| 21 Apr 2024
Can Indian Electronic Music festivals survive and grow with the European approach?

MUMBAI: The Exchange x AVA, organised by UK Trade & Investment and Submerge at the Khar Social, had panellists discuss on aspects related to the electronic music. Electronic music majorly relies on the live events and music festivals, and the factors have been a driving force for the evolution of electronic scene over the two decades.

Presented by Mark Gordon, the Programme Developer for Generator NI (a young initiative to promote and grow the Northern Ireland's music industry), the second panel brought the topics related to music festivals (electronic or otherwise) and the challenges faced universally. Sarah McBriar, Creative Producer and Founder of Up Productions and AVA, joined DJ and Supersonic Curator Nikhil Chinapa for the forty-five minutes discussion on the contrasts between the music festivals of Europe and India, and the methods both could implement towards the growth of two markets.

McBriar emphasised the differences between the two 'spaces' extends beyond the line-ups. Teaming up with radio stations, emphasis on visual arts, and adding elements with every passing edition and the ability to survive in a highly competitive game puts Europe ahead of the curve in the race.

"European countries have realised the scope of the music and the opportunities. At the AVA, we have teamed up with radio stations, and the stations promote these artists by providing air time on the channels. Another example of how some big European festivals work is the emphasis on driving the festival grow into a 'brand'. In the UK, line-ups are not announced because the brand of the festival sells," said McBriar. McBriar provided the example of Glastonbury festival (her inspiration behind venturing into live space) on the 'legacy' of the festivals and how the line-ups does not have a direct effect on the festival's success.

Nikhil Chinapa's opinion on 'branding the festival' differed from McBriar's, and the DJ used Supersonic's growth to prove his conclusion. The founder of Submerge and the former curator of Sunburn Festival, Chinapa argues the festivals (Sunburn and Supersonic) stay relevant as long as the focus remains on the fans. Indian market, as the 2000s proved, opened its doors for electronic music and the current scenario has just scratched the tip of the iceberg (of what the scene will eventually grow into).

Chinapa, however, points out the surprising drop in the ticket sales, and the implementation of inadequate ideas affecting the growth of the scene has particularly been one of the factors for the stagnancy. Elaborating on the issue, Chinapa added, "The truth remains that we are not spending enough time promoting the music. And the approaches taken have not been enough to grow the community. Revenue models based on tickets is challenging. However, the gradual changes can be noticed, and thanks to the amazing sponsors, the festivals experienced growth with every edition."

The announcement of Disclosure for the last edition of VH1 Supersonic created a buzz on the social media, and the build up produced the necessary attention to the artist. "Not many people were aware of the act- Disclosure. The announcement led to the homework, because unlike fans of other regions, Indian fans like do their homework (on the artist and the music)," joked Chinapa.

The Awakenings debuted at The Supersonic, in 2015, and Chinapa explained partnering with European brands could be the way forward for Indian festival organisers.