RadioandMusic
| 21 Jul 2018
Indiabeat co-founder Samiran Gupta - Our goal is to make that which is not mainstream commercially viable

If you have a yen for non-stop Jazz fusion, Indo Jazz fusion, Jazz Rock, Raga Rock, World, Mid Eastern, Crossover, Indipop and music with an Indian / MidEastern feel, it's now available just a click away. Samiran Gupta has entered the music scenario with Indiabeats, an online radio station and now a label that promotes Indo fusion.

Launched in August 2006, IndiaBeat has put together playlists starting with early works of Indian musicians playing with their Western counterparts - having just released two albums - Blue Incantation by Sanjay Mishra with special guest Jerry Garcia, and Taalisman by Pete Lockett and Amit Chatterjee.

Indiabeat Co-founder Samiran Gupta spoke about the future of the online radio station and label with Radioandmusic.com's Shabana Ali.

Excerpts:

What was the thought behind IndiaBeat?

IndiaBeat was started in 2006 on the Live365 network. We were very keen on getting into the music business. We studied the whole scenario and found that music distribution in India is both very complicated as well as sophisticated. In a country like India where there are diverse cultural traditions, it is easy to come up with a album. However, it is very difficult to promote and sell them. So, our website and a web radio were made mainly with the purpose of promoting music. And we settled on the Indo fusion genre.

What do you mean by Indo fusion?

Indo fusion is a fusion of two styles of music. When Indians play western music such as jazz, they have the choice to change the idiom to make the sound "Indian". Likewise, western musicians use Indian tunes and rhythms with a different feel. In this you have a cultural collaboration. This is no rocket science. The 1930s onwards, Jazz became very popular in France and the sound of the accordion and violin became very much a part of the jazz idiom there. Next, when the immigrants from the African colonies came to France, they brought with them their music and again, European jazz got changed one more time. Paris is arguably the capital of world music and Indo fusion is very much a part of world music. You should listen to Paban Das Baul who hails from rural Bengal and has a cult following in Europe. While he plays an ektara, his ensemble band is as multicultural as they come.

How is the site trying to bring about music with social networking?

Apart from our website www.indiabeat.in, which is going though an overhaul currently, we are very much present on www.myspace.com, where our artistes and listeners interact with us. We have found fans online that also help promote our station!

How is the company monetizing from online and offline content?

Right now, we are focusing on monetizing from the sales of CDs and live concerts. In the near future, we have plans to monetize with ads on our website. We are in talk with PPL regarding our content.

How are the artistes paid for by IndiaBeat?

We propose to share equally the money recovered from the sales of CDs with the artistes, after recovering costs. On the IndiaBeat label, the ethos is to promote music and our artistes and we think alike.


Will the site explore the mainstream music genre?


We will always be off centre from mainstream. Our goal is to make that which is not mainstream commercially viable. We also plan to focus on regional music and promote regional artistes.

What are the royalty issues one faces in India in making the music available online?
Our online radio is based on servers located in the USA and is governed by the USDMC Act. We do not earn any revenues from our station online and our bandwidth is below the commercial threshold - therefore it is not necessary for us to pay royalties there.


What is the tie up with EMI all about?

IndiaBeat will produce up to 15 albums per year and EMI Virgin will be distributing them. EMI Virgin has a fantastic production and distribution infrastructure and a great team of music buffs, which we are grateful to avail of.

Online radio is in a very nascent stage in India. Is it wise to popularise unknown music through such a medium?
That's an interesting question. The music that we are popularising is niche, but it's not meant only for the niche audience. Our audiences are global. This can be easily done with the internet medium. 20 years ago, did the term Sufi rock exist? Today, Sufi rock has become mainstream music. Yes, it's a challenge for us but there is space for everything in the market and we are just positioning ourselves in the unexplored area.


What is the response of western audiences to your website?

We get a lot of hits from the USA, Canada and European countries. But India is picking up very well too. The kind of music we play has strong demand in the West. They get an alternative take on India. Some of the biggest stars in the Indo Fusion genre are: Zakir Hussain, Debashish Bhattacharyya, Sanjay Mishra, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Deepak Ram and several others.


Do you have any direct competitors in this space?

Right now, we are the only one serving the audience. But I think the market is big enough and invite few competitors in the near future.

Who are the artistes you have recently tied up with and are looking forward to tie up?
We have signed up Sanjay Mishra, Broto Roy, Henrik Andersen, Pete Lockett, Amit Chatterjee, Shashank and we are in talks with several more. Our first year's pipeline looks very healthy indeed!

What are the latest releases of Indiabeat?

For the month of June we are launching two albums. The first one is a relaunch of Blue Incantation by Sanjay Mishra. The album was launched in USA in 1995 which had a huge response from the audience there. While, the second album, is by Amit Chatterjee and Pete Lockett named Talisman.

How long would it take for Internet radio to gain popularity in India?

Internet radio is very big across the world. As the Internet penetration in India increases, this mode of listening to music will also gain in popularity. In the US, Internet radio stations are very popular. As a matter of fact, FM stations have internet offerings to maintain brand loyalty.


How are you promoting your brand right now?

The only way some one will buy music is when they listen to it. So our marketing thrust is to get as much airplay as possible, extensive media coverage and be part of larger events.