Veteran music extraordinaire Shamir Tandon speaks about his venture Music Boutique and all that lies ahead of him. “Artists become well-known when they have hits – In Bollywood or on digital platforms or in their non-film career,” declared composer Shamir Tandon when Music Plus got in touch with him to talk about his brain child Music Boutique, which offers a platform for non-film artists and their music. The platform aims to amplify non-film music in a way that establishes the platform as a one-stop-shop for people hunting for good music.
Speaking about what went behind the curation of Music Boutique, Tandon elaborated saying,
“We are trying to revive the famous Indi-pop era of the 90s. In those days, artists were really young! To draw parallels, 25 years ago in late 80s and mid-90s, Alisha Chinoy then is probably what Jonita Gandhi or Neha Kakkar is today. Daler Mehendi was like Guru Randhawa, Baba Sehgal like Divine. We are following a similar pattern.”
In July, Tandon released a property with smartphone manufacturer OnePlus called “OnePlus Playback”. The first season,
“Is a mixed bag of Punjabi artists like Guru, Rapper Divine, Jonita Gandhi, Neha Kakkar, and of course Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The idea was to have a mixture of artists who covered the entire spectrum of music with a singular focus to create good music. If a Coke Studio 1 in Season 1 has done some millions across 49 songs, One Plus Playback has done over 40 million with just one song. We want to differentiate ourselves from Coke Studio or any other platforms, by actually making sophisticated videos and not put artists in studios with their 10 musicians and ask them to start playing,” explained Tandon.
Talking further about how he conceived the entity,
“A lot of people keep talking about reviving non-film music, doing something for musicians outside film. But very few do something about this. I’ve always believed in letting people do their own thing, letting singers express their own music, outside of the constraints of Bollywood. I have been in the music industry for over two decades wearing various hats. From being a jingles composer to Bollywood to running a label, EMI, to being a consultant for Universal music, everywhere I have heard that one should definitely figure a model to make this work. That normally doesn’t happen! We only seem to look up to film music. So, I just thought, since record labels are not very anxious and they are not pushing non-film music vehemently because of poor or insufficient ROI, the internal investment is not very healthy. So, in order to get good ROI, many a time the record label started dictating terms to the artist about what kind of music had to be made. Consequentially, artists started feeling claustrophobic and didn’t feel they could freely fly and communicate directly with the consumer. So, we thought, “Why don’t we do an advertising-based model, like it is in various businesses, from print to television where the advertiser covers most of your costs.” So, the stress on the artist to either recover his investment or record label to recover their investment becomes minimal. The moment you take the stress of the investment out, and the platform invests in the video, repertoire and promotion etc. of the artist, a large part of the cost gets taken care by the brand. In return they want brand visibility. In this case what happens is that, the artist can make his own music, reach out to his fans directly. We were lucky that we got a brand like OnePlus who were ready to invest in non-film artists’ music and subsidize their cost of creating the audio-video repertoire. To couple this, a platform like YouTube was happy to host and pay the artist. This created a win-win for everybody with no pressure on the artist to either part from their revenue or get dictated on what kind of songs and video had to be made. In some cases, the songs that we are doing with the artist could be resting on a record label platform but in most cases its resting on the artist’s YouTube channel which will strengthen the artist’s presence and their communication directly with their fans. Just worked perfectly well.”
One may wonder how digital content and platforms can change the scenario with such a growing live music scene. Tandon commented saying,
“Unfortunately, the people who killed popular music in India were the television and music channels that shut. MTV became a general entertainment channel; Channel V is shut. There is no TV channel dedicated to music like it used to be in earlier times. Music programming had an artist of the month, artist of the week, etc. The consumption pattern in youth is changing. Hence, we chose a digital partner like YouTube where a maximum number of people go and watch. Hence, we are partnered with YouTube to host this property. Digital is the way to go. Of course, I have always believed in the live music in fact I think I am the first one in this industry to start the live business when I was running Virgin. I had Shaan, Shubha Mudgal, Junoon from Pakistan whose live gigs we were managing. I strongly believe we need to have good artist management companies in India. Hence, we need to give further impact to these artists, keep them sustained in the industry and also build artists from scratch who will then be able to have some great revenues in their live gigs. They go hand in hand.”
In the near future, Music Boutique is prepping to be able to lend content so as to foster musical relationships with brands and many OTT platforms. Tandon signed off saying,
“Some of the announcement are premature to make. But yes, the last video where Sridevi danced in 2017 before she passed away was done by us. Currently, we are doing the content for LG year by year, companies like SBI, and many more. Lots coming up.”