If I told you that India is one of the best places to perform for a rock band or that India is one of the places where just about every band wants to perform in, you wouldn’t have believed me. You’d probably be amused and thought that I’m losing my mind. Fast forward to 2017 and you may still not believe me, but you wouldn’t be amused. But you wouldn’t believe me only because you probably don’t know the music scene very well.
India is home to over 1.3 billion people. Even though most follow only Bollywood and other commercial music, there are a lot of people who are into Rock and metal music. When I say ‘a lot’, I don’t mean the majority. In fact, a very small minority listen to rock and metal music. And the numbers are much smaller as far as not-so-famous bands are concerned. But then again, we are 1.3 billion people. That’s a huge number. And we’re a huge nation. And regardless of how the economy is doing, India is a massive market for every business in the world. Rock / Metal music are no different. Even if less than a million people listen and follow a certain kind of people, that’s a big number. For, there are tens of nations whose population is less than one million! All of these contribute to creating a lot of interest for performers to visit India, at least once.
How did it all start, though? Sure, we had Michael Jackson visit India in 1996-97. It was a huge thing back then. We also had several notable singers and other performers visit India during, before and after that period. But where exactly did things change? When did India become a hub of sorts for bands from overseas? It’s all up for discussion, but in my opinion, it was when Iron Maiden made their made visit to India in 2007. That was a major boost. India had never seen a metal band with that kinda reputation in the world before. Iron Maiden headlined ‘Rock in India’. The concert was a huge success and there was no looking back ever since. Iron Maiden returned twice in consecutive years since then performing sold out shows in Mumbai and Bangalore. Iron Maiden’s maiden visit to India opened the floodgates for a horde of metal and rock bands performing in India.
India has been one of the most ‘must-visit’ places for artists across the world. A gig or a tour in India has become somewhat of a necessity for most. Since Iron Maiden in 2007, we’ve had the greatest and the most obscurest bands visit India. From Megadeth to Machine Head, Guns n Roses, Metallica, etc and Meshuggah, Enslaved, etc. And it’s not slowing down… Not anytime soon!
So what caused this sudden change? What exactly makes India such an exciting and such an important destination? There are various reasons for that. It could all play a role in a certain band wanting to come to India and it may also be subjective.
India is the second most populated country in the world. Even a small minority in a nation of 1.3 billion people is a huge number. So it becomes a very important market regardless of your product or services. It’s a place of strategic importance. Because if you or your product does well in India, the benefits could be endless. So as musicians, it could very well mean more CD sales or digital downloads, bigger turnouts at your gigs, etc.
Despite the inflow of international bands performing in India, the number of bands performing in India is still pretty low compared to Europe or North America. So the audience isn’t spoilt for choices all the time. So when the opportunity to witness an international band presents itself, they make the most of it. As a performer, that’s what you want to see. An enthusiastic audience who enjoy the music, sing along or dance or groove or headbang, mosh etc is all that you want as a performer when performing live! And more often than not, this is what you see in India.
What’s important to be noted is the fact that it’s not only the big, highly reputed artists who have India on their roadmap, but also the up and coming bands. In fact, India is one of the most important markets, if not the most important markets for newer bands. As Elias of the now defunct Swedish band, Deathember points out, “The biggest difference I experienced was that the Indian crowds seemed way more open minded about our music, and the crowd seemed more diverse (Than back home in Sweden). As pointed out before, Indian audience, in general, tend to be more appreciative of the music. Sweden is home to a lot of legendary bands. And the people there are spoilt for choices. That does not work very well for upcoming bands. They often end up playing for empty halls/clubs or mute crowds. So India provides them with an escape they would not forget easily.
Sometimes, it’s more than just these common expectations that make bands visit India. It could be something as deep as being able to be a part of a growing community. Johan Lund of Mindshift (Sweden) says, “India is really important for Mindshift because, first of all, we have gotten treated really well by all the organisers as well as the fans in India. And secondly we see a growing metal community there and to be a part of it from the beginning is a real honour. And the food is great! Haha”. He is right. How could we forget about the food? If one has no other reason to visit this rather unique nation, then the food here should do the trick!
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. And India is home to over a billion people. And it’s only logical to assume everybody wants to be a part of its growth.
Read the article in our May 2017 issue: http://bit.ly/2pIswqQ