Aishwarya – India Nuance
Welcome to the show on Coffee With Experts! Today we have a young Indian entrepreneur who decided to take the road less travelled in chasing her dreams in the music industry. Aishwarya, started India Nuance – an artist management firm with a focus on Indian classical music. Her start up in the field of art & music has caught the attention of many and has recently been awarded British Young Entrepreneurship Award. Please join me in welcoming Aishwarya, our next Indian role model on Coffee With Sundar.
Me: Sundar Rajan G S
AI: Aishwarya, Founder India Nuance
Me: Hi Aishwarya, how are you doing? Can you speak about yourself.. your childhood.. your music interest etc..
AI: Sure. My family has always been into music. Mother is an AIR artist. Grand mother, aunt, cousins are all into carnatic music. We are delhi based family, where the usual atmosphere is music. My grand father is also very interested and involved in making veena. Father plays morching. So all in all, a complete musical family. I would find it odd if we didnt discuss music.. I have always been with music from a very young age..
I started my training from 3 years with my mother.. Ever since I have been learning. Only over the last year and half, I havent done much singing.. Since we were brought up in delhi, it wasnt very traditional always.. My brother plays a lot of instruments like Tabla, Mandalin.. mostly self taught.. Father would bring jazz, blues music etc. When we were in teens, it was the MTV scene.. I always grew up with music and was fed with music with diverse taste.. Even now my itunes are full with diverse music numbers.
Me: When and what triggered you to start India Nuance.. Please share the story.. How long have you been working on it..
AI: I wouldnt say it all happened by chance.. But I threw myself into it.. In 2009, I was married and relocated to Bombay.. I was working with Sa re ga ma, but I was disillusioned with music labels business. It was a declining field.. Physical format is not doing well.. Everything was viewed with a sales/profit vs content angle.. I was not doing what I wanted to do.. So I moved out..
I had about 5 years of experience.. started at the bottom of the run. While I was in Bombay, I was doing a bit of consulting, event management, putting a book together etc.. I looked out for other jobs.. Some of them were good which I would have probably done well as well.. But during my record label days, we to meet managers and artists.. But in classical music space, there were no managers.. they were mainly family of artists or the artists themselves who were managing the bookings. If you look at the pop music space, you will find a proper manager with a legal background dealing with you.. which wasnt the case in carnatic music. The likes of Hari prasad churasia, Shiv kumar sharma we were dealing with.. But where are their managers? There were thoughts which I had discussed with my colleagues while I was in my previous work.. But not in my wildest dream I thought that I would take the plunge then..
But the circumstances turned out to be different.. I was not convinced with other offers which I was receiving.. so I pushed myself into it.. At the end of the day, I was just 27 and I can always come back to main stream..
Initially I operated out of home.. Not much income.. hired a few interns.. no fancy office.. one it is difficult to find real estate in Bombay.. two, I wasnt too keen having a fancy office as well..
We had to choose a name.. I didnt want it to be just realted to music.. So we chose the name India Nuance. Two of us, my brother & I decided on this.. Then we had a designer, Krishna, who helped decide a logo and put up a basic website. This was up in April. Thus began our journey..
Me: So, how did it grow from there.. How did you win the British Young Entrepreneurship Award?
AI: We started off with Shashank.. I had his contact from the record label days..
The concept itself was new to the artist.. their main concern was was should we give up our right.
I was having credibility when I was a part of India today or Sa re ga ma.. But I had to build that for India Nuance.. I took some time to build it.. I was in no hurry to expand.. That was when British council award story happened..
I had known colleauges in the past who have won Young Creative Entrepreneur awards.. I got a call from them asking why dont you apply.. Winner gets to meet several music winners across the UK.. It would be a great opportunity to build relevant contacts in the industry.. I wasnt really ready yet.. But what was there to lose.. I told them that I dont have the necessary 2 – 2.5 years experience which was a criteria.. but they told just apply.. We got shortlisted based on the idea and concept.. We had an opportunity to present the case to the panel. Much to my surprise, I was given the award..
