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Rendezvous with Jashoda Madhavji, a celebrity publicist!

This time around, we wanted to bring to you an interesting Interview with a celebrity publicist and event organizer Jashoda Madhavji, who talks about how it is to be on the other side handling artists, managing large scale events and about her journey and future projects.

 Tell us about your journey in the music industry

PR was an accidental venture for me, I never planned it. In fact I have a degree in economics, politics and literature and a separate one in theatre from Trinity College of Dramatics. It has been over 14 years now as I started working real young, when I was 18 years old or so. Whilst I was studying in high school I was simultaneously spending my free time interning with my grandfather Ranjit Laxmidas Madhavji who is a world icon in portrait photography at his studio called Hamilton Studios. This is where I learnt the essentials of being a successful entrepreneur and learnt the ropes of running your own enterprise for close to 3 years. It feels fantastic to be the CEO of my own life and understand the true meaning of accountability, efficiency and excellence. I quite enjoy being the behind the scenes go-to person who’s available 24×7 for any kind of counsel and somewhere PR allows me to do that. I love building a brand out of nothing and somewhere I love to challenge myself to think beyond the ordinary. Someone once told me I would never be a successful entrepreneur and I took it upon myself to change their perception. God has been kind! Music was always something I was attracted to as a child and it was my calling so to speak. Justin Bieber, Bryan Adams, Akon, Pitbull, LMFAO, Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, David Guetta, Avicii, Hardwell, Afrojack, Diplo, Fatboy Slim, Martin Garrix, Swedish House Mafia, Sunburn, Supersonic, Enchanted Valley Carnival, Tomorrowland, Windsong Music Festival, Future Music Festival, Niladri Kumar, Amaan & Ayaan Ali Bangash, AR Rahman Anoushka Shankar, DJ Bravo, Nikhil Chinapa, Mad Decent Block Party, Sensation India, Ultra Music are some of the top of the line clientele.

Tell us about your fondest and most difficult experience in the live scene so far.

I think my fondest memory would be the Akon India Tour. Contrary to his public image, Akon is a very unassuming non controversial kind of a person. The one thing I truly loved about Akon was the fact that he respected the press and the fans. He had no fear diving into a crowd of 30k plus people and in fact in one the cities the barricading fell apart and fans stormed into the backstage area and he was so not bewildered about it all. But since I was on the only girl on the entourage he made sure he lent his protection to me and got me into the car safely. Even at our after parties, Akon was very comfortable being surrounded by his fans and gave every single person a photo opportunity. The one moment I’m really proud of is that no one was allowed into his room and he asked his security to guide me to his room to meet with his wife since I had got her a souvenir.

The most challenging experience would maybe be the Justin Bieber Purpose Tour since the artist had a global mandate of no press and sustaining the tour in the news for over 3 months was a task but we were successful because of third party associations and endorsements. Selective media was allowed in the front pit area creating a sense of discomfort with the rest of the press fraternity and a major backlash in post event coverage. A mandate of no press at public places the artist was visiting had to be maintained at all times so diverting press became another issue two days prior to the concert. The initial announcement was also jeopardized because of the news was leaked in advance hence a whole new strategy had to be devised when the tour had to be officially announced timing the artist’s post on social media with the media break.

What are the challenges you face as a celebrity PR?

Well celebrities come with their own baggage but it’s an art to be a celebrity agent. On the flipside, a lot of publicists and managers in India feel they are the celebrity themselves which sometimes creates a negative brand value for the celebrity because of the high handedness. In India, celebrities are very comfortable treating their publicists and managers as disposable commodities which is a rare sight to see with their counterparts in the West. Global celebrities don’t budge an inch without their publicists and managers and everything is so methodical and professionally managed. Personally it’s a very exhilarating experience working with global celebrities because they understand the importance of brand building. Whether we’re crafting an actor’s image, babysitting a hard-partying starlet, fielding phone calls from press, or helming a multi-million dollar movie campaign, we are an integral part of the showbiz machine and that alone is enough for a 24×7 job. As long as you explained the who, what, why and where equation, most global celebrities would always make time to accommodate the press time unlike in India where press is comfortable waiting for 2-3 hours for top celebrities to attend an event. However a lot of top grossing artists have no media as clauses in their riders which pose as a hindrance to great pre event press since media editors feel the PR isn’t pushy enough which the case isn’t. A lot of times PR faces a backlash because of last minute alterations by the tour manager in press guidelines on ground and sadly press photographers and videographers don’t understand NDA’s and law suits.

If there is something you would like to change in the music industry, what would it be and why?

The sense of unspoken insecurity that prevails. Music is really an art that unites cultures and countries and contrary to popular belief music today is creating a sense of rivalry and competition. Musicians in India aren’t as respected as their counterparts in the West and that mindset needs to change because we lack the respect for the art. If a film doesn’t do well at the box office, it’s the music that keeps the film relevant and that’s a fact that most people tend to overlook. Most of the media who covers music as a beat is myopic and there is not enough editorial space dedicated to music as a subject. Regional music needs that extra impetus, classical music needs the respect on home turf just like it gets globally, talent managers need to treat musicians as seriously as actors, wedding planners should consider indie bands for private performances, records labels need to discover and promote new talent, established singers need to collaborate more often with newcomers, copyright law needs to be applied more for online infringements, consumers need to start paying for music, higher revenue streams from streaming. All these changes are imperative for the future of music and so that is viewed as a valuable asset of the entertainment profession.

What do you attribute your success to?

A few things my grandfather and mother taught me. I was raised by a single parent and she gave my sister and me the best values. Never give up on your dreams and the word impossible exists in the dictionary of quitters. I’m a huge believer in ‘what you ask for the universe gifts’ and if you can dream it you can achieve it because there is a magician inside each one of us. I always do a lot of charity along the way as there were times when I needed the help and someone assisted me in good faith so I never forgot payback. I like to inspire and help others in their path to success even if it means letting go of my hefty consultation fees. I call it good karma and empowering others to be self starters because the universe has a beautiful way of rewarding kindness. I have always considered challenges to be opportunities in disguise. I never push the problem under the carpet, I embrace it because you always need to set a new benchmark and challenge yourself. Always be grateful, positive and humble as nothing compares to good hearted human being. Period.

Tell us about your upcoming projects that we can look forward to

Ed Sheeran, Ultra Music Festival, Sunburn 11 , Anoushka Shankar and maybe a multi-city tour headlined by Maroon5, Bryan Adams and Chris Brown

This interview was featured in our July 2017 issue:

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