Expression, celebration, opportunity - third edition of CULTURAS 360° music festival kicks off this weekend

Sonya Mazumdar, CEO of EarthSync, shares insights on this unique online music festival, and opportunities for aspiring musicians and entrepreneurs.
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Until the pandemic uncertainties recede, many music festivals will carry on with virtual showcases. A collective of world music festival organisers has again rallied together to host the third edition of Culturas 360°, an annual global online music project.

The virtual showcase, free to view for all attendees, will be streamed live on March 26-27 this weekend. See our write-ups on the first and second editions of CULTURAS 360° in 2021.

The Festival Collective now consists of festival organisers from Canada, the US, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and India.

Edition 2022

“Since the Festival Collective is spread across many countries, the artistes in the festival lineup are able to reach a much larger audience,” explains Sonya Mazumdar, CEO and Director of Chennai-based EarthSync, in a chat with YourStory.

In March 2021, nine international music festivals co-founded CULTURAS 360°, with 18 bands from around the world. See my photo-essays on earlier editions of IndiEarth XChange in Chennai, and the pandemic lockdown activities of the Indian Music Experience museum in Bangalore.

“Once again, CULTURAS 360° third edition is bringing our global community together through music. We will be showcasing the works of talented artists from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, and celebrating the richness of the diversity of cultures,” adds Alfredo Caxaj, Co-Artistic Director, SUNFEST, London, Ontario in Canada.

The performing artistes this weekend include Sonido Pesao (Canada), Jerry N The Resistance (Mauritius), Aila (Galicia, Spain), Como Asesinar A Felipe (Chile), Kune (Canada), Paulina Y El Buscapie (Mexico), Polky (Poland/Canada), Raia: Planeta Campanica (Portugal), Rehmat-e-Nusrat (India), Remidas (South Korea), Roberto Chitsondzo (Mozambique), and Sangre Maiz (Mexico).

Challenges

“Indian classical music and Bollywood have a very distinct cultural signature that is unique to India. With long, rich histories, abundant artistes, legends, and repertoire, both could get higher international exposure over time. This is also spurred by the interest of the growing Indian diaspora,” Sonya observes.

India’s folk music is equally rich and diverse. “There is definitely an interested market for such music overseas. The development of infrastructure and support for folk artistes, however, has not been anywhere near on a scale that is required to reach wider domestic or international markets,” Sonya laments.

Though there are many individuals and organisations doing amazing work in this space, much more needs be done to preserve and promote Indian folk music.

“Indie music has a lot of potential, but most independent artists don’t have a support infrastructure to sustain the early career period of gaining stage experience to hone their craft and develop their music careers consistently and effectively,” Sonya explains.

“Sadly, there have been far too many really good indie artists who have had to set aside the music,” she cautions.

A world of music

Sonya founded IndiEarth XChange to specifically support and develop Indian independent artists for international markets.

This includes knowledge sharing and pooling together of skills to grow a community of artist managers for exploring international markets. Local artists can also learn from international festival organisers on professional performance expectations.

“We created a multi-country space where artists and professionals can directly engage, where independent musicians and film makers can spawn collaborative projects and develop networks,” Sonya affirms.

EarthSync is thus a music production house, documentary film producer, and a global, cross-cultural artistic collaborator. Its IndiEarth XChange initiative is India’s premier trade event for independent music and film communities.

Digital media

Sonya advises Indian musicians to do much more to harness the power of digital media, from self-learning to discovery.

“Promotion and positioning oneself for the right audience is the challenge. There is so much content in the digital ocean. Many artists may be famous in their region, but can still be unknown to others elsewhere,” she observes.

CULTURAS 360’s virtual showcase festival is an example of one way to be heard in new territories. “Our Festival Collective comprises of established festivals in different countries, across different continents,” Sonya says.

Each festival has years of work to its name and has built its brand and audience from the ground up. “All the artists presented at the showcase festival connect with audiences across continents, in the countries of the festivals, and their networks,” she adds.

Sonya proudly shares: “Some CULTURAS 360 artistes from the previous two editions have already been booked to perform at on-ground festivals in 2022 and 2023!”

Music and entrepreneurship

The physical and virtual music ecosystems offer a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs and sponsors as well.

EarthSync is presenting three artists: Rehmat-e-Nusrat (India), Jerry N The Resistance (Mauritius), and ReMidas (South Korea). ReMidas is supported by InKo Centre Chennai, a non-profit society supported primarily by TVS Motor Company and Hyundai Motor India.

“Marketing professionals could greatly help shift the perceptions of sponsors to be ‘partners,’ with innovative brand positioning instead of mere footfalls,” Sonya suggests.

“There is a huge shortage of professionals in the marketing and fund-raising for the non-mainstream music sector, particularly in India. I find the sponsor perspective to be still quite conservative,” Sonya observes.

Other opportunities lie in creating digital music platforms, artiste management, tour development, audience engagement, digital rights management, and even emerging technologies like blockchain and NFTs.

Edited by Suman Singh

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