Rajitta Hemwaani is a name that needs no introduction in the world of media and entertainment. With an career spanning over 20 years. Having worked with Tips Industries, Universal Music Group, Star TV Network, Reliance Entertainment,Times Music, AB Corp amongst others. She is one of the few women in entertainment who have specialised in content and business development across Films, Music ,Radio & Television. Rajitta has always worked on what she believed in and never taken the comfortable route. Currently she is Sr. VP, Content at 9x Media and responsible for their Artist division, the shows 'Smash Ups' and the latest SpotlampE. Raga to Rock caught up with Rajitta Hemwaani, who was good enough to take time out from her busy schedule to talk to us about her career and latest assignment.
Tell us about your career so far..
I started my career with Tips Industries as Chief Manager Content and Marketing. Then I did a brief stint with AB Corp, Ltd as Head-Content. In 1997 I joined Times Music as Asst.VP and spearheaded their content and business strategy for ten years. I was responsible for some of the company's most successful discoveries like Dj Suketu, Jassi, Indian Ocean, Bombay Rockers, Raghav, Dj Akbar Sami, Whosane, Nasha and many more! Her disruptive and clutter breaking ideas showed in properties like The War of the Djs which became a cult event in the country for nearly a decade, giving India some of its biggest Djs, and starting the massive remix movement. I also conceptualised and produced music for the some of the most respected names in the business like AR Rahman, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Gulzar, Abida Parveen, Ghulam Ali, Jagjit Singh, Lata Mangeshkar, Pritam, Hard Kaur, Juggy D, Anu Malik, Asha Bhosle, Bohemia, Rishi Rich and the long list goes on. A brief stint with Reliance Entertainment and then I joined Universal Music Group as Vice President-Content, where I was responsible for content acquisitions and creation and annual business targets from content. Then another brief stint with Star TV Network and audioBoom, before I joined 9x Media as Sr. VP, Creative Content & New Business.
What was your mandate at 9x Media?
At a meeting with Pradeep Guha-MD, a question that came up was, why cant a music TV channel do what a music label and talent management company do, when we have so much more to offer? So it was a decided to give me the liberty to use my experience and create shows with ideas and formats that linger on for their individuality rather than depend only on individual talent and regular film song releases.
Tell us how did the Artist Managment division of 9x Media come about?
The first task was, as no music channels have signed talented upcoming musicians here in India...and it seems mostly to be the domain of a music label...the first thought was, we own multiple music screens across languages like Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, English and a reach of over 230 million. What stops us from choosing those gems ourselves and create content for them which then is blasted on our screens and working towards creating tomorrow's superstars. Hence came up the Talent Management division of 9x Media that extremely carefully chooses the talent it wished to mentor and launch.
How has the show Smash Ups been doing?
Our property show Smash Ups took off on 9xM in 2017 and has also been added on to 9X Jalwa, 9x Tashan and now 9x Jhakkas. We gave the deserving and talented DJs a play of ten times a day for over a week each to showcase their mixes to our viewers. Extremely successful, Smash Ups moved from ace DJs and producers like Aqeel, Suketu, Kiran Kamath, Rishi Rich to giving the highly under rated women DJs across the country a chance to showcase their talent. DJ Rink, Shilpi Arora, Ashrafi, Paroma & Shireen Aida Khan lead that list. With over 30 DJs on our roster, we decided to move on to the indie DJs based across the world to give India a dose of their talent and them a window to showcase their talent to millions!
Tell us about SpotLampE?
Having set Smash Ups in place, the next has been a very interesting show I am actively working on now, SpotLampE. SL is a platform that offers its multiple channels to showcase original music not only by new talent but also by the more established names in Bollywood. Everybody, be it a well known singer or composer wants to see his own original composition featuring him to reach out to the world. Thats where SL comes in. I am currently working with some of the best names in Bollywood and some of the most talented newcomers to launch their originals on various platforms. We started off with Bappa Re by Shankar Mahadevan, launched during Ganesh Chaturthi to an amazing response. Followed by Busy Busy by new singer Neha Pandey. And a stream of massive releases lined up month on month.
What are you other plans?
That I can't share with you as of now...
A person who is never content with what she has done, Rajitta is sure to be on the lookout for the next should be what??? already running inside her creative mind. Knowing her track record, its certainly gonna be a cracker of an idea! So here's wishing her all the best and eagerly looking forward to her her next.
The Artist Management scene has seen unprecedented growth in the last few years and showing a continued uptrend. Raga to Rock caught up with Anurag Rao, Founder of Canvas Talent Co. who has in his roster some of the biggest Actor/Singers in Bollywood, including the likes of Farhan Akthar & Ayushman Khurana. Anurag Rao has a long history with Music , he was the Guitarist with the band Pythagorus & the Right Angles, A&R head at MTv, Head at Reliance Big Fm before he decided to set up his Artist Management company. Here Anurag shares his views on Artist Management, Artists, Music and the way ahead.
Tell us how Canvas Talent Co. came about?
I had spend about 7 to 8 years at MTv, my primary role was Artist Management, Artist Development & Programming, so when I moved out I got pulled by Reliance Big FM, which took around 2 years to set up but by the time I had lost interest. We started off in 2006-2007 and would look out for Event opportunities and sign new artists. Most of the Artists in those days had secretaries or agents. Even though we had the Knowledge & Knowhow to help develop an Artist, there were deterrents and people who would not let you help the Artist. Then I started Canvas Talent Co. with Fardeen Khan & Zahid Khan, friends from back in the days, when I got into doing events.
What did you learn when you started off?
It was a rough start but the relationships in the Film & Music Industry are crucial. We did gigs and we learnt it was not easy to make a profit organizing events. It was a ‘Peoples Business’, it was all about relationships and these relationships counted when we started off. Also those days you had to be politically correct and play ‘Good cop Bad cop’ so you could make your bread and butter or living as a sole operator.
