Aishwarya Natarajan, founder of Indianuance, on promoting Indian classical music through creative entrepreneurship
At any forum where the issue of patronage for classical music is brought up, the general consensus is that young people will have to take pride in our music for it to flourish all over again. And trying to do just that is Aishwarya Natarajan, the founder of Indianuance which is an artiste management and concert programming outfit dedicated to Indian classical music and its allied forms.We at YourStory caught up with Aishwarya to know more about how the business idea for Indianuance originated and also, about her experience at the British Council Young Music Entrepreneur Award which she won recently.
Aishwarya, tell us about your background? Have you always been interested in music?
Well, I spent my childhood in Delhi and started learning music when I was four years old. At home, we listened to all forms of music and not just Carnatic classical. So, over the areas, I’ve managed to develop a taste for various types of music.
I graduated from Delhi University and went on to do my MBA from Amity University. After my MBA, I took up a role in research. But I lasted less than a year in that place. Very soon, I realised that I wanted to be associated with music.The concepts of artiste management and concert programming are seldom associated with classical music. Did the business idea for Indianuance occur to you right after that research job?
At that point, I wanted to work with a record label. I shortlisted a few companies and applied for jobs. Eventually, I went to work for Music Today, the India Today group’s music label. The Carnatic music division at Music Today was defunct then. So, I helped resurrect it. After a couple of years, I moved to Saregama where I worked in the wellness and spiritual music space. We did some innovative work in the domain of public area music (like at hotels, parks, etc.).
One day, it hit me that performing artistes weren’t being managed by anyone. But the idea stayed an idea. I did bounce it off to a few artistes. They seemed interested. But nothing happened.
About a year and half back, I moved to Mumbai and did some freelance work for a while. I wanted to do a pilot of sorts in the artiste management space. To be honest, it was very frustrating. I strongly felt that classical music had a lot of potential. But it simply wasn’t being packaged and managed properly.
Then, I started working with Sikkil Gurucharan, a young Carnatic classical vocalist. Soon, I figured out that the pilot wasn’t possible along with my day job. Around that time, I also had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting creative people in Mumbai. I felt encouraged by all the crazy stuff that these young people were doing. So, I chucked the job and started off full-time in early 2010.How has the journey been so far?
Today, we have 6 artists on our roster. Some are exclusive and some aren’t. We do a lot of international tours and small music festivals along with solo concerts. On the cards is a 25-city tour with flautist Shashank. We also have one tour with Aruna Sairam, a leading Carnatic classical vocalist and one more with the Gundecha Brothers.
So, what’s Indianuance going to be focussing on in the coming months?
The idea, ultimately, is to get youngsters to listen to Indian classical music. We also run the Bombay Baithak where, with help from patrons of classical music, we put together chamber concerts in the form of small, intimate gatherings. Also, the focus is likely to be on international audiences. It’d be great to get non-Indians to tune in to Indian classical music. Plans are afoot to hire one more person and to professionalize the setup further.
You won the British Council Young Music Entrepreneur Award some time ago. How was the experience at YCE?
Two of my colleagues at my previous employer had applied to YCE before. So, that’s how I got to know about it. Then, British Council got in touch with me. In fact, I wasn’t even sure whether Indianuance was eligible for YCE. But they asked me to give it a shot and I’m glad that I did (laughs).
I’m looking forward to my trip to UK. I would love to attract some investments into Indianuance. Also, I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to meet new artistes and make some in-roads in the music festival circuit there.
In more ways than one, that’s music to our ears. We at YourStory wish Aishwarya and the entire team at Indianuance all the very best. To know more about this interesting venture, check out http://www.indianuance.com. Also, please share with us your thoughts about this story. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 25th March 2011 | Bangalore