Behind The Scene: A tete-a-tete with Priyanka Shetty

By Jubin Mehta|25th Oct 2012
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Priyanka Shetty is the founder of the music journalism initiative ‘What’s the Scene?’, whose Twitter profile reads- Writer, Theatre artiste, Music lover, Book lover, huge fan of Sebastian Vettel! We had her at our office recently and during the interview, I came to know about almost all of these except her affinity towards F1 (had I known this beforehand, I could have thrown in a few more questions related to that, since F1 is rather close to my heart!) At first glance, ‘What’s The Scene?’ is only a Facebook Page but a closer look unearths its real worth and potential.

Priyanka Shetty
"Priyanka

What’s The Scene is an initiative aimed at promoting the live music scene in India through music journalism, which covers live gigs all over the country, across genres and probably is the only to do it on the scale it does. 120 journalists, photographers and writers across 8 cities come together to provide an exhaustive coverage of the Indian live music scene. “The growth of the independent music scene in India is on an upward swing and there is a need for a bigger platform to help bands and artistes reach out to more people,” opines Priyanka.

In 2010, overwhelmed by the sheer number of bands in India and the amazing quality of their music, Priyanka started ‘What’s The Scene?’ along with her friend Sidharth Mohan, as a 4-page newsletter that went out to a bunch of 50 music-lovers. Slowly, it grew increasingly popular and today, they have a thriving Facebook page that has a strong say in the live music industry coupled with a huge follower base. “We get invited to cover gigs and festivals from all over India - organizers and venues are very appreciative of the quality of our work. We’ve had some amazing partnerships this year, such as National Law School’s Strawberry Fields 2012, BITS Goa’s Sea Rock and Waves 2012, and of course, The Mad Festival 2012 in Ooty which was definitely the highlight - we were brought on board as ‘Coverage Partners’ and we provided some massive pre and post event coverage and promotions,” informs Priyanka.

What's the Scene
"What's

About to take the plunge into pursuing her passion fulltime, Priyanka certainly has the spark and drive that’s required to sail through. Talking about the challenges, Priyanka says, “It does get difficult to manage such a large team, especially when we are so geographically apart but we do have individuals managing each city who ensure everything runs like clockwork! I cannot stress enough on how fortunate we are to have found such a driven bunch of people. I can safely say that just being a WTSer means that you are made of something special, because the decision to be a part of this team stems from a personal choice to be able to play a role in the realization of a dream that could literally transform the Indian Live Music scene.”

‘What’s The Scene?’ has seen bands grow along with them and talking of such bands, Priyanka says, “It’s great to see when your coverage helps a band on their already arduous road!” A lot of bands in India find it extremely difficult to survive over a period of time. We interviewed Agam recently, a Carnatic progressive rock band from Bangalore, and they only reinforced this belief.

In early 2010, Priyanka started out with doing almost everything on her own, but now has a wonderful and passionate team of 120 people who tirelessly work towards making their vision of building a cohesive, independent and active industry for live music in India a reality. “It wasn’t this easy when we started off but surprisingly, these days the requests for coverage and for being a part of the team come in on their own and this only goes on to show the need for such an initiative!” exclaims Priyanka. When quizzed about who all get to be a part of this growing organization, she says “We have a very strict screening process before we bring anyone on board,” Another key aspect to note is their no-nonsense approach towards music journalism. “We won’t write good things about a band or venue just because we want them to like us or say good things about us; we write honest reviews about what we really think of a band’s music or the sound at a venue. We don’t relax our ideals even if we’re partnering with an event. It’s true, unbiased music journalism,” she adds.

With a very loyal community and a vibrant scene, Priyanka has her eyes firmly planted on scaling up operations and making WTS instrumental in enabling live musicians reach out to the masses and even goes on to say, “The day we are able to bring live music to the masses, will be the day I will consider this initiative truly successful.”

‘What’s The Scene?’ is all geared up to go a long way and with the unconditional help and support of her ever-growing team, Priyanka will strive to make all this a reality. We’re on the same note with her and wish her all the best!

Follow their soul on Facebook- What’s The Scene? and on Twitter @wtsindia

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