How did you get Farhan Akhtar on board?
Farhan came much later in my life. I knew Farhan from his ‘Dil Chata Hai’ days then along the way became friends somewhere in 2012, when Maa Durga happened Farhan wanted to set up an initiative with gender equality, he started M.A.R.D (Men against Rape & Gender Equality). I was having a telephonic conversation and he mentioned he wanted to bring awareness to MARD, that’s when we started working together. We got Salim–Suliaman to create a song ‘Chu lien Aasman’ and we tied up with an NGO HNGO (Helping Women get Online), we did a 6 city tour across colleges. This initiative got us the Channel V award that year. This is where it all began.
Why do you think there is a need for Artist Management?
I realized that the Artists were not able to achieve success or stardom as some of them did not look out for the right representation and some of them don’t know how to find the right representation. There are Management companies that have come a long way, OML (Only Much Louder) being one of them is the best with Independent Music and I don’t think that anyone who has done that kind of stuff but again they went into the Event space. They have managed to develop a few acts.
What is the change you would like to see in the Artist Management scene?
The change I would like to see in the Artist Management scene is from the Artist side. Unless the Artist feels
a) there is a need for them to develop
b) there is a need for his sound to be more cooler & hipper
c) more competitive compared to what is happening out there
or else they will be stuck with Booking Agents cause they want Live shows.
The Music business is not only about Live shows, you will be able to make more if your Music is reaching out to other parts of the world touching few thousand people elsewhere also. The thing they are not realizing is that it is not about the Music only anymore. It is the experience and the experience not only comes from the Music you create but also comes from who you are as an individual, what part of you is in your Music. It is cause of this experience that the listener would want to put the Song on repeat play, want to go get your Merchandising and get you engaging with fans. You could have a #1 hit and still be broke Live Musician.
What do you think is the weakness in the Artist Management space?
The only possible gap in the eco-system is the lack of A&R which is a key factor to what the Artists become. Some Artists want to do Live, Live, Live…and not interested in developing themselves and some of them may not have the capabilities to develop an Act and might not understand what it takes and probably that only comes from the experience of being in the Music business and that could be a few decades.
What do you think of the other Artist Management companies?
Most of the Artist Management companies are doing a great job, most of them have come up in the last 5-8 years, and their Artists are happy and as long as they are happy, the company is happy obviously they are doing a good job with the Artist. We also deal with other Artist Management companies hence we know they are doing a great job with the Artists they have.
Ranjit Barot is the only indian rated among the top 100 Drummers in the world by Drum Magazine, on the threshold of his latest concert 'Transcendence' with the ambassador of Kanjira Banglore Amrit, we take a download of the conversation with the event organizer Rajshekar Srinivasan on the Drums, concept of the event and his tribute to Buddy Rich.
Hailing from a traditional classical music family, why did you chose a western instrument, the drums?
It’s as much a mystery to me as anyone else. I was surrounded by Tabla’s, Sitar, vocals and of course, dance. Maybe going to a western school and being exposed to rock music, then taking part in an impromptu music competition and winning had something to do with it. Till that competition I had never played the drum set. Once the performance got over, I knew this was something special that had me out and would be a big part of my life in all the years to come.
What are his experiences with the Jazz world?
I was inducted into the world of jazz by Maestro Louiz Banks, the legendary jazz pianist. I’m 1980 I performed with him as a part of the Jazz Yatra sextet, featuring jazz musicians as well as Carnatic musicians. This was most fortuitous as I was exposed to improvisational jazz music and Carnatic music simultaneously. We performed at the Jazz Yatra in 1980 and in 1981 toured Europe with the band. This was a huge learning experience for me. Having grown up in India playing an instrument that I didn’t have much educational access too, the tour allowed to watch some of the greatest drummers in the world, thus giving me a glimpse into what the possibilities were in regards to this magnificent instrument we call the drum set.
How is the taal based Indian system of percussion unique from western drumming ?
The north and south taal system is a highly revolved rhythmic system, unparalleled in its beauty, poetry and complexity. While odd time meters and even complex interpretations of rhythm have found their way into western classical music and in the works of the late Frank Zappa, a visionary contemporary composer, the drum set still relies on a more symmetrical approach in some aspects of rhythm. Mind you, drummers like Virgil Donati have stretched the boundaries of what is possible on the drum set, and there are many drummers worldwide who are master jazz players, deeply schooled in the art of improvisation, who play within a frame work and yet are unpredictable. I must mention that the number of drummers gravitating to the Indian system of rhythm are growing exponentially day by day.
Something about Buddy Rich and how he has inspired you as a drummer?
He was the greatest drummer of his time. He had technique and imagination, the two key ingredients at being a great musician. He exploded on the scene, at a time when things were a little more conservative as far as the instrument went. In contrast he was full of musical bluster and a full throttle approach to music and his instrument. This is something I identify with deeply. You eventually play like who you are. All your attributes, deficiencies and aspirations are revealed when you truly surrender to the moment and your instrument. It’s like a veil is removed and what you are and what you play merge. The sound you create is you. Buddy had that ability in spades.
How different is this tribute going to be from other collaborations you have been associated with?
Well, you try and tip your hat to the master and put yourself in a place where you try and tap into the spirit of who you’re paying tribute to. Therefore every tribute is special and different.
Have you been able to get your percussion expertise and virtuosity into the main stream Bollywood.
Absolutely. I’ve rarely pretended to be anything but who I am on my instrument, no matter what the context may have been.
Who have been your favorite musicians especially percussion artists across the globe?
There are too many to list here. Basically, every drummer before and me those I’ve yet hear are my gurus.
What are your thoughts on Bangalore Amrit?
