"You either have a dream or a job", Akshay on his journey from Google to The Big Band Theory
MUMBAI: India is not only the fastest developing economy but also a rapid growing centre for major international cultural festivals. Starting from Coldplay to Billy Gibbons and now Justin Bieber, all the big names have been gracing our incredible country with their presence and it has just started. With such exposure, it is but obvious that more and more musicians and artistes are not only going to be produced but the current ones are also bound to evolve in this generation.
The good news is there won't be a dearth of varied artistes in India but the better news is there are people like Akshay Ahuja who have taken up the initiative to help create a platform for these helpless artistes in today’s time when exposure is handed out to people with a good number of following for obvious business reasons.
After working for Google, yes you read it right, for four years, last year in January he quit his job, yes you read it right again to start what he hates calling an event management company, The Big Band theory. Giving in to his true calling that is to promote musicians, Akshay says, “We are not genre-centric but at the same time we do not compromise on quality. We are a music company and the music has to be good. There are no two ways about it.” An artiste has to produce original music as a part of the clause and also needs to be a full-time musician in order to be hired by The Big Band Theory. Although Akshay does say, “Sometimes these college students surprise me with their talent and it’s difficult for them to meet the second requirement. But I can’t turn them down simply for the reason that they are good and not hiring them would just defeat the purpose of my company.”
The Big Band Theory that started with only two people last year now has offered over 200 shows to its modest base of 72 artistes who are hand-picked by eminent personality Susmit Sen from Indian Ocean, who is their mentor. They have organised gigs over many cities which include the likes of World Integrity Center in Dehradun, Delhi, Chandigarh, Trivandrum, Bengaluru, Pathankot, and Ludhiana. “It was surprising to see how non-commercial sets work so well in these unassuming venues. People do want to be served music outside of Bollywood and there aren’t many agencies catering to that want and that is the vision of my company. I want to create a community around original non-commercial music and in a place where the indie culture is growing ever so endlessly. I am pretty sure this will benefit both the musicians and the target audience,” said the young aspirant.
Akshay also wishes to turn one of his brainchild into a concept in rigorous practice which he calls the ‘Wing Ding.’ “I really wish I was a musician because that’s a beautiful way of expressing and there are so many people doing it so well but they hardly get opportunities. My goal is to popularise a festival which will feature only independent artistes and should yet generate a buzz that a Coldplay concert or any other famous act would. I don’t want people to swarm in expecting a big name rather the excitement should be centred around the original music and I would love to call it Wing Ding. That’s why building a community first is really important.”
Apart from just curating shows and promoting their artistes, The Big Band Theory also works as a consultancy for the artistes to help educate them about the intricacies of the professional world. This is essential for new artistes who usually don’t have much knowledge concerning the business involved in music. A Little bit of direction can really change their approach to showcasing their art which in turn can bring about a huge difference in their careers.
The ex-Google employee wholeheartedly thanks his team for making all of this possible. Although there are just six of them right now, they have been super efficient in their work. Suyash Bahuguna is the man behind the lens everytime there’s a gig and Manjot Singh manages relationships along with Hemanshi Dawar who is also a marketing intern. Mansimran Singh not only looks after the repertoire of the artistes but also helps in the selection process. Vipul Panth is the CTO of the company and Nikhil Sharma to quote Akshay “has been of immense support” to the company.
A big up to these guns working to make a difference.