Amplify Music Communities

India

Our India Speakers

Ritnika Nayan

Ritnika Nayan

Market Development Director, CD Baby; Owner, Music Gets Me High; Program Director, Professor, Music Business Management, Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts & Communication, New Delhi, India

Amit Gurbaxani

Amit Gurbaxani

Freelance Journalist; Chief Editor, The Daily Pao

Anirudh Voleti

Anirudh Voleti

Senior Artist Manager, Big Bad Wolf Entertainment Private Limited

Tarsame Mittal

Tarsame Mittal

Founder, TM Talent Management

Read India's Transcript

Storm Gloor  0:04  

For accurate context, please note that this program was recorded on April 7 2021, in the earliest stages of what grew into a much more devastating second wave of COVID-19 in India, the measure of which the participants could not have been aware of at the time of production. Hello and welcome. Amplify Music Communities is an extension of our Amplify Music Conference in which we take a journey around the world to visit with leaders within the music ecosystems, various cities, regions, states and countries. Our aim is to have the conversation about what’s happening at ground level in these communities and to look ahead as to what’s shaping the future of their music economies. Today, we chat with four music economy leaders from India. Leading us is music journalist, Amit Gurbaxani. Amit, welcome and take it away.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  1:01  

Thanks, Storm. Welcome, everybody to the India session. And we’ve got a great panel for you guys. Our panelists today cover every aspect of the Indian music industry from the labor side, the life side, from artists management, to education and from the mainstream, to the independent side. So I’m going to start off by basically just asking our panelists to introduce themselves. We all do a whole bunch of stuff. I think we can go in alphabetical order, we have Anirudh Voleti, who is the team leader at Big Bad Wolf, one of the leading artist management companies in India. We have Ritnika Nayan who does a whole bunch of things but is probably best known as the director of market development CD Baby and our CD Baby in India and also runs Music Gets Me High, my own company. And last but not least, we have Tarsame Mittal, who is the founder of GM Ventures, which is basically this umbrella company for a whole bunch of other companies that he runs, that basically everything from artists management to live events, music conferences, they have a label, they have a publication. So I’m just going to ask you guys to you know, tell us what you do. We can start in the same order I introduced you guys under.

 

Anirudh Voleti  2:21  

Hi guys. So I lead the music side of things at Big Bad Wolf. I personally look into artist management for an artist called Prateek Kuhad. There’s a couple of singer songwriters in Anoushka Maskey and Kamakshi Khanna, and I sort of work across the business in terms of strategy for what can be done with music in general. At Big Bad Wolf. 

 

Amit Gurbaxani  2:49  

Great, Ritnikia?

 

Ritnika Nayan  2:51  

So hi, guys, I’m Ritnika, I am the Director of Market Development for CD Baby and I am also the India rep for all downtown music holding companies which include Fulgur, Songtrust, dash GL and various others. Besides that, I do have my own music company called me MGMA: Music Gets Me High. Under that we’ve been managing artists for many years, lots of bookings, music festivals, tours like Guns & Roses India Tour, I have a rehearsal studio. And I also have set up India’s only music business certification course. So education is a big part of what we do now as well.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  3:31  

Super. Tarsame?

 

Tarsame Mittal  3:33  

My name is Tarsame, I run various businesses in music and entertainment. Starting from artist management to consultancy, to running a plat- running an IP division to run a music information portal and a music label. So that’s what it is, thank you.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  3:53  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, so as you can, everybody can tell you guys basically do it all. So, you know, it’s been exactly a little over a year since the pandemic really hit India. And I suppose everybody’s like, it just seems like it’s the movie Groundhog Day, where instead of going to the same thing over and over again. And, but you know, for the music industry, which has been one of the most impacted for you guys. I mean, when we sort of inching towards what I hate this term, new normal, like I think it’s more like new abnormal, you know, what are some of the challenges do you foresee You know, when we’re sort of going back to, you know, how to some semblance of what it used to be before and, you know, I think in some parts of India, at least we’re already seeing gigs happen. It just seems weird. It’s not like you know, they aren’t a case counts pretty high in those areas, but you’re seeing a lot of gigs like large scale independent gigs happening in those cities. Residents I’m sitting at zero, like, for instance, in Mumbai with Adam and I live. We’ve just wanted to stringent lockdown again. So, yeah, the first step I just wanted to ask you, you know, when you sort of look at, like, what is what is the status for you right now, in terms of the artists that you work with? And, you know, in the fields that you work with, like, What is the situation right now? And what are the challenges you see, you know, facing when we finally get back, I suppose, you know, the business as usual, or business as unusual, a written record, you can start.

