“We’ve got lots of high-profile marquee events with flashy names but not enough grassroot support for music, musicians or the art of playing music.”
The Indian Electronic Music Scene – 101 Looking back, it seemed to all start with Fatboy Slim’s 2012 India tour and then later that year, the Swedish House Mafia arrived with their One Last Tour followed soon after by Above and Beyond’s Group Therapyradio show launch in Bangalore all three landmark events for dance music in India a territory that in the past was considered a graveyard market, a place where bands went to earn a few bucks when they werewell past their global prime. Equally significantly, before these events, which featured only DJs (as opposed to bands), nobody had properly envisioned the stadium format for dance music, which as a genre was still seen very much as a club phenomenon.
“Things have changed. Dramatically.”
Lets not get this wrong, before the big artists started to swing by Indian shores, India had a strong and thriving club scene for dance music. This scene has been around since the 1980s and has been championed over the years by various venues and djs across India. There are some legendary stories to be told of this scene that existed in clubs, bars, basements, farmhouses, abandoned warehouses and under mango trees by secluded streams in the hills. If you want to know more about that scene from the 80’s and the 90’s, have a chat with the giants of our times Whosane, Freeatmah, Akbar Sami, Sunny Sarid, Midival Punditz, Jazzy Joe, Rummy Sharma, Ivan Nilkon, Gaurav & Kris Correa, SanjayDutta, ¦ the list is long and illustrious and grows manifold if I start to take into account the Goa scene, which I haven’t really touched upon.
Since the stadium format for electronic music kicked off in 2012, we’ve seen a plethora of DJ talent – From mainstream stalwarts Tiesto, Armin and Hardwell to the champions of the Underground Ritchie Hawtin, Coyu, Yousef and John Digweed all make their way to India for solo tours. Add this to festivals like Nh7, Vh1 Supersonic, Sunburn and EVC, stand alone events with Major Lazer, Steve Aoki, Axwell and Ingrosso, MartinGarrix et al¦ and the Indian music market place begins to look less and less anaemic. Bear in mind, I haven’t even touchedon the tremendous surge in campus events (in my opinion, the holy grail of music growth) where electronic music is taking centre stage more than ever, or the hundreds of smaller gatherings and club events across India which sprout through the topsoil, searching for their own little patch of sunlight and their audience demographic.
To put things in some sort of perspective, Submerge, a dance promotions company in India did over 300 events across India in 2014. This growth in the electronic music industry and it’s listeners have prompted more thanone leading DJ to focus firmly on India for votes in a DJ popularity poll. I think that’s a trend that going to snowball into an avalanche. More on that later.
So why, with all this seemingly robust growth in the music marketplace, littered with the debris of sponsor logos, selfie sticks and facebook event posts, am I still staring into the middle distance with a furrowed brow? It’s because I think we’re becoming very top-heavy. We’ve got lots of high-profile marquee events with flashy names but notenough grassroot support for music, musicians or the art of playing music.
In order for the Indian music scene to truly realize it’s full potential, we have to encourage grassroots support for the thing that feeds it. No, not sponsors we need to feed music. We have to make music the hero here, not the selfie, the hashtag or the VIP lounge. We have to make new music easier to make, play, be heard and discovered. The people that make it (musicians, producers), those that peddle it (bars, clubs, promoters) and most critically those that listen to it (fans) need support at the very basic level. In order to allow people to discover new music, we need better blogs, more stories, better collaboration and interaction between artists, radio and TV shows centering around music and key influencers and curators who can take centre stage in the scene. We need more venues, cheaper tickets, more venues (yes I know I said that), laws that allow the growth of the industry, more venues and yes, more affordable drinks in more venues. I think you get the point.
The scene also needs more curators and fewer manufactured superstars. Curators who know their music, who care for the scene and can introduce music they love to others. I’ve said this before and I think I’ll be saying it more often at our events, we need to focus more on music and less on marketing.Of course, it’s not as easy as I’m making it sound and we all have a responsibility in nurturing and protecting our music scene. A crucial piece of the puzzle here is you, the fan and the role you play. (BTW Voting in DJ polls, doesn’t help the scene at all. Voting does many things one of which is push up the fee of the top DJs, which in turn pushes up your ticket price for the same DJ’s events. Never thought of that did you? ) This support I’m referring to, is quite simple to extend just show up for the gigs your favourite artists play at and don’t look for free passes all the time. Post pictures, write about and share your experiences on social media, share the artists’ mix sets and BUY their music legally.
Also lets not forget, your support for local artists plays a huge role in nurturing the music scene. Don’t just wait for DJ Shiny Disco Globetrotting Balls to show up before you put on your dancing shoes go out and listen to your local DJs. They’re spinning some incredible music every single day andare the true heroes of our nightlife. They’re also the reason we HAVE a scene, which made DJ S.D.G.B get on to a plane to India in the first place. They’re the one’s who’ve been the true architects of our electronic music landscape.
I could go on, but won’t, because you know all this stuff already. Also know this, that as good as we have it right now, Together we can make our music scene a whole lot better.
“Get Involved. Get On A Dance Floor”