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The Pandemic Effect: What’s On and What’s Next in Indian Music

Here’s how you can stay safe and still support Indian music from your homes

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Apr 07, 2020

Catch your favorite artists live on Instagram while you self-isolate. Photo: Pixabay

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For the seeable weeks, the music industry’s performers and creative minds move indoors, in order to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus. To keep the idea of live performances going, there have been several broadcasts across the board, from promoters, brands and more. 

The list below is constantly updating — last update April 24th.  

JioSaavn’s ‘Live Anywhere’ Series

Streaming platform JioSaavn initiated a series titled ‘Live Anywhere’ to keep the music thriving.  Broadcasted live from their Facebook page, the series has included performances by artists including Ankur Tewari and Euphoria frontman Dr. Palash Sen. The likes of musicians Nikhita Gandhi, Dhruv Vishvanath and Taba Chake will also go live as part of the series in the coming days. Also, each set will be recorded, using the Dolby On app, which will be packaged as an album for streaming within the JioSaavn app. All revenue generated from the streams will go to the artist. Fans can also pay what they want to support the artists ahead of each session via insider.in. 

Hungama Artist Aloud’s #StayAtHome #StayEntertained

Hungama Artist Aloud kicked off their daily livestream concerts on April 1st, featuring performances by the likes of Mame Khan, Shibani Kashyap and Alobo Naga. In their second week that runs up to the 14th, their series #StayAtHome #StayEntertained (streamed on Hungama Music and Artist Aloud’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts) brings together voices like Merlin D’Souza with saxophonist Rhys Sebastian (April 12th, 5 pm), Aabha Hanjura (April 8th, 4 pm), Manasi Scott (April 12th, 4 pm), Suneeta Rao (April 14th, 5 pm) and John Mpamei (April 10th, 4 pm), amongst others.  

Bumble x The Wild City Aim to Reconnect 

Positioned as “a virtual retreat where we hope to help you nurture your minds and bodies,” event and content company The Wild City has partnered with social app Bumble for a virtual event series which kicked off last Sunday with a workshop by singer, actor and activist Monica Dogra. While Dogra focused her livestream on meditation and ecstatic dance, future workshops and possibly performances are yet to be announced on a weekly basis, hosted via Zoom. Registrations are currently taking place via Bumble’s app

Kerplunk Goes Big With 50 Acts in A Week

The seventh edition of gig series Kerplunk will see a massively curated livestream from 50 artists between April 7th and 13th. This includes musicians Siddharth Basrur, Sidd Coutto, Hanita Bhambri and Aarifah Rebello as well as bands such as Anand Bhaskar Collective, Trance Effect and more. Other acts on board are NATE08, Yung. Raj, Inalab and Takar Nabam. Live streamed via music platform Qrated’s Instagram handle, the showcase also urges fans to contribute towards the initiative with all the proceeds going towards the artists. 

Unherd’s Unite and Untie Move 

Newly launched Bengaluru label Unherd has so far released music by prog band Rainburn and stoner duo Diarchy, with one more by alternative artist The Earth Below coming up this month, but they’ve got an eye on doing more than just spreading the tunes in the time of a pandemic. In a move to encourage aid through organizations such as Goonj, Voice of Stray Dogs and RAHI, Unherd will (until April 14th) sell CDs, merch and music at a discounted price, giving “money equal to these discount amounts from each sale to organisations that are doing great work under these trying circumstances.” The label will also absorb dropped price rates so that it does not affect artist revenue from sales. Buy on Artblot or Bandcamp.

BudXHome Pledges Money and Music 

Although their events have been prevented from taking place, Budweiser 0.0 is launching a new livestreaming experience called BUDXHOME via Mixmag’s Facebook page at 8 pm every day. Producer-DJs such as Anish Sood, Kaleekarma, Likwid and BLOT! Additionally, the brand has also pledged a total of Rs 1.5 lakh “with a purpose of aiding the affected nightlife community.” The amount will be disbursed per stream via relief organization India Nightlife Collective, going towards underground artists, DJs, technicians, producers, bartenders, security staff, sound engineers and other members.

