How can you showcase live music in India without sponsorship?
This panel discussion aims to present a way forward towards programming musical events in India, without the help of sponsors. We aim to argue - by way of our experience - that it is possible, and there is room for all kinds of music to be heard, and for artists to get paid; not just what sponsors want us to hear.
The rise of electronic dance music globally has been discussed by many, but there is something quite remarkable happening in an Indian context that has received far less attention. A surge of Indian artistry is unfolding amidst an ongoing and iterative evaluation of what it means to be young, Indian, and both a consumer and creator of music – music that is a soundtrack to a reassessment of an identity premised on both the music authored and performed by this young demographic.
This movement was spurred by two separate events, underwritten by India opening up her economy to the world in 1991. By 2007, coupled with a rapid rise in broadband and technology adoption, corporate sponsorship possibilities began to pay close attention to the market potential that India presented. Events began to scale up, new musical creations were shared amongst a now connected peer group, and a window into the rest of the world opened up to both an audience as well as the artists making this music.
Yet for the most part, in urban India, the primary curator of who decides what music gets heard and what does not has been the lifestyle sponsor - alcohol brands in particular. In tandem with the technological growth that underpins this surge of talent are corporate entities looking to capitalize on the “millennial” demographic. Unlike in many other countries, this surge of talent was not underwritten by the risk of labels putting out music, independent promoters taking a financial risk of ticketing events, or other parties. Instead, sponsors have, for the most part, been the primary bearer of risk in event programming, with the incumbent bias that this presents - to minimize financial risk, music which serves to guarantee the highest number of attendees by virtue of being “safe” or “palatable” is what is primarily showcased.
Yet of course, there are ways out of this, and the time is now.
This panel - comprised of people who are committed to working outside the sponsorshop model - seeks to address two issues: what does this bias imply for the nature of the musical narrative that is predominantly presented, and what is being done about it in terms of alternatives?
An open mind and a love for music - and ideally an interest in putting on musical events in your town without having to resort to the sponsorshop model.
On the panel will be Bhanuj Kappal, head of content for Bajaao.com and Mumbai-based independent music journalist, Rishu Singh, director of Ennui.Bomb, an Mumbai based agency committed to independent programming across rock, metal, punk, and hip hop, and founding partner in the crowdfunded Ctrl Alt Del series of concerts, Rana Ghose, director of REProduce, an artist collective based in Delhi focusing on more left field music, and Varun Desai, an independent event and music producer based out of Kolkata. The panel will be moderated by Bhanuj Kappal.