 

Ritnika Nayan  5:37  

I mean, I think, I mean, things were looking up for a bit, because everything was opening up, and we had some gigs happening. And now, with the lock downs, you know, I really don’t think this year at least, we’re going to be anywhere close to normal, you know, we might have waves where we’ll do a bunch of, you know, little gigs, and then go back and then do little gigs and go back, because till everybody is vaccinated, till you know, till a country kind of gets their shit together, you know, we, we’re not really going to be able to kind of get back to that. And, I mean, when it comes to things I do, luckily, I don’t do too much of live, you know, I do a lot of bookings, which obviously, are not happening. And the other big thing is obviously Sula Fest, which is something I consult on. And that’s a large scale festival, God knows when that’s going to happen. And also the bigger festivals are definitely not going to be able to come back. I have a studio, studios kind of running because people are playing gigs. But once the gigs stop, the studio stops. So I don’t really know, think we’re gonna go back to anything normal for a while.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  6:43  

Yeah. And when, when the kind of gigs that you are seeing taking place right now. I mean, are you seeing, for instance, any sort of, like, protocols being followed? 

 

Ritnika Nayan  6:55  

Yeah, I mean, I mean, you know, everybody insists that you have to wear a mask or no entry, even a place like Goa where they have big raves happening, you know, they all claim on the flyer, no mask, no entry, but, you know, once you’re in a gig, you’re going to have a drink, you’re going to eat food, you’re not going to be able to wear a mask, you know, and, and there are, you know, enough people that it’s going to get crowded, so we are going to spread the disease. So, that’s the problem. You know, there’s you either you do shows without any drinks when nobody’s going to show up, you know, so that’s the problem. How do you drink and eat at a gig or event? And still, you know, be safe?

 

Amit Gurbaxani  7:33  

And what about social distancing? I mean, a rave and social distancing just doesn’t sound like they go together

 

Ritnika Nayan  7:38  

I have not seen social distancing at any, any venue, any rave, any party that I’ve gone to in the last two months, there is no simultaneous distancing.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  7:48  

So basically, gigs are happening. I mean, they’re happening on their own sort of their own sort of way we don’t know how the legal implications of whether this is like really, you know, whether they sort of following on paper, yes, it seems to be by the book but like when you get there may not be the same thing. Anirudh, you work with Prateek Kuhad who’s one of the biggest independent artists in the country. I don’t think Prateek has done any gigs yet, has he?

 

Anirudh Voleti  8:16  

We have, we’ve taken a strong call to not do any underground till this thing subsides.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  8:22  

But you mentioned Kamakshi, who also has done a couple, right? Kamakshi, the other singer/songwriter that you do manage? 

 

Anirudh Voleti  8:29  

Correct. So she actually did a gig, which was part of Casa Bacardi, which happened in Delhi, which was put together by the guys at Homegrown. And they’ve tried to follow social distancing, they do all the various standards, which is like, get you to get tested, which is like, I mean, temperature checks, and everybody wearing a mask. But just like what Ritnika said, once you’re in a venue, it’s a little hard, you can try and distance the artists from people and whatever. But venues in India are really like bars, and they’re not really like venues per seas how it is in the West. So it’s a little hard to say, hey, the artists has a separate space to hang out and they’re not going to interact with anybody, they’re not going to take a photo with their fans, or anybody that shows up to the gig. So we’ve sort of gone back into and we actually did go ahead and confirm a couple of gigs for this month, last month when things were looking a little alright. But, I mean, very honestly, I mean, the truth is that it’s too risky right now to have yourself put a gig out. Then, I look at it from two perspectives. One perspective being that while every artists and everybody wants to make some money and wants to get back on their feet, which is the reason why you see all the gigs that are happening happen. It’s also ethically a little incorrect, in my opinion to get back out there. So I mean, that’s one big thing for me and all of us are Big Bad Wolf. On the gig side of things, artists did get back to doing a few shows Indian Ocean went and played a show in Bhopal, which was a drive-in gig. So things like that have happened here and there. But for the most part, I mean, everyone’s going back into sort of like, taking a moment before confirming on ground events for a while, at least.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  10:24  

