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News |  16 Feb 2009 18:02 |  By chiragsutar

Baajaa Gaajaa - a positive step for music biz

MUMBAI: A Google search on the words 'music expo' will show results like, WOMEX, SXSW and now even Baajaa Gaajaa.

Although it would be too early to say Baajaa Gaaja in same breath as that of the other music industry trade fairs that dot the industry calendar worldwide, the Pune event organised by Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan last week did seem to have the potential to become an influential platform which Indian musicians will hopefully look forward to attend in the future.

The three day expo brought everything under one roof for musicians and music entrepreneurs. From Independent labels, music instrument makers, event organisers and seminars on important issues like intellectual copyright laws – Baajaa Gaajaa had it all.

Not to forget, performances by bands like Swarathma, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma and hang player Prabhu Acharya that added colour to the event held at the Ishanya Mall on the outskirts of Pune.

Even though Baajaa Gaajaa as an initiative has just started (Mudgal says it will be an annual event and might even be staged abroad the next time round), the opportunities that it provided both to the participants and visitors were ample. For instance, as soon as Hang player Prabhu Acharya was done with his performance, a music label's A&R representative walked up to ask if he was interested in doing an album with their label. Similarly, music producer T Roy, who was keen to start his music media company was seen developing contacts at the expo, "I am here to make contacts as I plan to start a music media business soon," he said  "It's a good opportunity because everything is under one roof."

Who else other than musicians can understand issues which concern musicians? Baajaa Gaajaa stands out for this very reason - It's for the musicians, by the musicians. It's due to this understanding that one could find everything that was an absolute musician's delight. A musician could stroll in at the expo and try his hands on any instrument of his choice or meet up with manufacturers who can help customise the instrument according to his/her needs. The various instrument stalls had one of India's finest luthiers known to manufacture instruments like Sitar, Harmonium, Tabla and even electronic accompaniments to help musicians practise and learn 

It's not that all the stall owners made good business. Brijesh Bhargava, owner of music instrument store Bharagava Musik, was just there to support the initiative. On being asked if there were enough people buying his instruments, he said, "I am not really looking at this from the business point of view. Baajaa Gaajaa is a unique initiative and I just wanted to support this by making some contribution."   

One of the most sought after sessions was the documentary screening of films like Bishar Blues, Leaving Home (based on the band Indian Ocean) and Laya Project. The engaging talking session on intellectual property rights brought up the issue of the need for a separate body for the independent labels. Though the event was organised at a venue which could easily accommodate up to 15,000 people in its exhibition area and around 300 at the seminar hall, Baajaa Gaaja saw sparse a turn out despite the abundant provisions. If not the masses, at least more prominent musicians could have come in support for such an initiative. Also, much of the participation at the expo was by the Hindustani and rock music fraternity. Unfortunately, there was no representation by the Carnatic or the north east musicians who exist in large numbers.

In the last few years India has seen a huge rise in the number of independent record labels, and musicians who have taken to publishing and distributing their work independently. In the west, festivals like WOMEX (World Music Expo) and SXSW (South by South West) help a great deal for such independent labels in providing them with platform to collaborate, network and explore business possibilities. Besides entrepreneurs, upcoming artistes who perform at such expo stand a chance to get noticed by A&R representatives of various labels present there.

With Baajaa Gaajaa, India took its first step in the music expo scenario and exploring new possibilities in the business. Baajaa Gaajaa was both a first step, and also a 'firm' step in bringing the independent music scenario to a substantial level.