| 22 Jul 2024
(Aspiring) Musicians' Musicians

MUMBAI: The idea of setting up a recording studio arrives on a musician’s mind at some point during the professional growth, and more often than not, the idea dies with the decline in the professional curve or becomes lesser important citing other priorities. Musicians, in their twenties, focus on overcoming basic obstacles revolving around the music scene to create an identity of their own. However, few musicians have matured beyond linear approach and established themselves as musicians-cum-entrepreneurs.

Located at Mumbai’s music hub, Andheri suburb, is a young classical musician’s six-month old music institute – R&B Studios. Co-founded by Rupak Dhamankar, a professional tabla player, the studio offers services beyond what a regular music studio does. “R&B Studios is more than a music studio. It’s a modern school of music and jam room put together. Starting this week, the studio will also conduct music classes for aspiring artistes,” said Dhamankar. The intention of establishing a music institute arose after Dhamankar – active band member of Ravi Iyer’s fusion act - realised the generic approach used by the studios, these days, does not always end up benefitting the students. With equipments from India’s online retailer,, the studio offers classes for keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, table, drums and vocals. Operating on rent, the dream of a studio room turned into a reality for Dhamankar with the help of a friend, also the co-founder, Karamveer Bright.

Apart from the music institute, a jam room and the neatly designed studio, R&B studios will also conduct master classes inviting eminent musicians from the town on a regular basis. From a 14-year old to retired enthusiasts, R&B studios have received several enquiries since opening its shutters a fortnight ago. “The studio opened at the start of the year, and since January, around 15 bands have recorded and jammed at R&B. And all of these bands and musicians have returned to the studio again. It’s been only a fortnight that we announced about music classes. In two weeks, we have enrolled around ten students so far.” The USP of R&B studio is the personal focus on the students with batches not exceeding four students, and the opportunity provided to them to learn in a live environment. Each batch would cost a student Rs. 3,200 for four sessions per month; pretty reasonable amount for a project that involved an investment exceeding 20 lakh rupees.   

About twenty-five kilometers to the north of R&B studios, the bassist of alternative-progressive rock band Paradigm Shift, Ariel Samson, upon persistent requests to his father – who owns Dubai-based Benchmark Events and Exhibition LLC – founded Benchmark Studios investing an amount over ten times (i.e. 20 million rupees) compared to Dhamankar’s project. Set in a commercial region in the suburb of Thane, Benchmark Studios has been creating waves for its top of the line studio settings and equipments that has not only created an impression among the alternative music scene, but also garnered appreciation from the mainstream Marathi industry.

Within a year of its establishment, Benchmark Studio has hosted over fifty bands for recording sessions and regular jam efforts, and Samson explains opening a studio in Thane was a conscious decision. “Several people suggested us to open a studio in the Bandra-Andheri region, where most of the studios exist. But that wouldn’t have been anything unique. Thane has immense potential, and I say this from business point of view, wait for a few years for Thane to flourish. Few years down the line, we’d definitely make up for the mammoth investment that we have made,” informed Samson. With two studios, 1 vocal booth, a massive live room and a smoking room, the spacious 2500-sq-ft studio charges one-third cost when compared to the Yash Raj Studios. Similarly to R&B Studios, Benchmark Studio possesses equipments bought from, and the manager at Benchmark Studios (also the vocalist of Paradigm Shift), Kaushik Ramachandran cites the lack of quality recording studios during his initial stages as a professional musician as the reason for ‘no-compromise-on-quality- approach towards the essential aspects for the execution of the studio. Several bands have uploaded videos and shared experiences of jamming at the Benchmark Studios, and Ramachandran believes the word-of-mouth acts as better marketing tool than other elements.

To think about ways to recover the money is a natural tendency for any investor, and Samson and Dhawankar’s projects, surely, aren’t the classic case of shooting in the dark. Be it an investment involving two million or twenty, these musicians have their hearts at the right places. Some ‘support the scene’ by not giving up, few contribute through organizing DIY gigs and the Dhawankars, Samsons and Ramachandrans ensure the scene receives the necessary boost through provisions of basic aspects – a well-equipped studio, music classes at cheaper rates, and so on.