I witnessed Amrit ji when he performed at Ustad Zakir Hussain’s commemorative concert for his father’s, the late Ustad Allarakha, barsi. He was a part of Vidhwan Karaikudi Mani ji’s ensemble and I was just blown away with his playing. The dexterity, clarity of thought were astounding. He is an amazing player, human being and I think it is fitting that he pay his is the one to pay respects to the late Vidhwan Hari Shankar ji. I am deeply honoured to be sharing the stage with him.
Do you think such collaborations should be encouraged by sponsors more often?
Seated in an open café at a 5-star hotel near Mumbai’s Sahar airport, the gentleman in conversation with ragatorock.com looks more like a physical instructor – after all, he is wearing a half-sleeve shirt, short pants, has an obvious six-pack, and massive arm muscles to complete his persona – but, in reality, he heads one of the fastest growing independent labels in the world. Meet Lee Parsons, the co-founder and CEO of UK-based Ditto Music, which commenced operations in 2006.
Lee has arrived in Mumbai, his first stop on his debut visit to India, for just over a day ago, but is already getting accustomed to the unorganised vehicular traffic, not realising that it is actually more organised in Mumbai than most parts of the country. While his brief jaunt will have him cover Chennai, New Delhi, and Agra, where Lee will obtain a reality check, but what is certain about his presence now is that he is here to do what he does best: support, promote, and market independent music. While it is a far cry from the days when he concentrated on a career cleaning windows and a career as a musician too, Lee is still in the presence of cleansing; however, this time around it is the global music industry instead by providing independent artistes an opportunity of not only retaining what is or should be theirs, such as recording and publishing rights, but Ditto Music’s policy of transparency ensures that every amount that the artiste should be entitled to earn is provided to them.
“Artistes are moving away from major labels towards [their] independence,” says Lee, “because companies like Ditto Music provide them better terms and more revenue.” Using the same policy across the world, Lee has, since Ditto Music’s genesis 12 years ago, set up over 20 offices across Europe, Australia, North and Latin America, and his focus – along with that of Ditto Music co-founder and brother Matt’s – is now in South Asia, with India as its headquarters.
The India office commenced operations in October 2017 with industry stalwart Gautam Sarkar being roped into to helm the business. For those not aware, Gautam is a global veteran having three decades of work experience spread across the fields of music, hospitality, and technology, leading the India piece by having worked with majors in India and abroad.
In a very strategic manner, Gautam has decided to have Ditto Music stay away from major Bollywood music for the moment, leading the Indian initiative to a more focused approach in the regional market business and in overseas distribution of Indian content. By the time Lee returns to England, the company would have concluded major label deals for distribution outside India, including managing Indian publishing business with Ditto Music’s superior knowledge and understanding of artiste minds and their requirements through Matt and Lee’s experience as independent artistes themselves. Ditto Music’s global roster – over 150,000 artistes – has expectedly begun to overflow, as people are looking at being associated with Ditto Music as a platform through which they can share their music to the large diaspora globally through high quality streaming audio, and by supporting monetization of copyright royalties. Indian languages focused on include Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, Rajasthani, and Bhojpuri, with a combined catalogue strength of 300,000 audio tracks and music videos.
CEO Lee’s affinity with Indians and the Indian diaspora has a lot to do with his growing up in Birmingham, which is also the place of birth behind such international acts such as UB40, E.L.O., Moody Blues, and Traffic. “Birmingham has a huge Indian community,” Lee reminisces, “where I used to record in a studio which Dr Zeus (real name: Baljit Singh Padam) also used. At that time, he had already sold massive quantities of his content.” Indeed, especially with Zeus’ “Kangna” being his break out song in 2003. Other Indian connects for Lee include his band being managed by the same person managing Apache Indian. In fact, Lee vividly recalls all the songs of the one-time Steven Kapur, including “Boom Shack-A-Lak”, a song that made it into several Hollywood films, including ‘Dumb And Dumber’, its sequel, and ‘Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed’ although, for the trivia-minded, “Boom” appears to be strongly influenced by the Folkes Brothers’ “Oh Carolina”, a song popularised by Shaggy.
Founded by musicians for musicians, Ditto Music provides distribution, music videos, and promotion and label services, offering both 100% royalty and commission-based deals. Ditto Music is also responsible for an innovative product known as Record Label In A Box, which provides all the tools that budding music entrepreneurs need to start and run a successful label, and has helped establish thousands of new independent labels worldwide.
Ditto Music currently works with the next generation of rising artistes and, in 2018, has already released Top 40 albums and singles for artistes such as Dodie, Dave, AJ Tracey, Yxng Bane, and several more. "We are thinking of running a search for artistes in India too,” announces Lee proudly, “so that we can pick such artistes and push them globally.” Although ripe for a takeover from the majors and venture capitalists, Lee is certain that he would like Ditto Music to remain independent, which is precisely the vision with which brother Matt and Lee commenced operations. Nevertheless, Lee is also certain about future technologies and is taking more than a keen interest in blockchain technology – that was originally invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve as a public ledger for cryptocurrency bitcoin – through which, Lee believes, transparency will only get further magnified. In placing monies where his comments are, Ditto Music has invested in blockchain start-ups in South East Asia as well as India to fulfil Lee’s mission.
If Lee Parsons has signed on or discovered artistes that are now global music superstars such as Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, it appears only a matter of time before Ditto Music helps support the “traffic” of Indian artistes diversifying from being just local musicians into the international mainstream.
- Parag Kamani
Kanjirais a little South Indian frame drum but it can pack a punch of complex rhythmic patterns with lightning speed when the dexterous fingers of Bangalore Amrit N. touch its surface. In a heart to heart chat, Kanjira maestro, Bangalore Amrit, talks to Shamali Gupta about the rhythm that governs every aspect of his life and philosophy.
Rhythmic patterns and Amrit - how did it all start off? A peep into the past...
