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Vipin Pungalia: ‘Through Sennheiser Top 50, We Want to Motivate Bands Across All Genres’

The director of Sennheiser India’s professional segment talks about providing a national platform for musicians through the band hunt

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Sep 24, 2016
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Parvaaz right after winning the Sennheiser Top 50 contest. Photo: Prashin Jagger.

Parvaaz pose with their trophy after winning the Sennheiser Top 50 contest. Photo: Prashin Jagger.

At its core, the Sennheiser Top 50 national band hunt is a gateway for some of the best bands in India to showcase their talent. At a time when the indie music scene has little to no mainstream presence or acknowledgment, Sennheiser India created the Top 50 contest to motivate musicians to keep going and work towards achieving success. “Sennheiser wants to help artists carve a place for themselves in the competitive and growing music industry,” says Vipin Pungalia, Director, Sennheiser’s  Professional Segment.

The second edition of Sennheiser Top 50 received entries from 370 across India. The top 50 bands were selected by a power jury comprising folk artist/playback singer Papon, veteran rocker and Indus Creed vocalist Uday Benegal and renowned recording engineer Ashish Manchanda from Flying Carpet Productions. The top five bands comprised New Delhi rockers Barefaced Liar, pop-funk act Peepal Tree, Mumbai-based alt rock act Daira, prog rockers Symphony Novel and psychedelic/prog band Parvaaz who battled it out at the grand finale held at Hard Rock Cafe Worli on September 22nd. Parvaaz emerged winners and bagged a two-year endorsement deal with Sennheiser besides grabbing gears worth lakhs.

In an interview with ROLLING STONE India, Pungalia explains in detail the motivation behind Sennheiser Top 50, how difficult it is to push Indian audiences towards embracing the independent music scene and Sennheiser India’s plans for more projects in the future.

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As a premium music gear brand, how important is it for Sennheiser to be invested in initiatives like Sennheiser Top 50 and promote budding talent?
Sennheiser has always focused on bringing the best and perfect sound experience to its consumers. Given that the country hosts a plethora of hidden talent which includes a lot of independent bands, Sennheiser wants to give them a platform to not just showcase their talent but also help them carve a place for themselves in the competitive and growing music industry. Through this unique platform we wanted to reach out to and motivate bands across all genres who want to share their music with the rest of the world and we believe we have been able to reach out to these people and create a difference. In the first season, we saw tremendous response and engagement. Over 200 bands across all genres – pop, rock, fusion, classic, metal, jazz and blues participated in the contest. And with the season, we got bigger and better. More than 350 bands registered with their original compositions which is an achievement in itself!

What are things currently needed to bolster the indie music scene in India?
Apart from a platform to bring the talent to the forefront, we need to encourage artists across the country to come forward with their passion and unique compositions and participate in such platforms. Reaching out to these bands in remote areas is also sometimes a challenge. Thus we at Sennheiser have tried to reach them out across different platforms and help them understand the concept of Sennheiser Top 50.

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Any other music initiatives that Sennheiser is planning in the future?
We will be concentrating on Sennheiser Top 50 as a property and increase the stakes with every season. We also want to help professionals capture and create audio in the best possible way. This includes coping up with the ever changing requirements in the broadcast industry, provide end-to-end services, meet the demanding technical solutions for concerts, mega events and increasing studio content, create flawless experiences across categories.

What have been the biggest challenges in putting together a nationwide band hunt?
As stated above, the biggest challenge has been to create a positive mind-set amongst the target audience which is not just end consumers but the bands/artists in itself. The talent is there but what is lacking is a platform to showcase and grow the talent. Thus helping them garner the courage to come forward and participate in a contest as big as Sennheiser Top 50 has been our biggest success.

Your experience as far as joining hands with Rolling Stone India as managing partner on Sennheiser Top 50?
The experience has been flawless. We needed support in terms of reaching out effectively to our target audience and that is what we have received from Rolling Stone India. We hope that we continue our association going forward and make the Independent music scene more popular.

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