Anahad Artist Relief Fund

After conducting a small scale survey amongst folk artists from five states, Anahad Foundation discovered that many would not be able to sustain without earnings beyond 15 days. To provide basic aid to folk artists, Anahad is streaming concerts under the initiative Chaukhat Ki Goonj for the span of a month and paying each artist Rs 1,000 per performance. Artists are currently recording 30-minute performances on their phones and sending it across to Anahad for streaming at 8 pm every night. Donations are accepted here.

Mr. Kev’s Goes Live Until He’s Done 

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With the national lockdown currently in place until April 14th, Chennai artist Mr. Kev aka Kevin Paul had already got a headstart on making his next album. The follow-up to his 2019 EP Dummy In Love: Detox Overdose, the next record is currently being prepped with a goal to finish by April 14th. Mr. Kev is more or less under lockdown for the most part and is regularly streaming his writing and recording process over on his Instagram page. With more than nine tracks in the can and even interests for collaborations, the album will be out later this year.

Relive Iconic Performances Held at the NCPA

Mumbai’s National Centre for the Performing Arts announced that they will be uploading performances from previous events on their YouTube channel every day as part of [email protected] which kicked off on April 3rd. The performances viewers can enjoy range from American jazz singer Mandy Gaines set last year to The Clifford Brown Legacy Band’s 2018 showcase and more. 

A New Ambient Compilation Born out of Social Isolation

Created in the last week of March 2020, producer, promoter and radio host Varun Desai aka Yidam from Kolkata compiled Social Isolation and released it on April 3rd. The 15-track album brings together ambient works from known and lesser known producers from across India and the world. This edition features everyone from New Delhi’s Corridors aka Rijul Victor to Bengaluru’s Eashwar Subramanian, Faheemul Hasan, Kolkata’s Oblique and more. Stream/buy here.

House Concert’s Community Transmission

Gig series House Concert introduced Community Transmission and programmed artists such as Suraj Mani, Shubhangi Joshi, Mahesh Raghunandan and Meera Desai among others for their Instagram livestream. Tune in every day for a relaxed live music experience from your home. 

United We Groove Gets Locked and Loaded

Mumbai’s long-running gig series United We Groove went virtual with a new series of livestreamed, pay what you want concerts called The Lockdown Sessions. Running from March 28th until April 14th, the Instagram live gig has so far hosted everyone from Hindi rock artist Anand Bhaskar to synthwave producer Dreamhour, indie/acoustic trio Cinema of Excess and rapper-singer Bawari Basanti, amongst others. Tune in on their Instagram page.

TikTok Brings the Music to Your Sofa 

Not one to be left behind in the livestreaming concert space, social networking and video content app TikTok is teaming up with rising stars in the music world for Sofa Concerts. Kicking off on April 2nd, the lineup includes Neha Kakkar, Shirley Setia, Salim Merchant, Arjun Kanungo, Armaan Malik, Dhvani Bhanushali, Jonita Gandhi, DJ Chetas, YoYo Honey Singh and more going live from their respective profiles. 

#SOCIALIndoors

Probably the only brand on this list with a state of the art live music venue at their disposal — antiSOCIAL in Mumbai — the restaurant chain kept up with their programming but only now they’ve moved it from the spacious Lower Parel outlet to our homes with #SOCIALIndoors. Livestreamed via their Facebook and Instagram profiles, they’ve programmed everyone from Dhruv Visvanath, Aditi Ramesh, Ankur Tewari and Tejas. Back for a third week now, tune in to catch the likes of electronica artist Curtain Blue, vocalist Ambika Nayak’s moniker Kayan.a, singer-songwriters Keshia B and Kamakshi Khanna.

Hive Pad’s Zoom Sessions

Mumbai-based gig organizer’s Hive Pad has taken to video communication service Zoom to host masterclasses. They kicked off with a Songwriting 101 session featuring artists such as Nush Lewis, Kamakshi Khanna, Hanita Bhambri and duo Second Sight. Currently working on adding more topics to cover, head over to their social media to stay updated. 

