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How B-Town concerts fare compared to their international counterparts

With AR Rahman's Mumbai concert coming up, we speak to concert, festival organisers to find out where Bollywood music concerts stand with respect to the international ones in the country

The frenzy that is stirred by a Pitbull concert or an Enrique Iglesias performance among music lovers in India often overshadows the excitement that an Indian artiste commands. Perhaps AR Rahman is the only Indian musician who is an exception to this. hitlist speaks to a few concert and festival organisers to find out where Bollywood music concerts stand with respect to the international ones in the country.

Sonu Nigam
As leading Indian artistes, Sonu Nigam (left) and Shreya Ghoshal are said to have a fee structure that varies depending on whether they are performing at a corporate event, a public one or at a wedding. 

‘Audience is a lot more aware now’

Aarnav Shirsat founder of 3rd Rock Entertainment
Aarnav Shirsat
founder of 3rd Rock Entertainment

Shirsat says that it’s difficult to sell Bollywood artistes when compared to the international ones. “The audience is a lot more aware now in terms of international DJs and artistes. People are willing to spend money and buy tickets, so getting corporate backing is also easy when it comes to international artistes. But getting sponsors on boardis a little difficult when it comes to Indian names,” he says. 

He also reveals that tickets for concerts by international artistes range from Rs 4,000-15,000 while tickets to performances by local artistes cost between R1,500-3,000. “We hardly make profits even if it is a Honey Singh concert. However, he and some other singers like Kailash Kher, Sunidhi Chauhan and Himesh Reshammiya are in great demand in tier II and III cities. They charge between Rs 20-30 lakh for a performance,” he says.

A R Rahman
Grammy-winning musician AR Rahman is slated to soon perform in the city; he is perhaps the only Indian name who commands the same attention as the international artistes

‘Younger generation is drawn towards international acts’

RH Chhatrapati Vice President – Physical, Live and Merchandising, Universal Music Group
RH Chhatrapati
Vice President – Physical, Live and Merchandising, Universal Music Group

Chhatrapati points out that the reception that an international artiste gets is also grander than what awaits an Indian artiste. “There are two sides to this. Now international and non-film music is setting its base in the country. The older generation (read: families and the middle and lower middle class sections) is looking at Indian artistes but the younger ones are drawn towards international acts like Avicii, Armin van Buuren etc. Accordingly, mixed preferences are prevalent right now. Also, Indian names are more affordable as flying down a huge international troupe is not so commercially viable,” he says. 

Talking about ticket prices, he says that Indian music acts within the country are definitely more affordable. “The lower middle class can’t afford tickets to performances by international artistes. So if an Indian artiste’s concert costs R1,000 per head, an international name will cost you R2,000. Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal, Shaan, Honey Singh and Arijit Singh — they all have a fee structure that varies depending on whether they are performing at a corporate event, a public one or at a wedding.

Honey Singh, Kailash Kher, Sunidhi Chauhan
Honey Singh, Kailash Kher, Sunidhi Chauhan

Lavin Uthappa Festival director, Storm Festival

Lavin Uthappa
Festival director, Storm Festival

‘One seldom gets to see international artiste’s performance’
Uthappa says that because of human psychology, one tends to give less importance to local artistes and welcome those from abroad with greater enthusiasm. “Indian artistes have been a part of the international music scenario in the past, but it’s only recently that more names have proved themselves on the international platform. I would personally state that an Indian artiste is no less than one from abroad, but people find the latter very ‘cool’. They are more excited about a foreign artiste because one seldom gets to watch his/her performance,” he says.

Malvika Nanda founder of events company, Big Beat
Malvika Nanda
founder of events company, Big Beat

‘People in the metros throng gigs featuring newer music’
Nanda says that there is a certain craze attached to international performers but Indian artistes are equally respected and wanted. “In big cities, we have a dedicated and discerning audience for classical music- be it Indian, western, indie, fusion or rock and other ‘non-mainstream’ genres. While there is an audience for Bollywood everywhere, people in the metros often throng gigs that feature newer music. Then again, in my experience of organising multi-genre festivals, I have seen that audiences here don’t just attend international acts, they also encourage performances by homegrown favourites,” she says.

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