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Carl Pei: ‘Music Has Always Been An Important Part of Who We Are’

The OnePlus co-founder tells us more about the inception of the OnePlus Music Festival and why India is the perfect location for the first edition

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Riddhi Chakraborty Nov 12, 2019

Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus. Photo: Courtesy of OnePlus

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We’re getting closer and closer to the first-ever edition of the OnePlus Music Festival and with just four days left to go, the excitement has spilled onto social media. Headliner Katy Perry’s earlier-than-expected arrival in Mumbai today had fans and the press in a tizzy, the scramble for tickets picking up and social media hysteria including speculations on when co-headliner Dua Lipa will arrive.

OnePlus co-founder and inceptor of the music festival Carl Pei however, is the picture of calm. We ask if he’s nervous about the debut of what will definitely be one of the biggest cultural movements by a tech giant, and he sidesteps the question so smoothly, I’m a little jealous; “I’m super excited about this project finally coming to life,” he says. “I’m sure that this will be a phenomenal experience for thousands of our community members and music fans in India.”

In addition to Perry and Lipa, the star-studded lineup features Bollywood music director and vocalist Amit Trivedi, 22-year-old viral Pune electronica hitmaker Ritviz, Hindi rock band The Local Train and alt-rockers Aswekeepsearching, all set to take the stage at DY Patil Stadium this Sunday. It’s probably the biggest pop offering since Justin Bieber’s 2017 Mumbai debut and Pei is confident the OnePlus Music Festival will open doors for more artists to understand India as a viable music market. “[The] access to stars like Katy Perry and Dua Lipa were limited with (international artists) having limited exposure to the Indian market,” Pei explains, adding, “We seek to bridge this gap by bringing the best of the music world to India for a never-witnessed-before experience.”

In this exclusive interview with Rolling Stone India, the 30-year-old tech entrepreneur tells us about OnePlus’ relationship with music, connecting with their Indian consumers on a deeper level and the global movement he hopes to build with the start of the first OnePlus Music Festival.

Tell us a little bit about the steps leading up to the conceptualization of the OnePlus Music Festival–how did you get the idea to create an event like this and how does it fit the OnePlus brand?

OnePlus has always been a community-focused brand. We believe that constant engagement with our users will help them understand and relate to our vision of building a socially engaged and user-first technology company. We always hold our humble gratitude to our users as we understand the importance of working with our community to build up our brand and products, just like what it says on our package – ‘Created together with our fans.’ The OnePlus Music Festival is a great way to extend our unique experience to our community. Besides our passion about the tech industry, music has always been an important part of who we are. So, when it comes to finding a unique way to celebrate with our community and bring everyone together, hosting a music festival immediately came to our mind.

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Why did you choose to have the first edition in India? Do you have plans for more on-ground concerts and entertainment events in the country?

India is a musically diverse country, but there is a lack of one platform where music enthusiasts come together to discover music and watch their favorite artists in action. Also, their access to stars like Katy Perry and Dua Lipa were limited with (international artists) having limited exposure to the Indian market. We seek to bridge this gap by bringing the best of the music world to India for a never-witnessed-before experience. At OnePlus, we engage with our community to understand their needs and expectations from us. Going forward, we’d like to continue what we’re doing with our community by creating memorable and meaningful experiences for them through tech, music and beyond. This is just the beginning of our experiment that would lead to bigger things in the future.

How did you go about deciding on which artists you’d like to feature on the line-up?

When it came to the line-up, our aim was to bring together a mélange of artists from around the world – upcoming and established stars in their respective genres. Katy Perry and Dua Lipa are both strong women that are uber successful in their fields. They represent female empowerment and are idols that a lot of our youth look up to. They had both come to India before and have been infatuated with the country. When we spoke to Katy, she didn’t hesitate and wanted to be a part of it. She is very welcoming towards India and has been very proactive about working with us. In fact, she’s even a bit of a tech enthusiast. She has requested us for OnePlus devices for her and her team so they can experience and use it. Katy Perry has been famous for reinventing herself and giving fans larger than life performances. Whether it’s her over-the-top costumes, power packed shows or catchy songs, Katy Perry leaves fans wanting more. Dua Lipa emerged into the music scene by connecting with her fans through a social media app. Quickly, since her rather recent debut, she has won three Brit Awards and two Grammy Awards, and now stands to be a prominent pop culture icon redefining the global music space

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With OnePlus now stepping into the live entertainment space, how do you feel this will influence the relationship between consumers and the brand going forward?

What I am most excited about is being able to create a memory for our community. There’s a saying that while people may forget what you say or do, they will not forget how you make them feel, which is what we want to achieve with this music festival–something they can remember, something that will stay in their hearts.

How are you personally feeling about the launch? Are you nervous, excited?

I’m super excited about this project finally coming to life, and I’m sure that this will be a phenomenal experience for thousands of our community members and music fans in India.

You’ve managed to add two of the biggest names in pop music to the lineup–Dua Lipa and Katy Perry. Who else would you consider a dream addition for future editions of the festival?

The OnePlus Music Festival is all about bringing a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our community members. So, we would definitely consider a music icon who appeals to our community the most, and this would be a call that our community would make!

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