Since the lockdown, The Piano Man has been streaming live on their Facebook page. On May 17, 7:00pm onwards, a special live stream will mark 50 sessions of live streaming with four artistes, namely Karmen Roivassepp, Pablo Lapidusas, Nikhil Mawkin and Arjun Sagar Gupta. In conversation with The Sunday Standard, Arjun Sagar Gupta talks about the special live show, the challenges, the future of the industry post-COVID-19 and more.
Tell us about the 50th live streaming session.
We have some really great national and international artists. Karmen Roivassepp from Denmark, Pablo Lapidusas from Portugal – he is originally from Argentina and grew up in Brazil, Nikhil Mawkin – a dear friend and someone who supported us right from the start, and then I will be performing. So, four artists will cover about three hours of performance. All are serious jazz artists, and come from a slightly different traditional jazz background with 20-30 years of stage experience. This will be a beautiful show, with a lot of fun and great music.
What challenges did you face?
When we started, we didn’t have much live-streaming experience. So, everything we learnt, the whole evolution of the live streaming, happened in these 50 sessions. The first session we streamed was on March 21, a day before the lockdown, with Diyatom Deb, who was at my house. However, as we started infusing more videos together, we had to understand the mathematics of bandwidth and ensure we have consistent streaming. I was able to learn how to respond better to the artists and fish out interesting stories about their life.
You opt for more artist interviews than live shows. Why?
The reason why we don’t do too many live performances as oppose to interviews is to reach out to the patrons with the artists’ stories to create a stronger bond and to create a data base of stories for the younger artists to have something to guide them when they need to make decisions. Also, for many artists who don’t have good audio equipment at home, it’s difficult to put on a live show as better prerecorded material is available on the Internet. We are only identifying artists who have good recording material at home, so when we are doing live sessions at least the audio quality is good.
How do you look at the industry changing post COVID?
We are looking at three specific phases in this battle against the coronavirus – during the lockdown, which is a survival mode, post-lockdown pre-vaccine period, which will be a completely new world, and post-lockdown post-vaccine period that will see us returning quickly to the world we knew. The time we are most concerned about is the post-lockdown pre-vaccine period as we can’t be operational like we were. Security and healthcare become critical and so does social distancing. So, we have to figure a way to be viable with the fraction of the audience, that we need to keep the place running. From the venue side of the industry, we have some solutions that we are fine tuning. I was talking to Sukhbir Singh, who has been in the music industry for last 25 years, and he said the same thing that from the early 2000, most artists earn through live performances. However, in the given condition, the live performance market is disappearing. I believe that many artists in the pre-vaccine period will focus on teaching and creating subscriber-based revenue generation.