My father Vidwan Shri Basavanagudi G. Nataraj was a very accomplished and popular Violin artist. As my mother Smt. N.Lakshmi was working in a bank, I used to spend a lot of time with my father right from my toddler years. So, I was always in the midst of music and musicians. In those days (35 to 40 years back) when there was very little television and just All India Radio, concerts and classes were my favorite pass time and passion. I naturally picked up interest in Mridangam and started observing the percussion artistes keenly. I got hold of a big cylindrical box and started playing Mridangam on the box when my father used to conduct classes. My father quickly realised my inclination to rhythm. So he put me under the tutelage of my first guru Vidwan Sri M.Vasudeva Raoji when I was 5 years old. I later continued my Mridangam training from Vidwan Sri A.V.AnandJi. Later I had the fortune of learning Khanjira from “Khanjira Legend" Vidwan Sri G. HarishankarJi. I played my first concert when I was 7. So I have been on stage for almost over three decades now. This is how my journey of Rhythmic patterns started off.
Being the son of Violin Vidwan Shri Basavanagudi G. Nataraj must have been a huge responsibility and stress. How did you deal with it as a child?
Of course it was stressful initially. The expectations were high as I was the son of an accomplished artist. So I had to carry that on my shoulders. I could not understand this at first but very soon I figured that out. My father was a hard task master. He would not let me aimlessly wander around. I was made to practice for hours together from my early days. No exemption whatsoever. The practice hours would double up on holidays. After a certain point I was totally into music. My world revolved around melodic and rhythmic patterns. Then onwards, the pressure on me was only to perform better and out-do myself.
There is a NORTH -SOUTH divide there is also a saying that East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. What is your take on this ?
Rhythm and music are universal. Around the world Rhythm and Music are alike. The seven notes & numbers do not change.The change is in the dialect, in the presentation and interpretation. For me.... it is similar to the path of all religions leading to one eternal goal. Rhythm and Music leads to Divinity. Every artiste is travelling towards that eternal goal in their own path and method.Comparison of genres is not acceptable. There are many similarities and there are many differences. That is what makes each of these genres unique. Just because some genre is more popular than the other does not signify that it is better. Art and tradition cannot be measured on the scale of only popularity and following.
Sadly there are divides created by a few people, artists and organizers, who may have done it with the intention of dominating and gaining some kind of supremacy (musically and even commercially) over other genres. Unfortunately some of them are even successful in creating this divide by brainwashing the audience who are ignorant about the other genres and the intentions of people creating this divide. People need to understand that all art forms are equal and divine. People need to understand that all music has the therapeutic power that can cast a hypnotic spell and bring about peace and harmony in the world. Ultimately, I am an Indian Classical Artiste who respects all artistes & genres of Rhythm around Music around the world and proud to call myself a musician.
Two personal experiences in the International music scene which are memorable and which you would like to share?
Two very memorable experiences are My Clinic on ‘MODERN KHANJIRA ART’ & ‘Khanjira Solo’ performance in the PERCUSSIVE ARTS SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION - PASIC 2007 in Columbus ,Ohio, USA. My performance as a ‘Solo Artist’ in a Special Percussion concert at the SACRED MUSIC FESTIVAL 2016 in JERUSALEM led by Maestro Zohar Fresco (Israel) featuring other Maestros like Andrea Picconi (Italy), AbbosKosimov (Uzbekisthan) &Aleix Tobias (Spain) gave me immense International exposure and a sense of satisfaction and self awareness.
Which is your favourite concert venue and why?
There are many venues I love performing at. One of my favourite would be Sadler's Wells in London, where I performed in a special percussion trio concert for the DARBAR Festival. The wonderful ambience, acoustics and reciprocative audience gave a really good feel and was very comfortable for me to perform without much strain.
How do you foresee the Classical music scenario 10 years from today?
Honestly speaking ... Classical Music has a bright future in sense of market growth. There are some very good artists coming to the limelight. but I think due to some other pressures... the growth of art will stop after a certain point. Only a few artistes will pursue the art for art sake. We can’t expect to see the growth of art in the way we had seen before or even what we are seeing even now.
The influence of television is so huge that we were forced to accept that as a part of our life long back. Added to this, now the invasion of Social media into our life is making things even worse. I am not against to modern technology or social media. There are benefits too. It gives us a platform to virtually connect with people around the world. It gives an opportunity to showcase our art forms on these platforms. But we should know how to and how much to use it. There should be a proportion. Otherwise it will take over our lives and& we will be enslaved by the digital platform.
'Saadhana' is a very important and integral part for any artiste's growth. It helps us to understand the art and self. Without Saadhana an artiste is not complete. There is no end to knowledge and refinement. We understand this time & again when we immerse ourselves in 'Saadhana'. Sometimes it is hours we put in, sometimes it is the qualitative content, its analysis and understanding in depth... makes us a better artiste. But with all these distractions and pressures of modern world... Saadhana may not be in the top of the list.
Born in London, raised in Australia and now settled in renowned singer Susheela Raman is an artist who has staunchly charted her own musical path. Always exploring and experimenting with sounds, from diverse musical genres like, Baul folk to Sufi to Gamelan and especially the Indian devotional and Carnatic music of her Tamil roots, Susheela has gone where the music took her.
She started her musical journey in Sydney with her own band, playing popular rock-pop songs, before venturing into blues and jazz. By then she was experiencing the limitations of pop-rock and travelled to India to learn from India’s rich musical heritage.
Her critically acclaimed debut album Salt Rain was nominated for the Mercury Prize, becoming the first World Music artist to receive that honour. She also received the Best Newcomer Award from BBC Radio 3. Susheela has since released five more albums and in 2006 she again received a nomination for the BBC World Music Awards. Currently she is working on her seventh album, Ghost Gamelan, featuring Gamelan artists from Indonesia, which is set to be released in January 2018.
