GOING ON TOURS, playing gigs and selling CDs are the survival tactics of independent bands and musicians in many countries, but not here in Hong Kong. To deal with this reality, local indie musicians have to struggle to find a way to support themselves while keeping faith in their music. Take musician Kean Tse, who returned to Hong Kong and started to work in the music industry four years ago. He now relies heavily on session-playing jobs and teaching guitar. In 1999, he released his first solo album Man And Nature, and last month his band Arcadia released their self-titled debut EP. 'I didn't do it [releasing records] to make money,' says Tse, who is also the guitarist in the funk R&B band Brother's Keeper. 'I just want to create, to share and express my feelings and to contribute something to the local rock scene. 'If I did only that to make money, it would really be a bad decision.' Newcomer Wong Cham-hei has a similar experience. He was spotted by an indie record label and made a debut album begins..., which was released at the end of last year. 'Being a musician in Hong Kong, you got to have 'blind faith', you can't think about money,' says guitarist Wong, aka Ah Hei, who toured the territory over the past couple of months, and caught people's attention by releasing his music on the Internet. 'If you do, you will give up and walk away very quickly,' he adds. In fact, in recent years, musicians and bands offering original music and more variety have spiced up the local indie music scene, which has so far been dominated by rock and heavy metal bands and cover versions. And musicians such as the Pancakes, Arumimihifumi and Chet Lam Yat-fung and bands like LMF have successfully captured public attention. However, according to musicians and indie record labels, the market for indie music has not grown, even though music fans can access indie music easily on the Internet and the scene has gained more coverage in the mass media. Tse thinks the market-oriented local music industry is to blame for the present state of affairs. 'Karaoke kills [the local music scene],' Tse says. 'The music people are exposed to on the bus, on TV and radio is so commercial. It is all karaoke-friendly music - melodic, harmonic and easy-listening, but musically not very deep. 'Everything is so much the same now and no one dares to take the risk to experiment and do something different.' However, Ah Hei is optimistic about the development of the indie music scene in the SAR. 'At the moment, it may not be on the right track, but I believe it could find the right direction and the scene will improve,' he says. The mainland will be the future for local indie bands and musicians, Tse thinks. 'We need to begin on a small scale, playing shows from city to city and selling CDs. 'In Hong Kong, you can't survive by touring,' he says.