Spotlight on Electronic music at a Mumbai conference

The line-up of Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) boasts the who’s who of Indian Electronic music industry. This, however, is not a concert but a conference to discuss the current status and future of this genre. ADE kicked off on April 7 (and continues till Sunday) and is one of the first large scale networking sessions for the industry that has grown by multiple folds in the past decade.

Fireworks go off at an earlier edition of Sunburn music festival in GoaFireworks go off at an earlier edition of Sunburn music festival in Goa
Fireworks go off at an earlier edition of Sunburn music festival in GoaFireworks go off at an earlier edition of Sunburn music festival in Goa

While the world is their stage, Indian artistes and DJs are slowly but surely etching their name on this global music scape. But how do they size up? “In the past few years, the industry hasn’t just doubled but multiplied 10 times over. Earlier, DJs would have 100 or 200 loyal fans turn up for gigs; now DJs have moved out of the clubs and are rockstars in their own right, with lakhs of followers. Not just fans but the number of producers and artistes have also increased,” says Sarthack Sardana aka Sartek, who was part of an open Q&A session at the event yesterday. “Electronic music industry got huge in the West in the past two decades, but in India, the scene blew up in a short time in comparison,” believes DJ Shaan.

Arjun Vagale feels that every generation has a genre of music that is the sound of the time. Like ’90s had Hip-Hop and Rock, EDM has become the Pop music for this generation. “Today, EDM is not restricted to clubs, but is being played in our cars and at home too. A lot of factors are responsible for it. One of it also is that musicians from other genres are also using EDM. Pop acts like the Black Eyed Peas also shifted to Electronic music in 2009,” cites Vagale, who spoke about the rise of Electronic music in India on April 7.

Internet, the driving force
The audience for most forms of Electronic music, especially EDM, is young and digitally suave. One look at the crowd at EDM concerts and gigs across venues in the city establishes the fact. This means, that playing the social media game, is sometimes considered more important than making good music. “A club owner who wants to book you will certainly have a look at your popularity on social media. Records labels do too, but it’s more about the music that you make. Hence, many EDM artists are more into social media marketing than making good music,” says Karanvir Singh aka Kerano, whose song Breathing, recently topped the Beatport charts.

The Indian audience is also in sync with the sound at Coachella, or Tomorrowland. Likewise, demands and likes gets consumed in a flash, like a burger, feels Singh. There is an instant demand for the next best track. “The quantity has increased but its value has dropped. When we were young, we didn’t have direct access to our music gods and the latest sounds. But today, kids can message artistes and have access to infinite music. A track that is hot today is forgotten tomorrow,” reasons Vagale. The solution to this, Shaan feels, is to find your unique sound.

East vs West
With so many producers entering the scene, and countless festivals dotting India’s gig calendar, Indian DJs have several platforms to play live for the audience. However, international DJs remain the big-ticket draws. The local acts simply open for them. “We (Indians) have always had an inferiority complex. If a white boy jumps on stage we think he is superior. But slowly, this perception is changing; in three to four year’s time, we will be at the same level,” says an optimistic Vagale. Shaan feels that with strong talent management companies, PR and marketing, our musicians will find a good following internationally, too. “ADE has brought the entire community together and we have realised here how strong the industry is and it can go bigger,” he adds.

“EDM arrived here from the west European countries and we are just trying to follow them. So since it is new to us, it is fine to open for an international act. If a European musician is doing Bollywood music and has to open for a Shah Rukh Khan concert, I doubt he will have a problem,” suggests Sardana.

Label game
A very important factor that all musicians agree, is signing up with a good label. “You do feel restricted if you are signed by a label for a few tracks as they expect you to produce the sound that they push, but the kind of promotion and reach that you get is great for a young artiste,” says Singh. “Good labels help your music reach big DJs who play it at their concerts. If your music is not being played, it is pointless,” Vagale signs off.

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