With a head full of frizzy hair, her intense stage presence and exuberant yet soulful singing style, Susheela Raman has received accolades from audiences around the world, confirming her reputation as among the foremost world music artists in the world.
Here RagatoRock speaks to Susheela Raman about her musical jouney and her perspective as a female musician in the world of music:
What do you think of this years Paddy Fields being dedicated to women?
It's a great idea, especially if it reminds people that no two female artists are alike and women don't need to be patronised.
What are your views on Women empowerment?
Culture change towards female equality is good thing. Many men are scared of women and feel and need the control or belittle them ignored to reassure themselves. Women's empowerment will help such men to be free from that conditioning and fear and enjoy being with women as equals and fellow humans. Its also good at omen can participate fully in public life on the basis of merit. It makes for a more fair and balanced environment. .
What is your repertoire about or what can we expect at the Paddy Fields on the theme of women?
I am there to play music, be myself. I am not singing slogans from stage. By playing and being confident and free onstage i think it sends a positive signal that women can and should express themselves without fear.
What would you like see a change in Women Rights?
I want women and girls to have equal rights and opportunites at work, in public and at home. I want women to feel safe whoever they are. The culture that says men have right to censure women for failing to conform to arbitrary, absurd and historically backward values is morally bankrupt.
Name some songs that you like are Women Enpowering or Women oriented ?
How about RESPECT by Aretha Franklin.
You are a multi-lingual Singer, but you haven't done any original music album in English ? Any particular reason.
I have performed and written many songs in English but my albums tend to have a mix of languages.
In fact my next album 'Ghost Gamelan' is all in English.
Tell us about your forthcoming album Ghost Gamelan releasing in 2018?
Its a record i am very excited to have made with incredible musicians from Indonesia. The songs are in English and therea re some intoning vocal arrangements. The record has a really unique sound and am looking forward to sharing with everyone in 2018.
How did you manage that since your 2014 album "Queen Between" was supported by your fans ?
I signed a reocrd contract with a French record company called Naive which is owned by Believe Digital and can distribute music worldwide.
As an artiste what title would you give yourself? Queen of World Music ?
No i would NEVER say that! it doesn't mea anything. And Kings and Queens belong in the dustbin of history along with fake religious leaders!
-Stanley Paul Memury and Pradeep Joseph
The Industry can be a better place only when we communicate with each other.....
On the threshold of the 2nd annual All About Music conference we caught up with Tarsame Mittal the organizer who is also the founder of one of the most successful Artist Management companies with a roster of Artists like Arijit Singh, Amit Trivedi, Hariharan, Rekha Bharadwaj to name a few. Here he speaks to Pradeep Joseph about his passion AAM and Music Plus-the online portal he has recently ventured into.
How did Music Plus-the online portal come about? The media business is difficult to make money from…
Music Plus, I have been thinking of for a long time but I was not willing to lose money but when my creativity overtook my financial decisions I decided to leap into them. When would I probably make money from them…maybe never. I really don’t think it will ever make money. Till the time it can help the Music Industry, I will have the satisfaction that I am doing something, I am happy about it.
We don’t take money from anyone, we are an advertisement free platform even if somebody is willing to pay me we are not willing to accept it. Firstly we want to create content that people actually want to read that content, so when we reach that stage we will go to advertisers. We currently have staff strength of 12 members so you can imagine our expenses.
What about the IPs All About Music-The Music Conference and BMP- Bollywood Music Project? These are also difficult to make money from…
We lose money in AAM and BMP also we don’t think we can make money before 3-5 years.
Are you willing to lose that kind of money?
I am trying my best not to lose money. As everything is a habit, people don’t like to pay in India. I know how much hate I get when I don’t give free passes, everyone expects a free pass or registration. Nobody respects the fact that somebody is doing it; there is an effort behind it.
There is nothing wrong it’s a 'culture'. It’s a cultural problem and I don’t like it that’s why I don’t give free passes generally, unless somebody threatens me or puts me in a situation that I have no option, that I give free passes.
Last year at AAM we didn’t give any free passes so you won’t find anyone saying Mujhe pass free me mila. I tell anyone if you are my friend support it by buying passes for it. If you want to learn and network pay around Rs.10-15,000/-. I will still be losing if everybody buys a pass; I have to recover from sponsors.
Why did you want to start AAM?
I will be brutally honest as I can, we are doing fairly well in our Artist Management business and I was stagnant in terms of education I was not able to study enough, of course you can self-educate yourself with the internet but I didn’t think that was interesting enough or that was so exciting. It is not exactly for me, I am a people’s person. I like to meet people share Ideas, experiences learn from as many people as I meet.
I created AAM as a great platform to educate myself. As I came from a poor background I couldn’t spend money on my education so let’s spend money on my education now.
The best part is I travelled and attended lots of conferences abroad. I was always curious why don’t we do it in India, what’s the problem. For the Music Industry to become a better place is only when we communicate to each other.
It starts from the Content creators – The Artists. They have to be extremely educated, know about Publishing, Copyrights, Legal, and Financial it will be easier for everyone to deal with each other. Also why should there be so much ambiguity.
People should be able to connect to each other, learn from each other and I thought that Conferences is the best way to solve all problems. It will be the best way to help each and everyone in the business and also help me. Just like it will help everyone to learn it will also help me to learn. Simple that’s the only reason.
You are paying a big price to educate yourself?
We lost around 35 lakhs last year, I can say that number actually 40 lakhs if I take into account salaries, rent and expenses on the team that works on AAM that’s a cash flow loss. It’s a lot of money and at times I feel depressed that I should have invested the money and be a little safer in life but at the same time I think it is ok.
I am happy on what I have done I feel proud about AAM like nothing else.
