'Best in industry will guide us'

Updated: May 25, 2020, 07:57 IST | Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

En-route to learning the ropes of the trade to gain a stronger social-media foothold, Lost Stories duo Rishab Joshi and Prayag Mehta to be mentored by YouTube via its artiste-development platform, Foundry

 Rishab Joshi and Prayag Mehta
Rishab Joshi and Prayag Mehta

A glimpse at the names that have been associated with YouTube's Foundry programme before they achieved stardom, is likely to make Indians celebrate the addition of their like to the list. Lost Stories duo Rishab Joshi and Prayag Mehta, who were "hand-picked" to be part of the platform's artiste-development programme for 2020 — which will groom them to "use music and storytelling to engage fans all over the world" — are the first from the country to achieve the feat. They join the likes of Dua Lipa, Rosalia, Kenny Beats, and Omar Apollo, who have benefited from the initiative in the past. In an interview with mid-day, the two — who've also performed at the Tomorrowland festival — discuss why this development is promising.

Could you highlight how you were roped in to be part of this batch of Foundry?
Joshi: We were part of another week-long artiste-development programme called YouTube Nextup, where we were taught how to work on content [creation], and [maximise] streaming. After implementing what we learnt, we saw a meteoric spike [in viewership]. Those we met at the event recommended us for the global programme, Foundry.
Mehta: It's among the most elite programmes offered by any platform, and they pick only one artiste from the country. Nextup played a big role in helping us get in. While the Foundry programme runs for six months, we will collaborate with YouTube for a year.

As a duo that has already achieved immense attention, how do you think this programme will benefit you?
Joshi: We need some order and system when it comes to how we work. Since we are either travelling or working in the studio [we have limited time]. We don't have the big teams that artistes overseas do to enhance the content they put out on YouTube. With this, the quality of our content will improve, since the best in the industry will be guiding us. Also, there will be a chance to collaborate with [international] artistes who are part of this year's [class]. We started working with the [mentors] recently, and may interact with other artistes in the upcoming weeks or months. For now, we are being guided on how to make the most of what we wish to put out.
This is not just a marketing programme, but an artiste-development programme. We can have the best marketing agency on board, but even they will not be able to enable collaborations, because you can't force [other artistes to associate with you]. With Foundry, it is as though someone will be hand-picking artistes for us.
Mehta: Also, YouTube in itself is such a huge platform! Through this, we'll have a better understanding of it too.

Artistes have been debating if virtual gigs will be a means to generate income in the future. Can you weigh in? How is it to look into a camera and perform for an hour, not knowing how those watching you would be reacting to it?
Joshi: Once, when I was growing tired of frequent travels, I had suggested that we work from our living rooms. At that time, the idea was immediately discarded. Now, that is happening due to the circumstances. It is weird because we can no longer feed off the energy of the crowd when performing in our home studio. But, there is a personal interaction now. People comment, and we can take requests. During [live] shows, there's little room to experiment, because other technicians depend on us. So, we can't change the music depending on what viewers want. But, with online sets, we can read their comments, talk to them, and take requests. This helps them build their attention span too.

Do you think you can predict what trends will look like after this pandemic, or is it too early to judge that?
Mehta: You never know which new entertainment application may come out [to facilitate music creation in this situation]. Also, [we will not see results] if only few people come together to do something. All the record labels and music-management companies need to create a plan to generate income.

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