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The Business of Making Music

The Onstage Music Foundation might just be the answer to the indie musician’s age old prayers

Aug 09, 2008

Courtesy of Onstage Music Foundation

It’s no secret that the independent music industry in India is starved of funding: though there have been efforts at all ends to promote independent artistes, very few have come through financially and that is where bands hit a dead end. Call it philanthropy or a cross between a bank and a scholarship: with the Onstage Music Foundation – the first of its kind in India – musicians now have the option of funding their projects with interest-free loans. It is the brainchild of Gaurav Vaz, co-founder of RadioVeRVe and bassist with the Raghu Dixit Project, and Vijay Nair, co-founder of Only Much Louder and Counter Culture Records are both closely associated with the indie music scene in their respective capacities and understand musicians’ plight well. After the idea came up during a discussion, the two immediately got down to figuring the dynamics and logistics of such a project. “It’s like a catch-22 situation; in such projects the money put in gets caught and sometimes lost,” says Nair. What they needed was a strong financier who trusted in the potential of the independent music industry and its ability to pay back. Nair bounced the idea off Jasbir Singh, CEO of Onstage Music, and Singh agreed to back the project financially. The foundation also has its share of supporters in established musicians as Ehsaan Noorani, Sandeep Chowta, Vishal Dadlani, Sandeep Chowta, Tarun Tripathi, and Keith Wallang amongst others.

The foundation seeks to fund well-thought-out projects keeping in mind the capabilities of a musician or band. “We will need to judge the outlook of a band and their seriousness, and they will have to give us a concrete plan on how they intend taking their music forward,” says Vaz. For example, if a band plans to play at an international festival and needs finances for their flight and stay, the foundation will provide them with the seed amount but only after the band has figured out how they intend on earning the money back – perhaps by gigging at smaller pubs abroad and optimising their trip on a professional level. As of now, the foundation has Rs 10 lakhs up on offer with Rs 50,000 being the upper limit for loaning out to per band/musician. Exceptions, of course, will be made in very promising cases.

Vaz believes that some musicians nurture incorrect notions about certain projects being very expensive when actually they can be worked out for cheaper ”“ the foundation also intends to work things out at reasonable rates, employing the knowledge of the vast network of musicians the foundation has access to. “There are some good folk bands in rural areas who are struggling with budgets of Rs 10,000-15,000 to tour within the country,” he adds. Veteran musicians as Vishal Dadlani and Ranjit Barot who are part of the foundation, seek to support, guide and offer expertise off their vast experience. “These musicians are also willing to allow promising artistes to record at their studio for free,” adds Nair. The website would be up and running in early August in a basic blog format with the application form. “We already have had 7-8 bands approach us”¦ we are going to wait for two months until a considerable number of applications are in. Then, perhaps in October we will have a prospective list of bands we would be looking to assist,” says Nair.

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