They are senior Industry veterans who have also done similar work who would have been millionaires today if they did not invest in their passion?
I feel fortunate that I don’t have big dreams cause when you have big dreams you will push yourself for it. For me I have come from bankruptcy so I won’t mind losing. I only want my family to live well and that’s the only dream I have. I want them to be secure.
If I can make it profitable great but I am not desperate to be rich or super successful.
(Tarsame Mittal interview Part-I)
For many years the power centre of the Music business lay in the hands of Music moguls who owned the top Record labels. But then there has been a dynamic paradigm shift after the so called “Internet Boom” we see how power has changed hands from Record labels to Mobile companies to Streaming services and today to Event companies.
Living proof of this lies in the fact that in today’s current global scene, an Event company like Live Nation has outgrown and become larger than the world’s largest music company, which is what inspired us at Raga to Rock to ask Mr. Karan Singh, CEO, Sunburn & Mr. Manuj Agarwal, CEO, Percept Live, (the key persons in charge of ‘Sunburn’ one of the largest Music festivals in the world) to get an exclusive inside peek into what the future holds for their business.
Do you plan to be one of the biggest Event Companies in the world?
It’s a different ball game for event companies in India in comparison to the ones that exist globally. When you conceptualize an event in India the audience that we reach out to is mostly local in comparison to global event companies who reach out to a much wider audience and not necessarily from that market alone. Also acceptance and following for different genres of music is much higher in global markets whereas in India each genre has a very niche following and hence the marketing strategies differ to a large extent. Also Euro and Pound currencies versus the INR currency is almost 1/3rd in terms of valuation. Having said that our vision and effort has always been to be the leader in our domain and category.
Do you feel that Event Companies will soon be bigger than Music companies?
Yes, there are many ancillary revenue streams for an Event company as compared to any of the Record Labels. Event companies explore streams such as various IPS’s and concepts, Sponsorship, ticketing, F&B, Experiences and a lot more; whereas Music companies are restricted to record releases and movies. Some great examples of such event companies are Live Nation, SFX, and Percept Live, among others.
With ‘Sunburn’ being your biggest success, what other plans do they have?
Percept Live’s main Intellectual Property till date has been ‘Sunburn’ which is focused primarily on the EDM genre. Percept Live is an umbrella for live events. Apart from Sunburn, EPL, Bollyboom and FLY, Percept Live also has other IP's including Fight Night, Champions of the World, Red Carpet Pop Up Nights, and many more. We have successfully executed ‘Eat Play Love’ (EPL) ,a city food, fashion & Music festival recently. We will soon be launching the second season ‘Bollyboom’ in its new avatar and as the name suggests it will feature popular Bollywood and dance music artists. After a successful first year of FLY with ED Sheeran we plan to get FLY again in the month of March 2017 and will feature Arenas with renowned international talents. 2017 should see the announcement of many more exciting properties from Percept Live
Are you open to partnerships for new Music IPs?
Yes we are open for partnerships. We recently launched a new Food and Lifestyle IP called ‘Eat Play Love’ (EPL) under Percept Live which partnered with the Eat India Company. We’re open for new IPs and concepts.
- Noel Keymer
ShubhaMudgal is a thinking musician: Singer, composer, activist and a lovely human being whose smile brightens up the stage as does her robust mellifluous voice. In a free-wheeling chat, she discusses her upcoming show at the Paddy field festival and much more with Shamali Gupta.
What are your views about this year’s Paddy Fields being dedicated to women? Do you think this kind of effort will really make a difference?
I appreciate the gesture of saluting the voices of women artistes in this year’s edition of Paddy Fields. Whether or not it will make a difference to the status of women in general is impossible for me to predict, but surely it cannot have a negative impact in any way. Besides, folk songs often speak of the plight of women, their dreams and aspirations, their pain and longing, so to hear these songs in the voices of women would not be detrimental in any way. Having said that, I would not be able to claim that deep rooted gender biases that have existed in society for centuries will be wiped away in the course of a music festival just because the festival featured women artistes. But from a curatorial point of view, a showcase of women’s voices is creditable.
What are your views on Women empowerment?
Can you please clarify what exactly you want to ask, because otherwise, the obvious answer is that women must be empowered and attempt to empower themselves, no two ways about it.
Your powerful song “Man kemanjeere” struck a chord in many women’s hearts across the country. How did it happen?
The song Mann KeManjeere was part of an album of the same name, which was produced by Breakthrough, an organisation founded by MallikaDutt. Breakthrough’s mission is to use popular culture for powerful messaging on important social issues, and Mann KeManjeere was the organisation’s very first project. The album contained ten songs on the dreams and aspirations of women, and the title track, Mann keManjeere was a powerful one with lyrics by Prasoon Joshi and music by ShantanuMoitra. It was recorded in my voice and the accompanying music video featuring actor MitaVashisht was based on the true life story of ShameemPathan, a lady from Ahmedabad who overcame several odds including domestic violence, and drove a taxi for a livelihood. The song and the music video were imaginatively used by Breakthrough to create a curriculum for discussion on gender related issues in schools and colleges.
What songs can we expect to hear from you at the Paddy Fields on the theme of women?
Paddy Fields aims at presenting folk repertoire from different parts of the country with fusion music. I was born and grew up in Uttar Pradesh and my mother was from Kumaon, therefore my association is with folk music from these two regions primarily. I have therefore worked on a repertoire of folk songs from these two regions. The songs I will present include references to women as Mother Earth, and others in which women feature in seasonal songs and life cycle songs.
Please tell us about your experimentations with different forms of folk?
I cannot claim to have experimented with folk music in any way, so my involvement with folk music has been more that of a student of music trying to learn. One of the forms I have been studying for a long time is thumri-dadra which includes elements of folk music, as thumri-dadra repertoire includes seasonal songs forms like kajri, hori, chaiti, baramasa etc. I have been referring to several old collections of such songs and compositions to enhance and extend my own repertoire and study.
