| 05 Feb 2023
XChange supports non-mainstream arts even though there are challenges: Sonya Mazumdar

The three day trade event ‘IndiEarthXChange’ for international music, film, and media is gearing up for its third edition which will take place from 5th to 7th December in Chennai. The event includes a series of conferences, panel discussions, networking sessions, and programming opportunities, as well as musical showcases and film screenings.

Through the trade event, it aims to build an infrastructure to enable sustainable business and growth. Sonya Mazumdar who is the CEO and director of EarthSync revealed details about the event to


What is your target in terms of attendees?

There are relatively very few Indian professionals participating in international trade events because of the high costs it entails, so XChange was born to bring those same networking opportunities to Indian professionals right here in India, accessible at a fraction of the cost. The international industry has been very supportive, and considers it worth investing time and money to be at XChange. I am delighted at the quality of Indian and international professionals XChange attracts, and while the growing delegate numbers at XChange is exciting - from 180 in 2012 to almost 300 in 2013 - I think it is far more important to ensure the quality of delegates and artistes for maximum business outcomes, rather than focus on increasing attendee numbers. We are encouraging public participation not just to explore the new sounds and watch the hard-to-access films at XChange's showcase festivals (entry is free), but to also engage in some of the really interesting conference sessions. 

How many artistes do you plan to reach-out to with this edition of the IndiEarth XChange?

We are now entering the third edition of XChange, and with every edition, XChange sees more business outcomes for the industry, both Indian and international artistes and related businesses, so we curate the showcase festival bearing this in mind. This year will see about 30 music acts performing from different corners of the world, as well as some very interesting international and Indian independent cinema, with eminent directors present at XChange for Q & A sessions.

How much has the Indie space grown from the time you started the conference?

What we have seen since starting the conference in 2012, is XChange’s ability to generate real business with tangible results within India, as well as an increase in international business. The non-mainstream sectors in India have huge potential both within and outside India, and we have seen independent artistes showcased at XChange getting booked for international festivals by programmers and venues that come to XChange. The international industry has set its eyes on XChange essentially for three reasons - the quality of the trade event and the insights into the Indian industry if offers, the fact that it showcases some of India’s best non-mainstream content, and the cost effectiveness of a single point credible access in India to connect with key Indian professionals to do business with.

XChange is a hub for Indian professionals from across India to engage in dialogue, become stakeholders in the development of the industry - in essence have a say in the growth of their businesses - and to forge a collective voice for setting industry standards for quality, professionalism and eventually perhaps policy change.

Why did you plan to include the journalism workshop?

Media is a very critical player in the development and growth of independent arts. It facilitates this by giving it the necessary programming/column space, and connecting the art to the audience, by bringing to light the cultural perspectives - from rural contexts to urban culture - that are so essential in creating the audience-art connect. Media has the power to develop new audiences by bringing new content to its audience. Simon Broughton – who will be conducting the workshop – is editor in chief of Songlines Magazine, one of the most prestigious world music publications. Simon has worked with the BBC, has been the main music critic with the London Evening Standard since 2002, and is also a filmmaker and co-editor of the Rough Guide to World Music (Penguin) – so he is an absolute treasure trove of knowledge and information, and will be sharing some of his insights during the workshop.

Highlight some key attendees/panels/sessions which will be crucial for the conference?

We have got delegates like Gerald Seligman who has been the General Director of WOMEX  joining us this year; we have got some key national and international Media who will be present including Radhika Bordia from NDTV, Anita Iyer from Soundbox, and Simon Broughton from Songlines UK. We also have international venues like L’Astrolabe (France) participating, and programmers from international festivals like Patrick de Groote of SFinks (Belgium) and Jerome Galbert of Sakifo (Reunion Island), to name a few. We are also hosting a series of workshops including SoundLab 2014 with Border Movement and Goethe Institut conducting a workshop on Digital Music Production. On the film side, Nilotpal Majumdar of DocEdge will be conducting a workshop on pitching, and Bastien Dubois on his animation travel series so lots to look forward to. We also have some keynote speakers such as Samir Bangara and Jackson Allers.

What will be the challenge this year?

The perennial challenge is finding funding for initiatives like XChange that support anything non-mainstream. We choose to keep the music and film festivals free to encourage audience participation and development of the market. XChange also aims to inculcate a ‘stake holder’ ethos in the independent industry to set in place models that will make non-mainstream businesses sustainable, and for that each artiste and business in the independent segment needs to proactively participate. Towards this, XChange 2014 has set a nominal registration fee for professionals - quite normal for most trade events anywhere. While this is definitely not enough to cover the event cost, most professionals realise the value and the returns for business that is enabled through XChange. We are sincerely appreciative of the support of many who come forward to bear some of the costs for XChange, the collective is definitely growing. But yes, it is a financial challenge, but this is who we are, our work; it is where our passion lies, so we find ways to make it happen every year.