Ujjwal Bhattarai talks the music industry, persistence and coming to the US
Moving somewhere new would be difficult for anyone, but moving across an ocean to pursue a dream is something few can relate to.
On Aug. 17, 2017, Nepali native Ujjwal Bhattarai landed in the United States, ready to become a singer. Though he faced challenges in getting his visa to come to the U.S., even failing once, Bhattarai said that the difficulty in coming to the country made the move even more intriguing for him.
“There was a spark in me that wanted to get it going, challenge the world and pursue my career in music. I used to sing from when I was very little, and I studied very hard,” Bhattarai said. “My first priority was education because I’m here on visa. Music was always in the back of my head. I had bands back home, and I used to perform all the time.”
Although he is majoring in information technology, Bhattarai often finds himself in the School of Music singing and practicing piano. While performing was only a dream back home, he said the music industry in the U.S. is better for his pursuits than in Nepal.
“The United States is a developed country, and Nepal is not. The music industry in Nepal is not that great,” Bhattarai said. “Here, the chance is bigger. The lifestyle is bigger. You make it big. You hit it big. You become big.”
In hopes of “making it big,” Bhattarai has tried out for two national singing competitions in the United States—America’s Got Talent and The Voice—but did not get called back for either. He said they both required documents that he did not have, but he auditioned anyway.
Despite his inability to participate in these competitions, Bhattarai continues to chase after his passion for music, recognizing the now many avenues to stardom.
“There are a lot of other ways to succeed. There’s no shortcut to success, although reality shows do help struggling artists commercialize their talents,” Bhattarai said. “In the end, it’s about who wants it more and who is at the right place at the right time.”
Music business professor José Ruiz agreed that participating in national competitions is not the only way to succeed musically.
“It’s more probable for you to establish a lasting career—a fulfilling career—in the music industry if you take it step-by-step as opposed to exposing yourself at a national scale and then getting opinions of three people who may not even be looking for what you have to offer,” Ruiz said.
Despite his misfortune with televised talent competitions, Bhattarai said that he has grown as a person in his pursuit of music in the United States through finding his musical identity.
“I don’t try to impress people anymore. I just try to sing as much as I can,” Bhattarai said. “I need to learn how to convey my message into my writing and my music. That’s the hardest part of being a musician. It doesn’t matter if you don’t blow up. If satisfaction, happiness and education mix up, they really make a person successful on the inside.”
Ruiz said that musicians often struggle with what Bhattarai has been working at: conveying who they are in their music.
“First and foremost, people need to embrace their identity and discover their identity. Only then can you pursue your purpose in life, and then you can express your purpose in life through your role,” Ruiz said. “There’s more of a philosophical issue that lies for why people do not make it in the music industry, and it’s because they’re trying to pursue a role without even knowing their purpose.”
Senior music education major Monica Wright believes that, in addition to practice and knowing your purpose, a significant part of the trail to success as a musician is networking.
“In order to succeed, you have to know people,” Wright said. “It’s important to start performing at random venues for free and start getting to know people and start making connections. But also, it’s crucial to truly care about others.”
Recognizing this, Bhattarai has been working on his networking with people in the United States. He said he sees importance in building relationships with others and to expand his reach, not only in Nepal but also in the United States.
“I just want to spread my voice all over the world,” Bhattarai said. “Success comes to those who hustle. It’s not about, ‘I need to get it perfect the first time.’ My mom says, ‘The more you try, the more you get experience, the better you become. And then you get there.’”
To learn more about Ujjwal Bhattarai and his music, visit his YouTube channel here.