Yeah. And, you know, so obviously, when Indian Ocean does the drive-in gig I mean, that’s something that not many cities can do, because you don’t have the time space, or infrastructure in a lot of Indian cities. But when you talk about like, say Kamakshi doing it, how comfortable was she during that gig, you know, what did she come back and say? 

 

Anirudh Voleti  10:39  

She was actually really nervous during the gig, before the gig, and then but after the game, she felt a little all right, because she tried to stay away from people and not really hang out with everybody at the gig. But I mean, it’s a, it’s inevitable, you know, when you’re at an event, you’re gonna, you’re bound to meet people here and there. We did do one private event with Prateek back in November, in Calcutta, when things seemed a little calmer, where he literally just showed up at the gig, played the gig, and left. He didn’t really hang out with anyone, didn’t click a single photo. He was very distant from the crowd. But that’s far and few, you know, for the majority of the independent community, at least, you know, a lot of other artists. And because they don’t really thrive off only private events, they do play club gigs, they do play a lot of those shows, and a lot of those shows are, you know, right now, going back into like, taking a moment before confirming those shows, because safety comes first. We’ve all tried to stay safe for a whole year. So why are we gonna risk it for another six months? I’m mean, for another couple of gigs here and there. It’s that big question that comes into our heads? So yeah.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  11:58  

Yeah, yeah. And I suppose the challenge seems to be that basically, in India, it seems to be that there is no sort of midpoint, no midway, like, we all saw that gig in the UK where people had these little boxes constructed and people, you know, watching the gig from that box, but that doesn’t seem like something that we can do here, because we like we’ve just gotten let out again, people aren’t wearing masks even on the street, forget at gigs. So, you know, I suppose that I mean…

 

Anirudh Voleti  12:27  

It’s also human. I also think it’s human nature by just who we are. You know, we’re not brought up by, to be like the West. Well, I mean, honestly, our upbringing is different. And it doesn’t mean that it’s right or wrong. It’s just, it is different. You know, so, like, in Australia, apparently, if you tell people to stand on the left, they will stand on the left. And that’s what’s gonna happen, in India you just can’t do that. They’ll, they’ll fall in line. It’s simple things. Like when I got on a flight for the first time in October, everybody was following every single rule that was happening by November that was out of the window already. So I mean, people don’t like following rules all the time. It’s just what it is. And so then it all comes down to the individual themselves, wanting to take the risk and wanting to actually do things, you know.From wearing a mask, to wearing a face shield, to sanitizing yourself, to keeping distance from people, to F&B services, actually, even following those rules. I’ve been to restaurants, which were following it, then stopped following it, then have gone back into following it. So it has been a little bit of a hard year for them and for everybody in general. Yeah. So if everywhere, if someone finds an opportunity to make, recover some of what they’ve lost in the last year, they will try that. And they’re not wrong in trying that, but at the same time, I think it comes down now it really does come down to ethics. And when you’re seeing that the cases are rising, when you’re seeing that everyone is getting infected, do we actually want to take that risk upon yourself to actually like, put something out for allowing people to come to that event? I mean, while you may say that the person, the end user is the one who’s taking that final decision. I also think it comes back to the artists themselves too, who’ve actually put that gig up to actually like, say, hey, I’ve put up this gig. Now it’s somebody else’s responsibility whether they want to show up or not. Versus actually like I won’t do the gig in the first place, you know?

