What is a music conference and what happens there? Well, going by the schedule at the upcoming Deccan Alternative Music Conference, the answer seems to be “quite a lot.”
According to Prarthana Sen, co-founder of Neon Culture, a music business consultancy based out of Bengaluru, the first edition of this event combines the best of both a conference and musical showcase. “Most such conferences that happen in India are on a larger, more prestigious scale. But now, with the Indian independent music industry starting to grow, there’s not a lot of conversation happening at the actual stakeholder level,” says Prarthana.
“Artistes need to know how to run themselves as businesses; usually professionals who want to work in the music industry have to hustle and work five jobs to make ends meet. We noticed this gap, so we wanted to make this a business-to-community conversation,” she adds.
The Deccan Alternative Music Conference (DAMC), will see people who are running their own companies as well as talent and management agencies, conduct workshops and hold master classes. “DAMC is aimed at artistes, students and mid-level career professionals in music, who will be shaping the future of the industry. We want these conversations to start at the grassroot level and go from there,” says Prarthana.
Prarthana and co-founder Vishruti Bindal believe that regular events such as these would open up conversations about the music scene, especially in the Deccan region. “Places like Kochi and Odisha are starting to explore their own music industries. So we’re ready to have hyperlocal regional conversations.”
“It’s called the Deccan Alternative Music Conference as our approach is hyperlocal. We are starting with Bangalore as this is Neon Culture’s home city, but we plan to take this conference to a new city every year. The idea is that performances by artistes from the city will help attendees do a deep dive into the local music scene every year.”
While DAMC invited applications from all artistes, an anonymous jury chose musicians, “who already had some music out there and were ready to take it to the next level. These artistes would have realised the potential in performing live as well as in exploring other avenues of pitching their music outside their home city.”
Eight music acts have made it to the final list and participated in a series of virtual workshops. “We trained them on how to put pitches together for sync opportunities or for pitching to other showcases globally. It is to be expected when you perform to a room full of stakeholders.”
“I believe it’s particularly fitting because there’s are only two-three musicians in this list who perform in English — most are writing in a regional language.”
The finalists include Alva Kuuto, a Tulu band; Clan Bokka Phod whose USP is Dakhni rap; Ghauley Bhai, a group of Nepali musicians who met in Bengaluru; Kali, a Kannada rapper and Lakkshya, an instrumental band whose signature is contemporary music with elements of jazz and classical Carnatic music.
Participants attending the conference can also benefit from masterclasses and workshops on topics such as Rights Administration and Music Licensing, How the Money Flows, Artist Management 101 and the like.
“These conferences are a little atypical as we only have master classes and workshops by mid- to experience-level career professionals in music. There will be presentations by companies who can create opportunities for artistes, students and other music business professionals.”
That apart, intentional networking slots have been built into the conference, to make the conference as effective as possible.
The Bangalore Creative Circus (BCC) is the venue for the conference during the day, while Social Indiranagar and The Raft in Koramangala will be the venue for the showcase in the evening.
“We chose BCC for its circular economy because we’ve seen too many events where there’s way too much waste. We are working with BCC to make DAMC sustainable by using as much scrap material as possible,” says Prarthana.
Tickets for both are being sold separately, “Since anyone can come for a show, whereas a conference will see people with a different set of interests.”
Tickets to the Deccan Alternative Music Conference, to be held on February 9 and 10, are available on Skillbox. Details on workshop schedules are available on deccanalt.in or @neonculture.in on Instagram.