| 24 Apr 2024
Farhad Wadia: "Live music industry needs a reality check"

I-Rock founder and E-18 CEO Farhad Wadia:

Current Live Music Scenario:

The supposedly burgeoning live concerts are not as healthy as many promoters would like the public to believe. The industry is banking too much on hype and needs a reality check.


Organizing a mid size live event costs at least Rs 30 lakhs and big events run into crores. And although the trend of attending live concerts and festivals is picking up, there are (just) not enough people willing to loosen their purse strings to make the events viable leaving promoters to rely heavily on sponsors.

Live events is a tough business and many of the organizers who got in foreign acts like Enrique Iglesias, Santana, Korn and Guns N’ Roses will think 30 times before getting them (to India) again. For example, the total sponsorship for Guns N’ Roses was Rs 1.5 crores and the figures of the venues having 20,000-26,000 audience were inflated. Even Santana only pulled in 5,500- 6,000 people; Korn was a disaster.

On the audience front, ticket sales are just not strong enough to afford foreign acts and their entourage. A foreign band pays its crew on a weekly basis. This works in circuits like Europe where 3-4 shows can be performed in a week and revenues are generated. This kind of frequency cannot be achieved in India- thereby increasing costs without increase in revenues. The foreign exchange rate is also skewed unfavorably against promoters, then there is the 25 per cent entertainment tax (to be paid in advance) all result in working against a successful show.

The sponsors, who are the main financers of the show, corner a sizable number of the tickets. These are  distributed to contest winners, friends and relatives leading to a significant reduction in ticket sales among concert goers.


The hyping of bands and manipulation of concert attendance figures is a foolish and dangerous trend that could adversely affect the business as a whole.

The truth is- these audiences claimed by promoters don’t exist. Many promoters are lying about the figures they claim. They have their own agenda, trying to build value and get in a sucker. The result of this stupidity could result in managers (of artists) say in London to accept the quoted figures and try to make a deal on behalf of their clients accordingly. The business is being killed by people like this.


The fact of the matter is that India does not have an infrastructure to hold live events of significant size. A show that expects 15- 20,000 people needs an arena with stands or a really big field with relay speakers- things that are not available yet. There are no mid- sized venues (3-4,000 capacity) either.


All is not gloom and doom however. The live event business will experience an overall growth with smaller acts successfully having shows at clubs and pubs. There will always be new fans of acts and who think they can pull it off. The organizers of Bryan Adams and Akon lost their shirt due to poor ticket sales and promoters of other highly publicized concerts were reduced to conducting distress sales of tickets. Festivals are also set to happen- bigger and better but not without sponsors who are a dying breed like dinosaurs.

In 2013, you can expect new promoters to die out, but the old ones will carry on. Promoters like Only Much louder (OML), DNA Entertainment, Independence Rock (I Rock) and Percept Live will grow but the new comers will not make it.