Through the web, we can tell our story to a wider audience. The way they respond can be an invaluable lesson in shaping ourselves further," says Assamese musician Angaraag 'Papon' Mahanta who has a large fan following on the net.
There are many others from the region who have tapped the power of the net to reach out to fans directly. Like Zubeen Garg whose song 'Runjun Nupure Mate' got about 1 lakh hits last year; Axl Hazarika whose 'Hum Badal Gaye' was viewed more than 4 lakh times and Nagaland-based Alobo Naga who went on to win a popular European music award for best Indian act.
For BK, who is basking in the success of his video's popularity, the thumbs up given by netizens has boosted his confidence considerably. "Crazy man! I can say this only now," he exults. "Being from a small place it is difficult to get a good platform. But I knew that if I concentrated on fresh music, I will be able to reach a good audience through the internet."
Even those who favour live performances as the best way to reach out to fans, acknowledge that the web is a potent platform. Like Naga folk fusion artist Guru Rewben Mashangva. "Live performance has a taste of its own. But then, through YouTube one can reach a large audience which is good," he says adding tongue-in-cheek, "My message to fans is simple :first of all, like the artist on YouTube and then promptly head for his live show!"