At some point, not too far ago in Indian cultural history, popular and independent musicians were at the summit. From Suneeta Rao of the 80s to Anuv Jain of today and many more, there have been a lot of independent artists and bands that have found breakout popularity with their original music. But despite the surge during the early aughts, Indian audiences continue to listen to popular, mainstream music, which is often formulaic and even created with the intention of social media virality, perhaps by virtue of their huge marketing budgets. But where do you turn to when you are an independent artist? Especially if you are an independent artist whose sound/genre is relatively niche. This is where Neon Culture and Deccan Alternative Music Conference can help you out.
The Deccan Alternative Music Festival is a travelling conference and showcase festival whose inaugural edition is being organised in Bangalore in February 2024. The conference takes a business-to-community format where industry leaders from leading organisations host relevant sessions that can help artists to upskill, network, find collaborators and discover more of what they can do with their music. By bringing in expert speakers and curating a show, DAMC is an industry-specific event that provides experiences of value for attendees and speakers alike.
The topics covered by the speakers include those like ‘How The Money Flows’ by Visruthi Bindal, the cofounder of the event’s founding organisation Neon Culture (a music business consultancy), and an experienced music business professional. According to the event’s instagram page, “This session will break down the business of songs and ways songwriters can monetise their songs in 2024. We will also deal with all the jargon including PRO, royalties, mechanicals, publishing, licensing, music publishing deals and much more.”
Some of the other topics include one on vocal training by Singer-Songwriter Mahesh Raghunandan, another on how the Indian Performing Rights Society works and the rights administration & licensing by the head of Corporate Communications and Member Relations at IPRS Rumpa Banerjee. There are also sessions on Indie Music & Anxiety by licensed Psychological Counsellor and Indie Musician Aanchal Bordoloi as well as Artist Management 101 led by Ojas Shetty, a Bangalore-based urban practitioner, cultural producer, and artist manager of repute.
The core tenant of DAMC is to be inclusive and accessible, especially by ensuring a 75-minute block for Kannada programming on each conference day to foster the music scene, especially in the regional language of the hosting city. The tickets for the events are also on a sliding scale - which includes regular tickets, as well as those dedicated to artists and another for students. By hosting the event at the sustainable venue Bangalore Creative Circus, DAMC is partnering with a venture that’s actively working towards promoting a more circular economy. DAMC has actively been collaborating with like-minded ventures like the new-age underwear brand Tailor and Circus to add sustainable wristbands to the mix. By incorporating these eco-friendly practices, DAMC aims to set an example for responsible event management.
The event is truly experiential in the regard that beyond the main conference curation, there are activities, installations, and even a dedicated quiet room that add more value. While the activities range from the second major leg of the event - The Showcase to others such as sharing circles, music trivia quizzes and cyphers. The installations range from interactive digital music instrument demos for those with disabilities to an Indian Gig Poster Archive exhibit.
The aforementioned showcase at DAMC, presented in collaboration with HEARTLAND Experiences, Indiranagar Social, and The Raft, features a diverse lineup of eight carefully curated artists discovered through an open call for applications in December 2023. Among the selected talents is the band Lakshya, a collective that navigates various music formats, rooted in a captivating Carnatic foundation. Formed out of mutual love and friendship, they infuse Classical Carnatic with contemporary elements, creating a harmonious blend of genres through fun, experimentation, and artistic synergy.
Gracing the stage is singer-songwriter and Hindustani classical vocalist Sahana Naresh, born and raised in Chennai. Her musical journey, influenced by a mix of Carnatic, 70's rock, and versatile artists, is reflected in her indie and Indian Classical Fusion explorations. Sahana, who left a corporate job at Microsoft to pursue music, shares her personal experiences through soulful compositions like "Milky Hands" and her debut EP "Shore Out Of Reach," inspired by her love for the sea and the birth of her daughter Tara.
Adding to the lineup is the eclectic work of multi-instrumentalist Pop artist Jeevan Antony, known for his nostalgic and intimate approach to songwriting. Hailing from Bengaluru, Kali is a Kannada rap act that is being featured which seamlessly intertwines Kannada rhythms with socially charged narratives through their unique brand of hip-hop, transcending musical boundaries and making a cultural impact in the heart of the city.
The showcase also features singer-songwriter L’nee Golay, who presents a soulful blend of melodies and relatable lyrics inspired by artists like Phoebe Bridgers, or Eloise and Holly Humberstone. Clan Bokka Phod, a hip-hop collective from Neelasandra, Bengaluru, shares stories of struggles and hope rooted in their identities through their music. The Nepali Folk Rock Band Gauley Bhai brings a genre-fluid and dynamic approach, rooted in personal and cultural experiences, aiming to create authentic and boundary-pushing music.
Finally, Alva Kuuto, an eclectic Tulu folk band, led by Praveen Alva, blends the ancient Tulu language, vivid narrations of stories, memories, and emotions with a contemporary sound that draws inspiration from rock, hip-hop, and folk genres with vocal-heavy tracks. The showcase promises an inspired and varied expression of music from the curated list of diverse and talented artists. While the first day of the showcase will be held in the evening at Indiranagar Social, the second day will be hosted at The Raft.
But before they even delve into their final performance at these well-known venues, the selected artists will be part of an extensive series of workshops from 27th January to 8th February to meet with and pitch to industry experts, and make the most of the opportunities that DAMC can provide. These acts will be going into their showcase performance with their new learnings in tow. Some of the other partners for DAMC include SkillBox, IPRS, PRS, Bohemian Entertainment, and GEL Studios.
DAMC invites music enthusiasts, professionals, and curious minds to join in for two days of learning and fun. By fostering collaboration and adopting a hyper-local approach, DAMC aims to contribute to the development of the Indian music industry with each edition. Their focusing on being a travelling event means that they hope to host each one in a new city. This is done with the intent to create a cultural shift where the indie music industry in each city becomes a community working towards a common goal and to encourage ecosystems for the industry beyond the popular cities such as Mumbai or Delhi. As DAMC approaches, it is shaping up to be an event that promises to be not just a conference but a rather a showcase of best that Indie musicians of today have to offer, and an over all immersive experience for all attendees.
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