Motojojo’s Online Gatherings

Between April 3rd and 30th, art community Motojojo has curated three artists per day to perform live on their Instagram handle. The morning session is mostly instrumental music while the evening session will feature storytellers and comedians. The night session has so far included performances from artists such as Suraj Mani, Saby Singh, Bhuwin Khursija, Gaurav Kadu (Fiddlecraft), Derick Nathaniel, Roopam Sharma and more. Motojojo has also set up a webpage for people to donate in the fight against COVID-19. 

RED FM and T-Series Join Hands for The Care Concert 

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On April 11th, from 6 pm onwards, T-Series and RED FM’s YouTube pages (the former being a channel with a whopping 135 million subscribers) will host a virtual fundraising concert. In addition to finding remote hosts in the charismatic RJ Malishka and RJ Raunac, the performers streaming from their homes include Armaan and Amal Malik, Dhvani Bhanushali, Adnan Sami, Neha Kakkar, Tulsi Kumar, Parkriti Kakkar and more. A donation link for anyone wishing to contribute to the PM CARES fund will be up alongside the livestream concert.

Soundtank Sessions Pick a New Roost of Indian Indie 

After announcing that all its concerts would stand canceled due to the pandemic and national lockdown, New Delhi event organizers Ownage Entertainment’s SoundTank series went virtual with the SoundTank Sessions. A daily 8 pm livestream performance on their Instagram page, the sessions have so far featured electro-rock artist FuzzCulture, producer-singer Komorebi, blues rock singer-guitarist Diyatom Deb from SkyEyes and more. 

Vh1 India’s Qurantunes 

The music channel has not only begun programming a separate segment called Qurantunes since March 18th, they also began airing lyric videos for special singalong access. While international music programmed for Quarantunes appear throughout the day, the Sing Along segment comes on at 8 pm daily. Additionally, there’s also an Instagram live series which has so far featured singer-songwriters and producers such as Aditi Ramesh, Komorebi and more. Forthcoming editions will include singer Armaan Malik (April 9th), American singer-songwriter Gavin Haley (April 14th), Canada’s rising singer Johnny Orlando (April 12th) and American indie pop band The Aces (April 10th).

Their new day-long livestream programming series called Plugin returns on April 24th, from 5:30 pm onwards. Catch everyone from Nikhil Chinapa to Shan Vincent de Paul, Lost Stories, DJ Uri and more on their Instagram channel.

DIVINE’s Salute to the Frontline 

Mumbai rapper DIVINE and his label Gully Gang have teamed up with Budweiser Oneteam to kickstart Project Salaam, which also received a boost via his heartfelt new single “Salaam.” While the song — produced by the rapper’s go-to beatsmith Karan Kanchan — brings forward his respect for frontline workers fighting the spread of the pandemic, it also states stark realities of exploitation and social inequalities. Through Project Salaam, however, there’s Rs 10 lakh each donated to charity Give India and online medicine retailer PharmEasy.

MTV Beats Brings Music to Homes 

Starting Wednesday at 5 pm, MTV Beats is hosting the best and newest in Hindi commercial and Bollywood singers on their Instagram with #MusicBeatsMusicFromHome. On every day until April 14th, the likes of Darshan Raval, Palash Sen, Shalmali, Nikita Gandhi, Shashwat Singh, Jonita Gandhi, Dhvani Bhanushali, Tulsi Kumar and Akull will go live on the MTV Beats’ Instagram page. There’s also MTV Beats Farmaaish, where artists will take song requests during the livestream and Social-Distancing Chat for artists to get fans on a dual video talk through the course of their broadcast.

Streo’s Global Online Music Festival

Online platform Streo has put together the Global Online Music Festival featuring over 30 artists every week livestreaming sets from their own houses through their app. Performances will include the likes of Mumbai retro DJ Russel, Los Angeles techno artist Numeni, Ukraine psychedelic performer Liora, Pune trap artist A-Yo and more.

Rolling Stone India’s #AristsWFH 

While schools, colleges and offices have all been shut down, India’s artist community has also taken a big blow due to the Coronavirus pandemic with canceled gigs across the country. Worry not as Rolling Stone India has actively been presenting #ArtistsWFH via our Instagram handle featuring your favorite musicians, comedians and spoken word artists from singer-songwriter Raghav Meattle to funny lady Supaarwoman aka Supriya Joshi.

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