 

Amit Gurbaxani  14:33  

Yeah, I mean it’s also the the promoter and the artists right I mean, it’s you’re giving somebody a choice they’re going to take it. Tarsame, you come from a more mainstream perspective and you know, you handle, you manage, you know, and do like for like a whole bunch of like really big artists in the country, you know, all these guys. It’s obviously been slightly different for you because you do the really large scale stuff, right? So tell us a little bit about how to basically this year has been.

 

Tarsame Mittal  15:09  

So if you talk about challenges, I’ll tell you two challenges. One challenge for the industry and the second challenges for me personally, as an entrepreneur. The industry challenges that, we are a unique industry, music industry, unlike the rest of the world. I don’t know how many people know but our total business of the total recorded music industry in India, including all the 3000 plus music labels, all the artists, everybody put together regional international domestic, it’s about $150 to $200 million. Okay. Yeah. Which is, which is very, very low. Why I’m sharing this number and this information, so that you understand that we are not dependent, the artist or the community is not dependent on the recorded revenue. They are majorly dependent on live gigs. Okay, if you ask any random artist, the overall or the average earning of all the artists put together will be 70% on live, about 10 to 15% on social media and digital engagements, about 10% in studio, and about 5% on the rights and, you know, money which they received from IPR. So anyway, that’s yeah, so. 

 

Amit Gurbaxani  16:29  

IPR is our collection society. 

 

Tarsame Mittal  16:31  

Collection society. Yeah. Yeah. All the all the kind of rights. So the dependence on live gigs is too much, you know, it’s almost 70%. In that 70% as well, if you look at the ratio, the majority is private and corporate gigs. It is not the ticketed concerts. Yeah. Okay. The majority is private and corporate gigs, it might be different for different people. It might be different for Arijit who doesn’t do private and corporate but it is one of the cases for Prateek Kuhad. Somebody who’s in the top of their game, they can decide to do this, but majority of the artists would play private and corporate groups, and then you will have college shows or festivals. Ticketed concerts don’t contribute more than 5 to 7% any which ways, okay? So even if the ticketed concerts don’t happen for one year, it’s not going to make a lot of difference to the artist’s life to be very honest, the private and corporate shows are the shows which makes the majority of difference. So, as an industry when the lockdown started March/April/May/June, it was zero completely or they were only very very few digital gigs which you call which were happening very, very few. Then when the lockdown was lifted and there was a limit of 50 people, these gigs started somehow, okay. And some people were getting gigs especially the ones who charges less. It started happening August/September by November it was full blown, you know, you would see artists traveling left, right, and center, okay. And there was a lot of gigs happening a lot of business was going on, because the limit was increased to 200 and 50% of the venue capacity that it is still as per the state. So, while Bombay is under lockdown or Delhi is under lockdown or you have limit, the gigs are happening in Chandigarh. Gigs are happening in East of India and gigs are happening in the South of India, okay. So, if I give you an overall percentage for the industry, I would say if there was 100 rupees revenue in a normal time last year, it was zero for the first three months. It started growing and it leads to a point of about 30 to 35% of normal, okay, last month. It has gone back now, again. So this is the industry challenge, which is very complicated. Now, somebody who has made a lot of money, artists to artists, they can survive this because they have other investments, money coming from but the majority of art is like 80% of the artists and musicians like who are playing with somebody, sound engineers, and you know, a lot of other people, they are in a bad shape. They are still in a bad shape, because they are not able to survive their livelihood for the year. A lot of people have left music, started, you know, a different kind of business. Somebody is consulting somebody doing real estate, somebody has started, you know, store or somebody has moved to their hometowns. All, this is the industry status, to be honest. Personally, the biggest challenge which we are facing is financial management. Because as a company, we host about 80 to 100 team members. And the truth is that our, although we will, are doing many, many businesses, but the majority of our revenue also comes from live. Yeah, you know, most of our other businesses are passion driven, you know, they are not finance driven, whether it is running a festival or doing a music on planes or running a music portal, or running a music label, you know, all of it do not necessarily give you earning the earning comes from live gigs. So last year was fortunate for us, to be honest, that we were somehow able to focus on some new opportunities, which we have never done like influencer marketing. I have personally consulted a few brands, for the various requirements in the music and outside music industry as well. So somehow we could manage our finances. But still, it’s a very difficult spot to be in. And I don’t even know what is going to happen this year financially again.