From classical to folk to fusion you have done it all. What has been the experience like?
Well, I haven’t done it all because for a student there is always more to do and more to learn. But the journey continues to be exciting and challenging and fulfilling, and I continue to be an eager student.
No Stranger Here, a modern take on Kabir’sdohas by you, Ursula Rucker and Business Class Refugees, your listeners would like to know more about this.
No Strangers Here is an album produced and distributed by Earthsync, an independent music label that has been working quietly but resolutely for several years. Yotam and Patrick, who produce music under the stage name of Business Class Refugees had invited me to collaborate with them and we met at the Earthsync Studio in Chennai to work on the collaboration. Yotam and Patrick created grooves over which I composed and sang Kabir verses, and then they arranged the songs meticulously
Raincoat, HazaaronKhwahishenAisi…and you - in short your presence in Bollywood.
My presence in film music is virtually non-existent. Very occasionally I have been invited to record a song or two for films and my experience there has largely been enriching.
.Any unfulfilled dreams as a musician?
I dream all the time, even sing in my dreams. (she smiles) But seriously, I have little to be discontented about
Aneesh and I are working on a most delightful and exciting project called The Bridge of Dreams. Our collaborators in this project are some wonderful musicians from Australia. There is the leading saxophonist and composer Sandy Evans, with whom Aneesh and I are composing for the project. Sandy has also arranged the compositions all three of us have created for the project. The compositions will be performed by all three of us, the Sirens Big Band, an all women big band from Australia, Bobby Singh who is an Australia based tabla player and also Aneesh’s student, and our dear friend and ace harmonium artiste SudhirNayak. An album of the tracks is also in the making and should be launched sometime next year. And we also hope to get opportunities to perform live with our collaborators.
Late last year music journalist and author Verus Ferreira released his second book The Great Rock Music Quiz Book with Bollywood composer Lesle Lewis giving his stamp of approval. The book that takes you into the green room of 16 bands.It is now available in the overseas market on www.amazon.com.
In a short interview we chat up with Verus Ferreira to know more about his book.
What was it like giving this kind of quiz book direction?
I can tell you didn't want it to be too difficult and neither too easy. There’s a lot to talk about in the book. Music lovers can enhance their knowledge of music as it happened… age to age, through the 16 chapters all well-documented, including musicians who’ve departed and left a deep impact on us (In Memory of). The questions are not too difficult, and if you have followed these bands on a regular basis, it would be an easy trip. There are song lyrics to complete, questions on famous album covers, trivia on when bands performed in India, so it’s not too difficult, though I have added a few difficult questions in a few chapters. It could be that when you read a question, it might be on the tip of your tongue, but you really can’t remember the answer, so it all boils down to a bit of enhancing your knowledge about rock bands. You can also lay myths and facts about music and artistes at rest. There is also a chapter on Quotes from the Rockers, very light hearted and something to reflect on. Then you also have Code of Conduct that tells you how to dress and how to behave at an open air concert or at an auditorium. We also take a look at the funny side of music artists in the last chapter that makes a Mickey of the artists featured in the book.
In terms of research, how long did it take you to compile the entire book?
After I had done my first book ‘The Great Music Quiz Book’ in 2013, I immersed myself in promoting it. I got a lot of feedback with many who liked it, asking me when the next book would be released. I thought about is seriously and some later went back to my book file and found that there were many questions and answers that didn’t make it to the first book and those were mainly in the rock genre. There were over 40 – 50 of them. It was then that I thought of bringing out a book on rock music. This was sometime in mid 2015. I collated the list of my favourite rock artists and believe me the list was endless. From over 35 – 40 bands, I had to shortlist it to 16 of my all time favourites. I began work in earnest and by early 2016 I began the work of collating the Q & As, getting the images and other such details. I sourced out material from the music albums, DVDs, LP records and music books of the bands in my collection. Most of the information in the book is from all these sources. I also put down the little I knew on these artists and added whatever I knew to make the book what I feel it should have. I have checked and cross checked facts before I used it and so the book is up to date. I completed the book in April 2017 and approached Story Mirror, who liked the concept and decided to sign me on and publish my book. All this took me around two years to complete, conceptualising the book to publishing it with Story Mirror in December 2017.
- Were the artists you took up to include as chapters essentially ones you have followed and had a deep knowledge about? Or was the choice of artists more dictated by what was popular?
All the bands featured here are my favourites. The Scorpions, Guns N’ Roses, Queen and of course Pink Floyd the toppers. All the bands featured in the book were bands I grew up listening to and followed closely. Infact I interviewed all the members of Iron Maiden when they visited Mumbai and performed here in 2008. Similarly I also attended the concerts of artists like The Scorpions, Roger Waters, Guns N’ Roses, Gilby Clarke, Coldplay. Infact the cover picture of Slash was shot by me at his concert in Mumbai in 2015.
In the case of some newer artists, did you feel like you had to explore their history on a different level and learned something new about them through the process of compiling the questions?
The only new artist among the grand daddies of rock is Coldplay. While I was working on the book, I got to know that Coldplay was part of a mega event Global Citizen which was to be held in November 2016. I love Coldplay and knew that they are one of the world’s biggest bands. I didn’t know much about them, except of course their catchy songs and colourful music videos. I did a bit of research on the band and managed to make a whole chapter on the band. I decided to feature them, targeting the newer EDM generation of fans who would pick up the book to know more about Coldplay and in turn also get to know the grand daddies of rock music that they probably missed out and which I am sure they might have been heard down the years. I also attended the Global Citizen event and the final act was Coldplay. I shot a couple of pictures that found their way in the book, including a rare image with AR Rehman and Chris Martin. The book also has a chapter on Open Secret – a Gospel band. How does it fit in the book? Well years ago, a friend of mine was holding a one hour presentation called Rock and Ruin, that showcased the bad side of rock music, from backward masking, to lyrics in rock songs and the visuals shown in music videos. I was the first to interview him for a magazine and believe it or not, three other publications took the story. He also later gave me the entire presentation in audio and video. This was way back in the mid 90s. The response was very good. In my book I offer readers a chance to listen to gospel music. I am not suggesting that you need to stop listening to rock music, I still listen to rock music, but I am offering you a choice to listen to the same rock music, with only the lyrics that speak on the glory of God.