Everyone there was equally great if not more.. They were looking for something radical and different and India Nuance fits the bill.. It was a very encouraging and there was no looking from that.. We were in 5th gear after that.. We were written about every where.. British government promoted our works.. Aritsts were less interested, but organizations were getting more interested with British Council award.. The credibility angle was built.. We prepped up to go to UK..
Me: What is the perception of an artist manager in traditional field like Indian classical music? How do they respond?
AI: To be selected as an artist manager, they were still hesitant.. The artists are very conservative and still a long way to go.. In terms of artist management, there is a different meaning which the India understands.. In India, manager means a secretary..
For artists and vocalists, we would like to take care of the careers.. this would include tour design (internationally), what to perform, whom to collaborate with, help create new content, in new forms.. promote the artist as a whole package..
We do all the talking, they just have to come and perform.. Lot of managers dont necessarily understand the subject, they think it is another form of PR. It is different. Handling traditional artists requires one to understand the sensitivities.. One has to know the differences between kurta, veshti conservative musician to the guitar playing modern musician. We understand the artist and the business. Hence we are able to add value.
Me: What is the goal of India Nuance?
AI: Our vision and goal is to demystify the music and make it relevant to the younger audience. Current audience for music are in the age group 40 – 65. But we have a number of young artists such as Niladri Kumar, Shashank, who are sauvy musician.. Sanjay Subramanian for example is a CA, he can easily hang out with the youngsters.. We want to work with such artists who can connect with the younger audience. Ofcourse, it is not going to happen over night.. This would require time and effort from our side and from artist’s side..
Recently, there was international festival for sacred music. We had artists from Denmark, France etc.. But there were no Indians.. I wondered what was more sacred than our carnatic music.. We just have to package it correctly, identify what to say, how to present.. We help artists create an online presence.. through twitter, facebook, good functioning website which is very important..
Having said all these, we dont interefere with artist’s art.. At best we can suggest.. for example, a concert on “kabir” etc.. But what they sing, how they sing etc.. is upto the artist.. We do what we are good at and we leave the artist to do what they are good at.. This way the creativity of artist is not restricted.. if anything it is enhanced because they dont have to deal with day to day routine..
Me: Do you see much competition in this niche?
AI: In terms of competition.. clearly, we dont cover all the artists.. Some of them have people who work solely for them.. family members, students etc… But in terms of formal organizations, there are very few.. We are one among them..
Me: What challenges do you face in your day to day building of the business?
AI: Challenges are quite a few..
Artists themselves.. Classical music artists are ripped off for most times.. hence they are very skeptical about the whole thing.
Client organizations we speak with.. They ask us why should we speak to you and not directly to the artist.. They have a big ego trip at times..
Instrumental people, are always using artists for their personal benefit.. For example, the person might have helped the artist long back, based on that he would expect the artist to perform everywhere he recommends although artist himself might not be very interested..
Quite a few challenges to over come, but it is a long journey and we are progressing well.
Me: Did you feel like quitting at any point in your journey?
I didnt feel like quitting.. Quitting is a stong word.. I would say, stressed and tired.. as it is very consuming, all your time, mental and physical energies.. Given the amount of convincing, talking takes a toll on you.. But then when you hear music, you spring back to life..
Me: Thanks Aishwarya. What is your message for Indian Young?
AI: This might sound a bit of a cliche.. Lot of us of dream.. Even if there is an iota of practicality, it is never too late to give it a shot.. Try and fail is much better than just being thinking about it.. Money wont come on day 1.. there are going to be tough days.. but entrepreneurship is a greatest high you can give for yourself.. You are the boss of your life.. If you have an idea and you have thought it through, just go for it!
Me: Thanks Aishwarya! Good luck to you and to India Nuance.
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