 

So it’s not that we didn’t try our team really, really put in a lot of efforts. And we have also put in a lot of efforts to ensure that everybody is not just financially secure, they are mentally also secure, because a lot of depression, anxiety, and unwanted feelings, you know, if you if you own a home, and if you have a few rupees lying in your bank account, I mean, you would not have that anxiety, but understand from the perspective of a person who’s making 20/30,000 bucks or 50,000 bucks in India, and staying in a city like Bombay or Delhi, and suddenly he or she is not sure whether the salary is going to hit next mouth or not. If he or she is out of job, they are not sure that they will get another job, right now, you know. For some people it has been a boost, especially who were in the social media and digital space, because that business has grown. So, you know, so any artists who was big on social media, any company who was big on social media and digital, any person who has the knowledge of social media and digital, their business has actually grown. So for some people, it has come as a, you know, benefit as well. But personally, the biggest challenge, again, to sum it up is the financial management. Yeah, I can hold it for I mean, I can wait for it. It’s okay. I mean, everybody’s facing a problem in the world. And I feel the live gigs is the last priority for any government anywhere in the world. So if you were the Prime Minister of our country, I mean, any one of us, what would we prioritize more people having food and shelter? Or people enjoying gigs? Gigs, can I ever be a priority of any country. I mean, we can push for it, some gigs might happen, but will never be a priority. Unfortunately, we don’t have a policy which we were talking offline. We don’t have a policy of helping musicians or helping the industry folks. That’s a, that’s something which is wrong and we should definitely do something about it. 

 

Amit Gurbaxani  23:01  

Yeah. I mean, I think that’s, that’s a major issue, right? I mean, there’s nothing, we are not recognized. The music industry is really given the step, you know, step child treatment, and we don’t really get, there’s no government support. I mean, there’s no like, unlike in the UK, where, for example, you know, where the, you can actually go and get some benefits, you know, because you don’t have any income, even though you’re, you know, as a freelance musician, we don’t have anything like that here. And we saw a few little initiatives happen during the initial months. You know, Ritnika, I mean, for you, you teach aspiring music business people, aspiring musicians, with this music business management course, that you conduct. I mean, what is the sort of feeling right now? I mean, obviously, these guys are doing this course, they want to go out there, start their careers, you know. I mean, obviously, it’s a strange time to sort of, like, you know, be preparing yourself to enter the music industry.

 

Ritnika Nayan  24:03  

Yeah, I mean, so, the course, we obviously from a physical course, we had to move to a digital course, which was good and bad, because more people could attend. But I kind of like personal connection, you know, it kind of gets, gets tiring after that. But the kind of people that attend the course, are basically three types. One is artists who want to further their career. The other is established industry people. So I’ve had people from like Universal Music and things like that, who are working in the industry, but they want to expand their knowledge, you know, and then there are those who want to get into the industry, whether it’s as, you know, whether as an artist as an artist, manager, booking agent, whatever. The artists, you know, I guess it works for them because they can still apply certain aspects of the course, you know, whether it’s publishing, whether it’s digital, obviously, things like tour plans and all that cannot be executed, but they can still gain out of them. People in the industry again, you know, it’s a value add. The biggest issue is for the people who want to get into the business. You know, it all depends on where they want to get in. You know, it’s surprisingly, a lot of companies have been hiring, you know, because I obviously, like try to connect people. So music companies have been hiring, it just depends on what field you want to get into. If you want to get into digital, if you want to get into a platform or a label or something like that, there are still opportunities, but if you want to do touring, or put on a music festival, which is what most of us kind of dream of getting when you get into the industry, that is not happening. And you know, my course, like part of the course was, we will help you get an internship. I haven’t done that last year, because I can’t guarantee that, you know, there’s no way I can, because there’s nothing happening, you know, usually I would place them at music festivals or management companies for a month. And you know, what happens? So that’s the basic challenge.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  25:52  

