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Interviews |  09 Apr 2016 12:25 |  By RnMTeam

I worked in a garment company for two months: Soumini Sridhara Paul, VP, Artist Aloud

MUMBAI: She is undoubtedly a woman of steel for she not only handles her home but also her work with the same enthusiasm and zeal. Well, we are talking about none other than the Artist Aloud VP Soumini Sridhara Paul.

Paul has come a long way from where she began her career and she completely understands its importance. She not only loves her job, but she believes that it defines her. 

In conversation with, Paul talks about her journey so far. Excerpts.

You’ve been associated with music for a very long time. Did you always like music?

Let me go back to the time when I was in school. I used to keep singing. I was in the fifth standard when my dad got me to sing a song in a Doordarshan show called ‘Magic Lamp.’ I continued singing during my school and college days. In college, I was part of a band called ‘Scream.’ So, music was a huge part of my growing up years.

When and how did it turn into a profession?

I graduated with a B.Sc in statistics in 1994 from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and moved to Bengaluru with my mother. I had plans of pursuing an M.Sc in Bengaluru but it turned out that my B.Sc was a lot more advanced than their M.Sc. So, I met a job consultant with a friend who asked me what I liked doing. I told her that I had been singing all my life. This is when she introduced me to Prasad Bidappa. He was a well known fashion choreographer then and he let me sing in between the fashion parades with two other singers. We travelled to different parts of the country for these fashion shows. Later, I also did shows for other events people. During one such event, I met Ashish Kothari. He helped me put a demo together to help me get a music break.

Did the demo help you elevate your career?

After that, I came to Mumbai and met Suresh Thomas of Crescendo Music. Crescendo was flying then and they signed me as their artist. I did a remixed version of ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram' with them.  The song featured me and a few other artistes. Then I began working on my solo album, but a year from there, things did not seem to be going right for me. I developed health issues relating to my thyroid. Maybe I wasn’t doing riyaz the right way. During this time, Suresh called me in his office. It was January 1998. He said that we would have to end the contract and it felt like déjà vu to me. I knew it was going to happen.

Was that the end of your singing career?

I did try getting back. After Crescendo, I went back to Bengaluru where I meet a guitar player named Amit Heri. He helped me make another demo and I got back to Bombay (Mumbai now). I met all the record labels with that demo but nothing worked. I wanted to work in Mumbai so, I took up a job at a garment company.

It must have been a tough decision?

I was 22 and I had decided on not taking any money from my mother. That is why the job was important. Luckily, I use to get the royalties for the remix song that I had done with Crescendo and that took care of my accommodation then. But I still needed money, hence I worked in a garment company for two months. It felt like I would die if I continued working there. During this time I met music critic Parag Kamani and he told me that I should look at other options around music.

Did you start looking out for other options then?

Yes, I sent my resume to all the record labels I knew and nobody responded. The only label that I did not know was Universal Music. They too responded by saying they weren’t hiring then. However, the same lady called me back in 30 minutes and asked me to meet their marketing head Vinay Sapru. He hired me as a media executive, which meant I had to coordinate with the press, television and do in-store branding. Around that time, we released Falguni Pathak and Lesle Lewis’ albums. In one and a half months, the amount of things I learnt in Universal was something that people take a year and a half to learn otherwise.

This means your stay at Universal was a short one?

I happened to meet Mandar Thakur, who was at Channel V then. I don’t know what made Mandar feel good about our meeting that he convinced me to join Channel V.I joined channel V in 1998. The channel was in the midst of its third awards. My superior had just resigned and I took on more responsibilities. In 2000, we were taken over by Star and in 2001, Mandar decided to move.  After he left, I started heading music and artiste relations for Channel V.

How long were you with Channel V?

I put in my papers in October 2002. I loved the work there but when you get into a corporate setup, politics makes its way in. Plus, I was reporting to two bosses at the same time. This made things difficult and I decided to quit. During my notice period, I conceived and I did not look out for other job options.

When and how did you get back?

I had my first child in 2003. I did not do anything for two years. Once my daughter was a bit older, I started freelancing as an artist manager. This went on till 2007, during which period I handled Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, as well as Euphoria’s last album ‘Mehfuz.’

In 2008, I decided to get back to work full time. It was a final decision. I had met Gajendra Singh while promoting my artiste Sowmya Raoh. He asked me to join as an EP on ‘Amul STAR Voice Of India -2.’After this, I did a marathon concert for NDTV. But, at the end of the day, it was a production house. Therefore, after four months, they did not have any projects and I had to move out.

How has it been working for Artist Aloud?

Hungama has been a huge learning for me. I did not know much about the digital space when I joined Hungama. I have learnt everything on the job. Here, I am actually doing business so I have to be 100 per cent dedicated to it. Where else will I have the opportunity to do what I like to do and to be able to build it; to have the support of senior management and also be responsible for revenues? I don’t know why this company has shown the faith it has, but I don’t want to take it for granted. This is just not a job for me. I feel it defines me.