With digital concerts picking up steam, a look at how new players in India’s livestream music space are faring
There’s been plenty at work on the technological as well as creative front on how the music experience can be moved from the festival to something that can keep fans glued to their screens.
In navigating the world of digital concerts, some could point to livestreams and pre-recorded premieres as nothing new. But now that it’s arguably the only option for musicians to perform for an audience, virtual gigs have undertaken a bunch of iterations – from in-game concerts and 3D avatars of DJs to audio-only streams and even full production band performances becoming possible.
Barring that wedding gig that Guru Randhawa performed when lockdown restrictions eased, there’s been plenty at work on the technological as well as creative front on how the music experience can be moved from the festival to something that can keep fans glued to their screens and tuned in to the sound in rapt attention. Here’s what has caught our attention so far:
Pagal Haina Records x Gramrphone
To bolster artist-fan relationships in the time of the pandemic, New Delhi record label Pagal Haina teamed up with UK company Gramrphone to launch an audio-only livestream concert at the end of May. With a recorded total of 445 unique listeners over the span of the four-hour free stream, it was perhaps a testing ground for how much fans valued audio over just watching a musician in their bedroom perform. Pagal Haina founder Dhruv Singh says, “At the time we were still on the fence about live-streaming but after speaking to them and doing a couple of test streams, we realised the potential, not to mention the clearly superior audio quality compared to other platforms which was the clincher.” Pagal Haina’s recent signee, bassist-producer Hashbass aka Harshit Misra, is also gearing up for audio-only concerts for label Gently Altered’s own livestream initiative, Altered TV.
Pegged as an “interdisciplinary OTT performance space in India for independent artists”, Artsqft is founded by percussionist-composer Viveick Rajagopalan and Bengaluru-based software engineer/music producer Atul Shukla. They have so far hosted concerts for the Task Force for Music and Arts, Nagaland, veteran veena artist Rajhesh Vaidhya among others, offering green room experiences and more with the aid of free to use program OBS aka Open Broadcaster Software. These shows are mostly ticketed but can also be aired for free via the platform. The FAQ section of the platform notes about their payment model, “We are open to working out the best possible revenue share model. Our priority is to enable artists monetise their show and keep most of it. We are estimating 10-20 percent cut to recover costs of setting up and delivering your shows while also make ArtSquareFeet sustainable as business.”
A charity show to 'raise one million rupees for PPE kits' for health workers, design and event production company Transhuman Collective launched Unrated as a virtual festival to take place on 18 and 19 July. They’re creating a space station for a stage, superimposing astronaut suits on the 3D avatars of DJ-producers such as Vinayak^a, Calm Chor, OX7GEN, Zokhum and clearly trying to sell this as well as possible for any fans of spaced out electronic music. With about Rs 37,000 raised so far, the cause behind Unrated is certainly noble and with a new experience in store, this might just be a leap worth taking for fans.
While Bengaluru has now gone into a week-long lockdown in a bid to bring down its COVID-19 case count, rock band Perfect Strangers’ guitarist Debjeet Basu and Richard Andrew Dudley teamed up to create a venue that was fully equipped for a band to not just jam but livestream the entire performance in high quality video and audio via ticketing and event platform Skillbox. With over 160 tickets selling for the Perfect Strangers livestream last month, novelty value might also play a part in how well Streamphony will fare in the months to come, but also, of course, the changing pandemic restrictions in the city. For now, however, Streamphony has built its rep for private gigs and corporate events, which have also moved successfully into the virtual realm.
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Cannot believe after seeing the response to our concept, 'Safe & Sound - India's first social distancing party experiment', that we put this whole thing together in less than 7 days. Quite surreal to see the entire clubbing & nightlife fraternity supporting the concept & sharing it on their feed & via messages. It has been an extremely challenging few months battling through the fact that our industry is at a stand-still & we have no form of income coming in, all shows cancelled until further notice & uncertainty on when all this will be back to normal. This move has come like a ray of hope in the direction of a possible solution for our industry & artists. This might not be a perfect working model yet, but its definitely a start & we intend to find a version that can be easily adopted by artists & clubs across the country while fighting our way back to normalcy. None of this would have been possible without our partners @thehubbengaluru @azaan_sait @vikram.nkmar & crew & our brother @myronmohit @the_unscripted who poured in their faith & trust into this project just as much as we did! And of course our iron hearted @answermusic FAM/Crew @viswas.iyer , @ameenabdulah , @salim_a_n , @blackgrids_ who really stepped up & made this happen against all odds. Extremely grateful to be blessed with the best! <3 A big shout out to all our partners across India for their support, it takes a few forward thinking brands like these to challenge the status quo. @incawards.in @euriskaindia @prismhyderabad @playboyclubchandigarh @theparkchennai @bookmyshowin @sharkandink @soho_delhi @thehighspirits @antisocialoffline @redbullindia @svamidrinks This is the future, WE are the ANSWER! 🖤 Track ID: ANSWER - ID (Unreleased)
As strange as it looked, there was, in fact, an event in Bengaluru which laid claim to being “India’s first social distancing party experiment” which was put together at the Hub on 7 June. Led by electronic duo Answer, the event was also livestreamed with the aim of helping audiences gain 'social confidence' to attend events whenever things eventually opened up. Arjun Nair, part of Answer, says the venue had permission to host people at their space, with about 16 people in total counting as 'participants'. While another event of this sort remains to be seen, it was definitely a bold step, aided by event company, The Unscripted. Nair says, “This model of parties is here to stay, for a while at least. Our research and experiments will continue till this is a model that's widely accepted and executed across live events on the road back to normalcy.”
Ritviz, Nucleya and Anish Sood at RetroFuture
Also launching a 360 VR livestream experience this week – on 18 July, in fact – is artist company Under The Radar, whose roster currently boasts of three of the most Indian electronic music producers – Nucleya, Anish Sood and Ritviz. The event, for which tickets are currently selling at Rs 299, notes, “Not A 90-minute gig, not a 90-minute festival, but a 90-minute immersive experience. RetroFuture is the mixing pot of your favourite artists’ identities from the past, the present & the future – music, cinematography and virtual reality. Designed to transport you to multiple worlds, this new age music experience is set to redefine your perception of reality.”
Although launched with a month full of gigs featuring singer-songwriters, producers and more, GigSync’s Listn.TV livestream concert series is currently on hold to figure out technical issues for a smoother relaunch. Founder Aakash Moitra tells us they aim to go from their current nascent stage to bring more functionality between artists and fans. For now, though, he mentions there are multiple camera angles, filters, remote editing and emphasis on audio quality that is being focused on. “Essentially, what we all need to learn is the art of storytelling through a live stream and experimenting with the added capabilities that live streaming allows us to have,” he says.
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