ANNIVERSARIES

Rashmi Tiwari 1-Jun ! Sukdev 1-Jun ! Alan Wilder (Depeche Mode) 1-Jun ! Alanis Morissette 1-Jun ! Graham Russell (Air Supply) 1-Jun ! Pat Boone (1934) 1-Jun ! Ron Wood (Rolling Stones) 1-Jun ! Simon Gallup (The Cure) 1-Jun ! Tanjore S.Kalyanaraman 2-Jun ! Iiyiaraja 2-Jun ! Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones) 2-Jun ! Suzi Quatro (1950) 3-Jun ! Ahmed Khan 3-Jun ! .K.Rangachari 3-Jun ! Freddy Fender (1937) 4-Jun ! Nancy Sinatra (1940) 4-Jun ! Stefan Lessard (Dave Matthews Band) 4-Jun ! S.P. Balasubramaniam 4-Jun !Brian McKnight (1969) 5-Jun ! Clause Noreen (Aqua) 5-Jun ! Govindrao Tembe 5-Jun ! Kenny G (1956) 5-Jun ! Mark Wahlberg (aka Marky Mark) (1971) 5-Jun ! Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden) 5-Jun ! Narayan Agarwal 5-Jun ! Viju Shah 5-Jun ! James Shaffer (Korn) 6-Jun ! G.N.Balasubramaniam 6-Jun ! Neyveli R.Santhanagopalan 6-Jun ! Nikhil Chinappa 6-Jun ! Preeti Sagar 6-Jun ! Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction) 7-Jun ! Eric Kretz (Stone Temple Pilots) 7-Jun ! Iggy Azalea 7-Jun ! Tom Jones 7-Jun ! S.Karthick 7-Jun ! V.Kamalakara Rao 8-Jun ! Bonnie Tyler 8-Jun ! Kanye West 8-Jun ! Mick Hucknall (Simply Red) 8-Jun ! Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran) 8-Jun ! Dean Felber (Hootie & The Blowfish) 9-Jun ! Ed Simons (The Chemical Brothers) 9-Jun ! Jon Lord (Deep Purple) 9-Jun ! Faith Evans 10-Jun ! Jimmy Chamberlain (Smashing Pumpkins) 10-Jun ! Jo-Jo (K-Ci & JoJo) 10-Jun ! Maxi Priest 10-Jun ! M.S.Gopalakrishnan 10-Jun ! Roop Kumar Rathod 10-Jun ! T.V.Gopalakrishnan 11-Jun ! Frank Beard (ZZ Top) 11-Jun ! Robert Birch (Stereo MC's) 11-Jun ! T. V. Gopalakrishnan 11-Jun ! Palghat Mani Iyer 12-Jun ! Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick) 12-Jun ! Kenny Wayne Shepherd 12-Jun ! Soren Rasted (Aqua) 13-Jun ! Boy George (Culture Club) 14-Jun ! Chris DeGarmo (Queensryche) 14-Jun ! Ice Cube 15-Jun ! Russell Hitchcock (Air Supply) 15-Jun ! Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche) 15-Jun ! Zia Fariduddin Dagar 15-Jun ! A.Kanyakumari 15-Jun ! Sikkil Kunjumani 15-Jun ! Suraiya 15-Jun ! Amaal Mallik 16-Jun ! Nathan Followill (Kings Of Leon) 16-Jun ! Barry Manilow 17-Jun ! Paul Young 17-Jun ! Alison Moyet 18-Jun ! Chaitra H. G. 18-Jun ! Dizzy Reed (Guns N' Roses) 18-Jun ! Paul McCartney 18-Jun ! Brian Welch (Korn) 19-Jun ! Paula Abdul 19-Jun ! John Taylor (Duran Duran) 20-Jun ! Lionel Richie 20-Jun ! Michael Anthony (Van Halen) 20-Jun ! Twiggy Ramirez (Marilyn Manson) 20-Jun ! Jal Mistry 20-Jun ! Leslie Lewis 20-Jun ! Shweta Shetty 20-Jun ! Shakela Banu Bhopali 21-Jun ! Brandon Flowers (The Killers) 21-Jun ! Joey Kramer (Aerosmith) 21-Jun ! Marcella Detroit (Shakespear's Sister) 21-Jun ! Sonique 21-Jun ! Cyndi Lauper 22-Jun ! Gary Beers (INXS) 22-Jun ! Kris Kristofferson 22-Jun ! Chittor Subramania Pillai 22-Jun ! Anubhav Sinha 23-Jun ! Penaaz Masani 23-Jun ! Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) 23-Jun ! Vijay Sardeshmukh 23-Jun ! Andy McCluskey (O.M.D.) 24-Jun ! Curt Smith (Tears For Fears) 24-Jun ! Jeff Beck 24-Jun ! John Illsley (Dire Straits) 24-Jun ! Mario Calire (The Wallflowers) 24-Jun ! Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac) 24-Jun ! Kailash Surendranath 24-Jun ! Carly Simon 25-Jun ! Ian McDonald (Foreigner) 25-Jun ! Mike Kroeger (Nickelback) 25-Jun ! B.U.Ganesh Prasad 26-Jun ! Ariana Grande 26-Jun ! Chris Isaak 26-Jun ! Colin Greenwood Radiohead) 26-Jun ! Gauhar Jaan 26-Jun ! Patty Smyth 26-Jun ! Nitin Mukesh 27-Jun ! Bobby Harrison (Procol Harum) 28-Jun ! David Knights (Procol Harum) 28-Jun ! Ian Paice (Deep Purple / Whitesnake) 29-Jun ! Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls) 29-Jun ! Ali Peter John 29-Jun ! Stanley Clarke 30-Jun ! T-Pain 30-Jun ! ! Missy Elliott 1-Jul ! Debbie Harry (Blondie) 1-Jul ! Ustad Rashid Khan 1-Jul ! Hariprasad Chaurasia 1-Jul ! Savitri Sathyamurthy 1-Jul ! Sudesh Bhosle 1-Jul ! Johnny Colla 2-Jul ! Pandit Santosh Joshi 2-Jul ! Guruvayoor Dorai 2-Jul ! Mohd. Aziz 2-Jul ! M.L.Vasanthakumari 3-Jul ! Shane Lynch (Boyzone) 3-Jul ! William Goldsmith (Foo Fighters) 4-Jul ! Bill Withers (1938) 4-Jul ! H.K.Venkatram 4-Jul ! Kumar Taurani 5-Jul ! Bengt Lagerberg (The Cardigans) 5-Jul ! Huey Lewis 5-Jul ! Robbie Robertson 5-Jul ! Amit Mishra 5-Jul ! 50 Cent 6-Jul ! John Keeble (Spandau Ballet) 6-Jul ! Bali Brahmbhatt 6-Jul ! Dr. M.Balamurali Krishna (Chennai) 6-Jul ! Mark White (Spin Doctors) 7-Jul ! Ringo Starr (1940) 7-Jul ! Wasifuddin Dagar 7-Jul ! Beck 8-Jul ! Joan Osborne 8-Jul ! Andy Fletcher (Depeche Mode) 8-Jul ! Jack White (The White Stripes) 9-Jul ! Courtney Love (Hole) 9-Jul ! Debbie Sledge (Sister Sledge) 9-Jul ! H.P.Ramachar 9-Jul ! Hema Sardesai 9-Jul ! Arlo Guthrie 10-Jul ! Parveen Sultana 10-Jul ! Lil' Kim 11-Jul ! Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi) 11-Jul ! Suzanne Vega 11-Jul ! Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac) 12-Jul ! S. R. Janakiraman 12-Jul ! Charumathi Ramachandran (Chennai) 12-Jul ! Will Champion (Coldplay) 13-Jul ! Kesarbai Kerkar 13-Jul ! Jayashree Patanekar 13-Jul ! Amod Mehra 13-Jul ! Sarita Sethi 13-Jul ! Kulwant Jani 14-Jul ! Taboo (Black Eyed Peas) 14-Jul ! Marky Ramone (Ramones) 15-Jul ! Linda Ronstadt 15-Jul ! Mogubai Kurdikar 15-Jul ! B.Rajam Iyer 15-Jul ! R.N.Thyagarajan (Rudrapatnam Bros) 15-Jul ! Vaigal S.Gnanaskandan (Chennai) 15-Jul ! Stewart Copeland (The Police) 16-Jul ! JC (PM Dawn) 17-Jul ! Terry

UKs Ditto Music takes Indian content global

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

 

 

Interviews

Venues

Hard Rock Cafe1

Located in a former mill, the Mumbai outpost of the US chain of resto-bars has a mixed reputation among the city's musicians. In the first couple of years after opening, in 2006, indie rock acts were often asked to include a stipulated number of cover songs in their set lists. These days, Hard Rock Café, which hosts gigs every Tuesday and Thursday night, sticks mostly to cover bands, with a couple of dates a month spared for indie groups. Skip these gigs, and come here only for the ticketed events, when one of the seating areas is cleared to make room for a larger stage, for performances by Indian indie icons (folk-fusion veterans Indian Ocean, electro-rock superstars Pentagram), international chart toppers (Wyclef Jean, Jay Sean) or club-packing DJs (Bob Sinclair, Paul van Dyk). Be warned, though: the waiters break into a synchronised jig every time the Village People's "YMCA" comes on.


Bombay Dyeing Mill Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli, + 91 22 2438 2888, Hardrockindiablog.com. Open daily noon-1.30am. Performance times and entrance fees vary