Things aren’t so groovy in Hyderabad
By Manasa Mohan | Published: 13th November 2012 09:10 AM |
Music lovers in India are more than a pleased lot. With heavy weights like Swedish House Mafia and Guns N’ Roses scheduled for concerts in the next two months, it seems that India as a music destination has finally arrived. In the past few years the list of major international celebrities have slowly but steadily picked up. Names like Beyonce, Akon, Megadeath, Shakira, Bryan Adams and the more recent gigs by Pitbull, Enrique, Poets of the Fall and David Guetta have been opening up the doors for more people to walk through. But while that is definitely good news, citizens of Hyderabad sure feel the pang when the city’s name doesn’t feature on the tour list. The last major name that came to the city was Poets of Fall who performed at Leonia Resorts in August. However, the concert was almost like a ghost performance that only a few seemed to know about. Prior to that, Bryan Adams came to the city in February last year, which was the first major international act to grace the city. While many thought that this might perhaps start a much wanted trend, Hyderabad still remains an unlikely location.
Factors that determine a city as a likely concert location are many, starting with the strength of the fan base to infrastructure, local sponsors willing to fund the event and so on. In most instances, performing bands or musicians check their record sales in the area to determine how well received they are. But India which has a high number of online streamers, doesn’t honestly reflect its fan base in these statistics. So far cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi seem to enjoy the higher status.
Nikhil Chinapa, co-founder of the initiative Submerge which is responsible for bringing acts like Above & Beyond and Swedish House Mafia to the country, says, “When an international artist comes to the country, it’s mostly as a part of a world tour and dates are the first main factor. They don’t have much time to go to many cities and hence end up at just a few. When it comes to choosing those few locations, many factors come into the picture: artist’s preference, infrastructure support, the strength of the artist fan base, permissions and restrictions, inputs from sponsors, flight routing and connectivity, and so on. While the artist might not know much about the country, organisers still need to discuss the place with them and the natural choice is to pick a place that has the highest number of people likely to turn up.”
So how does Hyderabad fare on that scale? “The first choices are obvious – Mumbai and Delhi. After that Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune all come in the same category,” he opines.
While an interesting grouping of cities, he points out why Bengaluru usually takes the cake. “Music as an emotion is strongest in students. They form the bulk of the fan base. Given their limited resources, expenses like travel, food, stay and entry to the concert come into the picture. Compared to other cities, Bengaluru already has a large student population which makes it relatively more favourable.”
Udyan Sagar aka DJ Nucleya who opened for David Guetta in Delhi, has a slightly different take on the issue. Says the DJ who recently performed in the city, “I feel the audience here is not yet ready. Hyderbadis are not very open to all kinds of music. They like the regular popular stuff which they keep seeing on TV. If you try something new, they seem to get a little agitated. Resident DJs need to change that around by being more experimental and giving the audience a more varied exposure.”
Marketing also seems a bit lax when it comes to the city. When Poets of the Fall came to the city, save for a few hoardings and newspaper advertisements, the buzz around the concert was minimal. Fawwaz Ahmed, marketing manager at Leonia Resorts – the venue for the concert – agreed to as much. “The organising company that brought them here was a small and relatively new company. They were unorganised and tried to fit everything in at the last minute. Extensive marketing is very essential for such events. That is perhaps the only draw back for the city. Otherwise, I believe we have the crowds and definitely the infrastructure.”
Agreeing, C V Anand, commissioner of Traffic police and an avid music fan, says, “Infrastructure is certainly not the issue. But the popularity of international acts is relatively less compared to our own Bollywood musicians. I’ve seen bigger venues being used for concerts by Sunidhi Chauhan while the one for the Bryan Adams concert was relatively smaller. Also news that these concerts are happening does not go viral; there is hardly any enthusiasm from the marketing side.”
A more pressing point that overshadows all of these factors though is the incessant political turmoil. “Sure, that is also a probable reason that dissuades organisers. An unstable political situation isn’t very welcoming,” he points out.