Yeah. And you and Tarsame, you brought this up and, about digital marketing, and how that sort of become such a big aspect of musician’s careers. So we’ve got to look at the bright side, certainly, but if the, when the sort of positive aspects of what’s happened, I think one of the things that we’ve all seen is that artists are finally looking at their careers, with a wider scope, looking, you know, that it’s not just about live, and you can’t really depend on live, and we saw a lot of them for examples that teaching online courses. You know, like, Anirudh, some of your artists, I mean, okay, I mean, talk about the range, because you have somebody like a Prateek Kuhad who is right at the top, who obviously doesn’t need to worry about too much about not doing too many live gigs. He can do one influencer marketing campaign and be set. But we talk about the younger artists that you work with, you know, how have they navigated this whole experience of being primarily dependent on live music. And now…

 

Anirudh Voleti  26:56  

I mean, from a revenue point of view. I mean, just like what Tarsame said, it’s very obvious. We’ve all, we’ve all been hit very hard on the live side of things. It’s not, and yeah, Prateek can go into an influencer campaign, but it’s nowhere near what he will do on a digital gig. But it’s nowhere near what it would be for an on ground event more from an experience point of view, as well as from an impact point of view, as well as from a revenue point of view, it goes across the board. There is a, in the kind of artists that, what has happened, though, is that we’ve noticed that the artists are actually focused a lot more on the music. And I think Ritnika could probably talk about that as well. I mean, independent artists have released a lot of music in the last year, especially artists who could produce from home, especially singer/songwriters, simply because it, logistics are a lot easier for them, you know. And also for the fact that they actually got down to doing it. You know, like, a lot of them are just trying to like, make ends meet, run around play a corporate gig here, play a club gig here, put together 4 shows in a year. Kamakshi actually did pretty well the year before that, just because we actually like hustle together to do a bunch of corporate gigs, a bunch of like festivals, a bunch of club gigs. And we made a, she made some money. But the truth is that from a live side of point, and from a live side point of view, the younger artists are not really making too much money. There’s been a lot more interest, though, on the digital side of things from them, as well as from brands as well, wanting to do smaller activations with them, which has been really interesting, where brands are reaching out to them to do not the typical influencer marketing sort of things, but sort of like, can you flip an anthem? Or can you go and you know, like, create a reel for something? Or can you do a cover of a particular song in a particular way? and things like that, that have actually become interesting sort of advents? I mean, the platforms have been supportive in whatever way they can be, whether it’s Instagram launching reels, YouTube starting shorts. So from a digital point of view, it’s been a very busy year. Kamakshi, for example, actually, I think, collaborated with more people, whether it was through original or covers and wrote more music in 2020 than she’s ever written in her live, I think. But when it comes to, from a revenue point of view, it’s definitely nowhere near what it was the year before. So.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  29:32  

Yeah, and you said something really interesting when we were talking ahead, you said that. Basically, the hope is that she’s been releasing all this music. She’s been building a fan base, you know, online. And then when she actually now goes up to play gigs, again, in a more full fledged fashion, she’ll get fans like actual fans who know those songs, you know, and coming to the gigs. So the hope is that eventually, more people will show up for these gigs because they familiar with her music, because merely because she’s just released so much more of it, and it has sort of got a decent amount of traction online. But Ritnika do you want to share some stats with us. Like, I know that you said that. Yes, last year was like a record year in terms of the number of releases at CD Baby 2000 India, right. The company was like… 

 

Ritnika Nayan  30:19  

I mean, I’m trying to remember but I mean, we definitely I mean, the, the… 

 

Amit Gurbaxani  30:23  

Like I remember I asked you when you said that I can’t share numbers, but I can tell you the percent percentage or something like that you said it was like in brief.

