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Features |  22 Jun 2007 00:48 |  By RnMTeam

World Music Day Special- Making Sound Sense

Plug in to any radio station on Thursday and you will discover that it?‹?“s World Music Day today. A day that not many in the country know exists, and a day that even the broadcasters know holds little relevance to listeners.

But Indian airwaves on 21 June are abuzz with various sounds of music, from hip hop to jazz to reggae, instrumental, classical, bhangra rap, and of course, Bollywood. Blame it on the ehthusiasm of the horde of new players that has thronged the FM market if you will, but each station seems determined to extract maximum out of its association with music, musicians and the music industry on this day.

Stations like Radio City in Lucknow plan to bring live acousticmileage  radio first time to the city, while the station?‹?“s listeners in Bangalore can enjoy a contest wherein they have to identify recorded and packaged sounds from various locations in the city. The urge to innovate is apparent. On Radio Mirchi Mumbai?‹?“s Dil khol ke gao, RJs will descend on the streets with a dhol and get people to sing.

Big FM has taken to the ground with a tie-up with Zee TV?‹?“s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa winners at a Mumbai mall. Fever has decided to capitalise on the day with a nine day long extravaganza, wherein there will be on-ground promotions at pubs and restaurants. Listeners are being wooed with passes to concerts, in association with its print sibling Hindustan Times.

Radio Indigo in Bangalore is targeting the real music lovers, with its prizes that offer free piano and violin lessons at a local academy.

All this, apart from the hectic programming activity that is being spun around interviews with musicians, singers and their ilk, with most of the prominent names in the industry divided equally across all stations. But do listeners here genuinely care about World Music Day, or F?te de la Musique as it is known in France, the country of its origin, which marks the summer solstice with an ode to music by promoting amateur musicians and holding free street concerts?

Radio programming and marketing brains concur that the original concept does not hold much relevance in India. Says Red FM?‹?“s national programming head Vehrnon Ibrahim, "I dont think World Music Day has any serious relevance to Red FM listeners other than maybe being a day to celebrate music. As the only full on CHR group of radio stations, we play the pop music that our listeners love. We dont play many songs, but what we do play you can be sure are superhits. If we found that one day our listeners started to like what World Music actually stands for, we would start to play it."

But Ibrahim insists that music is the religion and soul of radio. "We live on it. So yes, we are celebrating World Music Day and this will run on all our stations. We celebrate it in the best place for us, in our back-to-back songs, at the top of each hour."

Others, like Fever?‹?“s station head Sajjad chunawala ... too agree that while the Day may not hold much significance for listeners, the station?‹?“s nine day extravaganza could help in awareness build up for various genres of music. "We could talk about jazz and make it relevant by playing a song from Parineeta that has elements of jazz, or talk about rock and intersperse it with songs by Rabbi or Kailash Kher who incorporate elements from those forms of music," he says.

But Radio City?‹?“s marketing head Rana Barua has a different take. "Listeners are very evolved these days. They are in tune to what has been happening around them. They look forward to any day or event that allows them to take some time off their busy hectic stressful life to rejuvenate and unwind. We are expecting great responses to our initiatives tomorrow." City?‹?“s programming would appear to come close to the spirit of the Day, with the stations planning to showcase musical talents of performers and musicians across genres of music, be they renowned or upcoming artistes. The station will also encourage talents of listeners who aspire to sing by providing them a platform to perform live on radio, says Barua.

But as Barua points out, it is the various ?‹?“international?‹?“ days spawned by canny marketers over the years that really hook listeners. Valentine?‹?“s Day, Mother?‹?“s Day, Father?‹?“s Day, the stations have been celebrating them all, helped on, no doubt, by the various marketing tie-ups and relevant ad revenues that accrue accordingly, as a market analyst points out.

Radio One?‹?“s programming head Vishnu Athreya has preferred to stay away from the hype and hoopla surrounding World Music Day. "No, there will be no special programming, though we will mention World Music Day and talk about it on our shows," he asserts. Acknowledging that the day has little significance to listeners, Athreya says that given a choice, he would rather mark Lata Mangeshkar?‹?“s birthday with special programming woven around it, as it would offer a connect with his listeners. "We cannot spin programming around a Day just for the heck of it," he says, adding that it makes sense instead to mark Women?‹?“s Day or Valentine?‹?“s Day with differentiated content, as that would be relevant to listeners.

As far as music is concerned, Bollywood music continues to rule listeners?‹?“ preferences. Says Ibrahim, "I have worked in music in India for over 20 years and trust me, Bollywood music is the music of India. What?‹?“s wrong with that? Why should anyone try to defend it or suggest that listeners should try something else? Besides, Bollywood is not a genre. Within Bollywood, there are many genres being used from Dance to Hiphip to Rock to Traditional Indian to Romantic to Rhythmic R&B etc¦ Popular Bollywood and Indi Pop songs are what Indians love to hear and today there are more great contemporary popular songs to hear than at any other time in our countrys history."

So, while the FM listener may be treated to a buffet spread of varied music genres on World Music Day, he doesn?‹?“t have much to fear. Bollywood music will be back on air, after a small break.