Sight and sound events make a physical come back
After being bottled inside largely closeted premises due to the pandemic, the music industry’s frustrations boiled over with the culmination of this year’s three-day All About Music conference, held in September 2022, packed with largely known personnel from the media and entertainment industry. Promoted by Tarsame Mittal, rumours abounded during the conference about Universal Music India (UMI) taking over Mittal’s TM Ventures for an absurd consideration. Clarity was subsequently provided in the media, which stated that UMI had “acquired a majority stake” in TM Ventures, which was founded in 2020, and has since built a huge roster of artistes across music, comedy, TV, and film.
Since its inception in 2017, All About Music has filled a void in India’s calendar of music industry conferences and B2B networking events by engaging attendees through discussions/debates across innovations and advances in the business of music. Acting as the gateway for the Indian market to extend itself into the global community, besides the obvious sponsor-heavy sessions, there were some outstanding independent ones encompassing the ‘Future Of IPs’, with amazing inputs from two veterans of the events industry who started their respective careers working for the same group, Owen Roncon (chief of business – Live Events, BookMyShow) and VG Jairam (founder, Hyperlink Brand Solutions), both of whom were now present as members of a larger panel discussion. Then there were insights into publishing from Rakesh Nigam, CEO, The Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS), who provided a keynote on the growing role of the Copyright Society in India, supported by a break out session by Rajat Chandra (Manager, Sync & Licensing, Sony Music Publishing India), who addressed a packed audience about the nuances of both international and Indian publishing, constantly correcting the enthusiastic attendees that the “performing” in IPRS had nothing to do with live events! Another fascinating session was the brand presentation on Control Alt Delete by founders Nikhil Udupa and Himanshu Vaswani, where they ran through the genesis of their company, the support received from those attending their live events which promoted a model of paying as you deem fit (someone paid an amount as low as Rs.3/-), and the scaling up of operations across the years.
There were also interesting anecdotes shared by Vikram Mehra (Managing Director, Saregama India) in his keynote who, while speaking as the Chairman of the Indian Music Industry (IMI), narrated his absolute pessimism when Tarsame Mittal first proposed the idea of All About Music. In all humility, Mehra acknowledged how wrong he was in his reading, with the conference now a veritable brand in the media and entertainment sector.
Then there was the Connect Corner initiative, as part of All About Music, which provided a one-on-one interaction for attendees wanting to connect with verticals of the music industry, and was superbly and effectively organised by Hinal Rajaawat and her team and, of course, followed by late evening artist showcases. There was a healthy number of international attendees too, and it was welcoming to interact with the likes of UK-based Reynold D’Silva (founder, Silva Screen Music Group), who was kind enough to provide a CD containing the soundtrack of ‘The Beatles and India’ to this writer, featuring renditions of the fab four’s songs by the likes of Karsh Kale, Soulmate, Anoushka Shankar, and Warren Mendonsa, among others; also meeting with Jay Visvadeva (founder, Sama Arts Network), who promotes Indian artistes to the diaspora in UK; and renewing contact with talented guitarist-composer Druv Kent (who is Singapore-based, but was intriguingly present as part of the UK delegation).
All About Music also provided an opportunity of interacting with several indie artistes. One of them was Jaimin Rajani, a Gujarati born in Mumbai, but based out of Kolkata now. His hour-long, all-English debut album, ‘Cutting Loose’, provides focus on Rajani’s obvious folk-rock influences, supported by his personal experiences contained within the lyrics. While Rajani’s guitar playing is the primary instrument, backing instrumentation is provided by a host of mostly veteran musicians, such as Rahul Ram (of Indian Ocean), Ralph Pais (of Savages), Abhay Sharma (of The Revisit Project), and Rohan Ganguli (of Supersonics), to name a few. One of the best selections on the album is “Wore My Heart On My Sleeve” but that, and a lot more of Rajani’s amazing talent, can be heard here: cuttingloose.jaimin.in.
Then there was another talent named Rooppreet Dhamija who, besides being a lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property Rights, is a 26-year-old singer-songwriter trained in Hindustani Classical to help achieve basics in writing, composing, and singing tuned to perfection (or, at least, close to it), as her own creation has since culminated in the debuting of her song, “Saathi Aaja Na”, which can be heard here:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ydMAUb06pI. A marvellous track which is backed by a lovely melody, effective Indian instrumentation, and a well-trained voice.
While there was little doubt about the underlying thread behind All About Music 2022 being Atul Churamani (Managing Director, Turnkey Music & Publishing), less than a week following its conclusion, FICCI FRAMES organized the two-day Fast Track 2022 conference.
Having several plenary and parallel sessions held along with workshops and master-classes on issues/topics covering the entire gamut of media & entertainment, including Films, Broadcast (TV & Radio), Digital Entertainment, Animation, Gaming, and Visual Effects, among other topics, most of them were related to – along with the presence of representatives from – Bollywood, which was almost all pervading. However, besides the obvious networking opportunities, thanks to the organisers, they proactively provided a dashboard wherein prior appointments could be booked, and a dedicated room kept for the scheduled B2B meetings.
Meanwhile, one of the best sessions of the conference focused on the subject of “Copyright in the Digital Age”, which discussed how copyright protection is the core of any creative economy, with technology making it easier than ever to disseminate creative works but, paradoxically, also presenting challenges of easy infringement and unauthorised reproduction. On how policymakers can ensure that there is an enabling ecosystem in India for copyright holders, while also balancing consumer welfare, was addressed in the keynote address by Hon’ble Ms. Justice Prathiba M. Singh, sitting Judge, Delhi High Court. It was supported by a panel discussion that followed, which included Karan Thapar, Deputy Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Government of India; Dipti Kotak, Chief Legal Officer, Media Business, Jio Studios; Uday Singh, Managing Director, Motion Pictures Association (MPA) of India; and Gowree Gokhale, Partner, Nishith Desai Associates. Aptly moderated by Kaushik Moitra, Partner, Bharucha & Partners, one of the relevant subjects discussed was whether songs of films now available in public domain still remained protected. This was well addressed by Advocate Gokhale who said that existing laws ensured that the authors’ rights were protected upto 60 years after their demise.
While it was indeed a welcome opportunity to finally interact, in person, with people by hosting these conferences, especially following the pandemic, the presence of attendees in huge numbers was a pleasing sight as the events space recovers from a virtual past…