 

Ritnika Nayan  30:30  

India, like last year, my territory had like 600% growth from the previous year. So I don’t know. No, but like, honestly, when we it’s funny, you know, when we first went into lockdown all over the world, a lot of people we’re oh, we have nothing to do now for the next couple of months, we figure out what our plan was. For me. March till like, I’m going to say to November, actually, October was hectic, like, you know, I can’t, I have never been so overworked in my life. And I’m like, what’s going on? Because all over the world, people were just releasing music, there was nothing else to do. And because of that, we had to actually hire more people internationally at CD Baby just to speed up everything, because there was so many releases coming up. So I mean, people have definitely, you know, that’s a good thing, I guess, about COVID is that artists are learning different revenue sources, and he may not just be revenue, but different ways to expand their career, it’s not just money, right? It’s also how to get, you know, getting your music out there figuring out publishing, figuring out YouTube, figuring out social media, you know, these things matter. And this is sort of like a blessing in disguise, at least they’ve paid attention to what how long it lasts, I don’t know, again, but at least this has given them something to, you know, broaden themselves, or whatever. 

 

Amit Gurbaxani  31:55  

Yeah, yeah. And you Tarsame, you haven’t mentioned all the various things that you do. But you know, you have Truly Musical, which is the live side, you also do something called Truly Comical, which is, you know, stand up comedy. And I want you to just maybe touch upon how whether that’s been any different. And like you mentioned, you have a portal, which is called Music Plus, you run India’s largest music conference called All About Music, which had a very successful virtual edition last year, which you sort of you transition to, and you started a music label called TM Mmusic. Now, I know you, you’ve said that the label is really making you much money, but who starts the label in the middle of a pandemic?

 

Tarsame Mittal  32:40  

Yeah, that’s, that’s a problem with my character. I mean, it has nothing to do with the business, my, you know my background where from where I’ve come, I can’t sit idle. And that’s the problem. So I don’t look at, I don’t try to look at what can’t happen for too long. I try to look at what can be done. So the moment lockdown happened, the 22nd of March, I remember. And three days before that. Nobody had a clue. You know, all of us. I mean, I was doing regular meetings, we had concerts lined up. And things like that have happened so many times in the past, you know, some, a lot of virus comes, you know, I remember what is the name of the Ebola, you know, so many viruses came, and they keep on hearing in the news, Nigeria may have this happened there and all but India is never affected by it. So, so was we, you know, we were under that impression. The moment lockdown happened. We said, Oh, it’s serious. Okay, now what to do? So the first thing was simple that secure yourself for one year. You know, this might take really, really long. How do you pay people? How do you ensure that everybody who’s working with you will be able to survive? That was the first thing which we started. I don’t want to get into details. But you know, that’s, that’s the first thing. The moment that was done, we tried to figure out what can be done. Okay. So, music label, it’s not that we’d never had a plan to do it. If you if you look at how a music label business has become today, today, you know, when we are managing artists, artists will not be able to grow until and unless they have their provisional contract. Okay. And there is there are two options. Either you go after the film producers and music directors and big music labels for their songs either do you do it yourself. So we say that, you know, we will continue to work with everyone, but what if they are not interested in our art? What if they are not interested in that kind of music? We have to hand it over all that’s happening. 

 

Amit Gurbaxani  34:48  

Right. And I think that’s one thing that happened last year. I mean, Ritnika.

 

