| 02 Dec 2023
Amsterdam Dance Event sets roadmap for electronic music scene in India

MUMBAI: For the first ever Amsterdam Dance Event Global Sessions in India, the emerging societies of electronic music from the live and digital space came under one roof for a three-day long discussion in Mumbai last week concerning several factors affecting the pace of the community's growth.

The first day, held at Todi Mill Social, opened the event with a fun DJ Cook Off between Indian DJs with DJ SA, Dualist Inquiry, Me & Her and DJ Shaan providing the attendees a taste of what they cooked, followed by the Sanaya-Jivraj led act 'Perfectiming' who provided the attending international delegates the taste of Indian electronic music.

'Resonate' – an ADE documentary kicked off the second day of the event. Day 2 comprised serious sessions ranging from the future of electronic music in Asia to the impact of electronic music in Bollywood and Hollywood.

Moderated by Shilpi Gupta (Red Bull Music Academy), the opening session of the day largely focused on the dynamics of the Indian electronic music. The panel comprised Brandon Bakshi (BMI), Rahul Kukreja (Livescape Asia), Jaideep Singh (Sr VP and Head Live Viacom18), Mahesh Narayanan (Global COO Saavn) and Jonathan Waller (Strikeforce 360). The panelists provided the observations and developments electronic music has made in their respective spaces.

Here are the key quotes from the discussion -

Brandon Bakshi: “To sustain a long career, the producer or the DJ needs to think commercial, and have the pop sensibility. Take Diplo as an example.” Diplo's fame escalated with collaborations that included Shakira, Kid Chudi, Bruno Mars, No Doubt and several others. The collaboration with Justin Bieber (and Skrillex) won him a Grammy, this year, and the DJ continues to remain more relevant than most DJs in the world. Bakshi reminded the audience that the Asian market is heading the curve that the European market traveled a few years ago, and the approach surely will benefit the musicians in the longer run.

Jaideep Singh: "India is the largest English-speaking market in Asia. When you compare the English-speaking audience to Singapore or Malaysia or China, the scope for growth is immense in India." Singh pointed out on how the sector of merchandises needs to be explored more. Singh heads the 'live' scene for Viacom and the yearly Supersonic has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception. Focusing on extensions (Supersonic Arcade, Campus), as Singh pointed out, continues to remain one of the major reasons for Supersonic's growth. The extensions allow lower investments and higher audience reach.

Mahesh Narayanan: "Saavn produces content in 11 languages, with 300mn streams per month. 15 per cent of the entire consumption is English content, and that's a massive growth compared to the figure of 3 per cent in 2013. If we check the latest data, the EDM consumption has grown thrice at Saavn.” Saavn recently brought Nucleya as their Artist-In-Residence and the partnership puts both in a win-win situation.

Rahul Kukreja: "When you compare the scenario to the eastern regions in Asia, the approach has been a bit different. Festivals and live shows in Singapore rely on ticketing, and Singapore does not rely on sponsors so much. In India, integration of sponsorship is key.” Kukreja co-founded Livescape group that organises several musical festivals in Malaysia including 'It's The Ship' – world's second largest EDM festival on a cruise.

As the day progressed, an amazing set of discussion moderated by Saul van Stapele (ADE) on how music festivals will be in 2026 was discussed by Peter Martin (Valis). Continuing into the discussion Megan Miller (Burning Man), Artur Mendes (Boom Festival), Peter Martin (Valis), Shailendra Singh (Sunburn Festival) engaged in a lively debate on growth, opportunities, implementation and innovation strategies for the electronic music festival market development.

Day 2 came to a close with Universal India's Devraj Sanyal on the panel joined by Jonathan Christiansen (HTGR), Andrew T. Mackay (Bombay Dub Orchestra/Bohemia Junction), DJ Chetas, Nucleya talking about the Hollywood-Bollywood crossover, moderated by Saul van Stapele (ADE). The discussion threw light upon the increasing influence of electronic music in the Bollywood and Hollywood movie industries, monetising electronic music and copyright acts in Hollywood and Bollywood, the international boom of music from Bollywood and synching the two industries.

Key excerpts from the session -

Devraj Sanyal: "India has always been a melody-driven market. And there will come a time when electronic dance music will be as mainstream (or popular) as Bollywood music." An optimistic Sanyal elaborated on how producers, in the past few years, adapted to the necessities and the 'Indian sound' to the tracks only makes the job of maximum outreach easier. "Nucleya and DJ Chetas will be popular in the West, because of their original sound."

Nucleya: "The treatment of electronic music can get much better in India. The South Indian film industries offer that freedom and access. All I ask is the movie makers to involve me at the script level. Let me know what you want, so I can give you what you need."

DJ Chetas: "If you need to survive, be in Bollywood industry. 80 per cent of the music I create is mainstream but I also believe in complete package."

The final day of the ADE Global sessions revolved around the monetization of electronic music on digital platforms, social differences achievable through EDM and the touring advantages and disadvantages in the country.

Moderated by OML's Vijay Nair, the panel on 'Touring the country and continent' included Dev Bhatia (Unmute), Jaideep Singh (Live Viacom), Karan Singh (Percept Live), Ritnika Narayan (MGMH) and Sam Hunt (The Windish Agency). Hunt observed a growing interest from Indian DJs and producers to reach out to the western booking agencies and studios and western scene's perception of Indian producers changing over the years. "We get a lot of phone calls and e-mails from Indian producers and I often communicate with the people I know in India to understand about the mailer's recognition in the country. For musicians in the States, the idea of going to India is exciting, but they do not see it as an opportunity to grow. But, from my experience, I think it's incorrect." Percept Live's Karan Singh also added how, unlike the South Asian touring circuit or the United States, India offers musicians to finish the multiple-tour in a weekend or so.  The moderator for the session – Vijay Nair – concluded the session with the vital aspects that has haunted the growth of any music festival in the country. "If you would see, a couple of years ago, there were over 40 music festivals in India, and that figure has drastically fell to around 25. Comparing the growth of music festivals in India to the West is like apples and oranges. Indian musical festivals face two problems – Venue, and the 10 per cent possibility of something that could potentially halt a music festival before it even starts," said Nair.

Apart from the discussions on the stage, several Indian and international DJs took over multiple curated stages across Mumbai. Performances from Arjun Vagale, Sandunes, Shaan, Anish Sood, Dualist Inquiry, Finnebassen, What So Not, Me & Her, Claptone and several others took over venues like Kitty Su, blueFROG, Todi Mill Social and Khar Social for a night of electronic music ensuring the sounds of the night justified the discussions on the day.  

The Tech Lab enabled fans to get professional advice from global electronic music professionals with its intimate networking session while the Networking Lounge gave fans access to Asia's booming electronic music scene with its speed dating sesssion. The Master Class Session saw Andrew T. MacKay (Bombay Dub Orchestra/Bohemia Junction) Shaan, Lost Stories, Sartek, Joshi, Ash Roy, Ashwin Mani Sharma discussing their career in-depth. Official Pioneer India DJ's Tuhin Mehta and Mash gave a demo of the brand new CDJ Nexus 2 system and Rekordbox software.