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Early birds make the music
Aspiring musicians no longer have to hope and pray that a recording biggie notices them anymore. There are several new gates to stardom.
So you're a young college band who's a little tired of doing the rounds of the college rock circuit. Or maybe you've hit a roadblock after 1, 587 views on your YouTube video. A couple of years ago, finding your way out of this obscurity would either require a fortuitous meeting with a record label executive who would be willing to put his faith and money in you or a music video with a celebrity in it.
Today, even though the struggle remains just as hard, the avenues to perform have increased, thereby increasing the chances of being discovered. Venues like blueFROG in Mumbai who have for the past couple of years allocated a time slot, 7. 30pm-8. 30 pm, for upcoming bands and singers/ songwriters and events like Live From The Console (LFTC) which open their monthly event with a new, unseen act or The Dream Makers Singer Songwriter Showcase, have helped the growth of the indie scene like nothing else can.
Serving as an audition process, these gigs allow budding talent the stage and the opportunity to impress. And most lap up the chance. As luck would have it, it's usually after such performances that some bands and singers were booked to play at festivals and even released EPs (extended play). Like Gowri, who played at Mehboob Studios as part of LFTC in January earlier this year, is scheduled to play the Bangalore edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, this weekend sharing the same stage as the English acoustic folk trio, The Staves, while Imli Imchen, an Early Set performer at blueFROG performed at the NH7 Weekender in November.
Discovering new acts and new music is work that takes a lot of effort and more importantly, passion. Owen Roncon, festival director, Oranjuice Entertainment, who joined forces with Sony Music Entertainment to give a fillip to the scene that's not yet reaping the rewards of record sales and concerts, knows that the monthly edition of LFTC - it's organised every month at the famous Mehboob Studio - is where people, fans and A&Rs alike, come to check out new acts, something the LFTC prides itself on.
"There are a lot of bands and performers whose first gig or one of the first few were at LFTC, " Roncon tells TOICrest. He lists bands like Family Cheese, Turfe, Stella By Starlight and singer-songwriters like Pune-based Tejas Menon and Vernon Noronha who got their first big break at the LFTC.
Roncon and his team physically scout out potential performers by attending performances all over the place from college campuses to smaller off beat gigs. "Web research is always a good place to find the unexpected. But most importantly, it's word of mouth. This is the most potent tool for the indie scene and us discovering new bands. Having established LFTC as a credible music first platform, a lot of new bands now reach out to us with demos and links, which has made our task so much easier now, " Roncon says.
Like any other club in India, blueFROG also found its options limited when it came down to booking bands. It was on the ingenious suggestion of a regular customer that the programming team at the Mumbai venue, that completed five years this week, set about curating the Early Set.
The idea behind the Early Set was to promote up-and-coming talent and also give the club more options. "The idea was seeded by a regular actually, who said he frequented the place usually right after work and felt that as a live music venue we shouldn't limit ourselves to just late night programming, " Simran Mulchandani, partner and CEO of blueFROG, tells the story behind the concept. "Building upon that thought and the fact that we had already started singer-songwriter nights, we thought why not use the early slot to actually be a platform for young, up and coming artists, singers, songwriters. We would achieve two purposes - live entertainment for early customers/diners and exposure to new talent who would not otherwise have access to a stage like blueFROG, " he added.
Some Early Set performers have now created their own bands like Ayush Shreshta, Ankit Dayal and Rohan Rajadhyaksh - they are a part of the very talented and highly-spoken of Spud In the Box.
Even though the Early Set is a popular option for music lovers - "It's a well established property with people actually booking tables to watch acts and have a bite, " says Mulchandani. Roncon isn't quite optimistic. "I don't think the 'industry' has matured up to the indie scene as yet. Unless of course we decide to remix their tracks and throw in a sleazy video to match. "
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