Tarsame Mittal  34:54  

Yeah, I remember I told you last time when we spoke about one interview It was an opportunity. It was a compulsion. And it, mean it was the only thing we could have done. So we immediately started working on that and we started releasing music. On Music Plus also if you remember we did an activity with RedFM called Rise India Awards, where it was an online activity which we did and we, where we kind of found out the people who were doing really, really good job during COVID to help people and we are awarding them a lot of artists came and performed there for them spoke to them had infection, stuff like that. And that’s what it is. So we tried to do and in Truly Comical, Truly Comical is a company which we formed not because of a plan it happened to so Kapil Sharma, as you know, is India’s number one comedian. And he, he approached us two, three years back and he happens to be my friend since like 15 years now. From the time I used to consult Laughter Challenge way back in 2007. When he came to TM Talent Management, we have kind of focused on music only. We have not been managing anybody else since more 10 years now. So when he proposed, that’s the time when we thought let’s listen, I don’t want to not do that. Managing live gigs of Kapil Sharma is an honor. You know, he’s the biggest guy in comedy by far, you know that in India. So we started a new firm so that we can justify our statement of being true to music. That’s we started that new firm. So in the lockdown, fortunately, we were able to do a lot of digital gigs with other comedians, because the easiest thing to happen in lockdown was the comedy show, because in the comedy, you don’t require a lot of setup, you know? Yeah. Although it’s a very difficult thing to do comedy in front of a screen, trust me. Every artist said the same thing to me, that listen here, what the hell is this? You know, we can’t look at a screen and do comedy, how do the punches come on? You know? Yeah. How did that interaction Come on, but still, it was still I mean, it was still doable. So we did a lot of gigs with other comedians. In fact, we did one as well, where Flipkart, you know, one of the leading brand leading e-commerce brands, they want to do something for the internal audit, internal employees and team members. So we did a few activities like that. So that’s how, I mean, some opportunities somewhere here and there we were able to pull. 

 

Amit Gurbaxani  37:36  

Yeah. And so it was relatively easy for comedians, in a way, I guess, right? Even though experience was weird. 

 

Tarsame Mittal  37:41  

I would I would I would replace that word of easy to being less tough, not easy at all.

 

Amit Gurbaxani  37:47  

Yeah, yeah. And I mean, but the other thing that, you know, you, you started slipping, like you rightly said that. And a few of the people that are on the label of the releases that you’ve had so far are people who primarily work as in film, and they work, you know, they record music, they sing for films, and film production came to a standstill. This was another sort of avenue for them to also, you know, record more music, put themselves out there and expand their audience, which, if because the moment, you know, no movies were happening, they would pretty much sort of be, you know, out of sight for the longest time. You know, so just saying.

 

Tarsame Mittal  38:29  

Yeah, a lot of people started music label Amit, and a lot of people released music. But thanks to the digital expansion, it has become a democratic world now. Somebody might claim I have 100/200 million. But YouTube has a global charge mechanism, you know, it’s easier to find out so who’s doing cop? And there are so many so many inspiring stories. I just want to share one which I called a few days back and shared with you. There is a song which was released in October. Let me just accept this. I refuse that song. It was sent by one of my friend to me. And, 

 

Amit Gurbaxani  39:09  

Oh, I didn’t know that. 

 

Tarsame Mittal  39:12  

That song has become the biggest Hurrian the most viewed Hurrian song ever in the history. And currently, while we are talking that song has 812 million views on YouTube, which is the 16th biggest, most watched song in India right now, which is growing at a speed of three to 4 million every day, which is on global charts for the last 13 weeks. Yeah, yeah, no, that’s. So that’s one song I’m talking about. There are so many songs and there are so many people who have grown out of nowhere, who have who are who are who are not connected to the music industry, who do not have access to you or me who do not have any PR strategy who do not have any digital strategy, who do not have experts talking to them. But they’ve become started, that’s the best news to come out of this lockdown. There are more than 50, 50 such small and big stories where people have actually grown audiences. They have followers. And once the lockdown is over, don’t be surprised if you see a lot of big concerts happening with those artists. And Bollywood might be completely unaware of them. But they’ll still sell sell tickets, they will still have sponsorship, and will still have more views than anybody else. So yeah, yeah, there are some great things happen as well.

 

Amit Gurbaxani 40:33

And I’m glad you mentioned that song. Because you know, the three of us are, I mean the four of us are talking here. The three of you have a huge, like I said, a very sort of wide range of perspectives that you represent but there’s still another world out there. Like the whole Indian regional music scene which we’re not representing here but it’s this entire universal.I mean if you look at the Youtube chats, I think about 50% would be something of the Indian Regional Music.