Obviously being a quizmaster has its peeves - I imagine some people think you're just showing off your knowledge if you're trying to bring up interesting facts and stories about a particular artist?
Not at all. I am only sharing the knowledge I have gained over the last 26 years with rock music lovers who like the same music as I do. Instead of looking up a Wikipedia and learning about the band, in this book I offer you the same thing, but in a question and answer format where you will learn about the band in an interesting and fun way, where you can also test your knowledge of songs with your friends, by probably singing a line from the book and asking your friends to name the song. Isn’t that interesting? As for me, I not only learned more about each artist, things that I never knew, but I am also enhancing the knowledge of the reader to get to know his favourite artist/s much better and in an interactive way.
Was there any particular artist you had a lot of fun researching when you compiled their particular chapter of questions in the book?
Guns N’ Roses, The Scorpions and The Rolling Stones were the most entertaining for me, with the latter having some really quirky songs and album covers. The Scorpions have some really obscene album covers that never really made it to the shelves, one of which I have used in the book.
What do you think is the appeal of the book in the age of online quizzes and instant information?
I am not competing with online quizzes and neither are they my competitors. They are in a different format. The millennials would prefer participating in a quiz where they meet face to face, unlike an online quiz. It’s like reality shows, they happen in real time and not online. There is a certain charm when quiz contests were held in schools and on TV back in the nineties, the competitive team spirit, the points grading system and the prizes were a major
attraction. It is still widely prevalent and loved even today in many schools and colleges and even in corporate houses to break the ice with staff. It also makes for a perfect gift, at a very reasonable price. Can you gift an online quiz? Imagine just chilling out with friends over a beer, listening to your favourite band, taking the book in your hand and bombarding your friends with questions on the antics of Pink Floyd, the lyrics of Eagles, or the escapades of Mick Jagger. Online quizzes definitely do not give you such a thrill.
Published by: Story Mirror. Pages: 204. Price: Rs 225/-
So we were trying to get in touch with Anaida and she was nowhere to be found. On her whatsapp her status was "In the jungles , bad signal. will return calls later". So we thought she had taken off on one of her numerous treks but a quick respond from Sandra her assistant told us she is away at a yoga camp.
Yoga camp we asked? what is she doing at a yoga camp?
She is doing a teachers training course , she will tell you about it herself , i do not know much more.
So it took two months before we heard from her, we were beginning to get worried and send a search party for you we said.
She laughed and said oh no. Everyone should be used to me appearing and diapering by now. I was doing a yoga teachers training course and was cut off from the rest of the world and it was absolutely divine.
So tell us more we said. We could hear her giggling with delight,There was a different kind of energy about her laugh and we pointed that out to her.
It does feel different doesn't it? I truly feel yoga affects your being overall, body, mind and soul .It affects your personality. Kind of "tunes you up" as to say.
So you been doing yoga for long?
This time she really laughs hard, believe it or not NO! This was my first experience! -I have hardly done any yoga but this course was some seriously intense stuff. 5 am to 8 pm kinda schedule... and you jumped in straight into an intense teachers training course? we asked, Oh yes! if you are going to do something then do it properly.
So are you going to be a yoga teacher now?
Well, if i do teach yoga at any point for any reason, i would be teaching it well . she quipped
Then why the training course?
See in the last few years and specially after the response to my meditation album and tracks , more and more life is taking me into directions of healing. I have been doing so many alternate therapy courses last 10 years and specially after my mom passed away. It has been a life long passion and how on earth would i forget yoga? This beautifully ancient physical science that this land and its wise humans have gifted the rest of the world? so i wanted to learn about it and so decided to do this course. So if i ever have to recommend yoga in my healing, i understand it in and out and my comments would be well informed.
So tell us more. how was it?
A revelation i would say. I am extremely fortunate to have found the teacher that i did. It made all the difference. You see despite being an artist and floating in the clouds with creativity half the time I enjoy the science of things very much. Also i like having a pretty open mind when it comes to anything esoteric and out of ordinary, yet, i have a very logical mind. I need things to make sense to me overall. It is all great to talk about energy and how its directed and this and that , but you can only talk freely like that when you do have a strong base , and i like it when something makes logical sense to me. makes absorbing it so much more fun. And this teacher approaches the subject with so much knowledge and sense. We discussed each and every bone, muscle and tendon and what it does and why and how of it and then in relation to yoga and Asanas etc. It was seriously intense and sometimes an overload of information and the other girls in my batch were already yoga teachers or practicing yoga for years. But hey, by the end of it. i nailed it and how! there is so much delight in her voice that we catch ourselves smiling along with her.
So are we going to be seeing her now in a yogini avatar?
Ooh I would love that. Am not sure what it would be but it sure sounds good. She chuckles.
So what else are you working on we ask her?
I have just got back into normal life and have to get ready for an art showing am having in Pune and a project am doing with food.
Food? what are you doing with food?
Will let you all know soon enough. All i can say is that it would be Yummy!
First i have to finish the plans for the art showing. am thinking if i should have it on my birthday for a change. Make sure you invite us then. we remind her with bells on. wish all your readers a happy new year for me she chirps as she bids us bye. We think she 'd look good in a yogini avatar.
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.