“Digital access has pushed the artists to every corner of the world, which in turn helps the live industry” – Naveen Deshpande, CEO, Mixtape

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Naveen Deshpande, founder of Mixtape, has been in the music circuit for a while now. From fronting death metal outfit, Black Hole Theory, his brief stint as a radio jockey to curating ground-breaking acts with the prime names in the industry, Naveen Deshpande is deeply-involved with every sphere of musical world. In an exclusive interview with ACTFAQs, Naveen Deshpande, talks about his vision for Mixtape, musical content monetization, discovering potential talents and more. Excerpts

What is the ideology behind Mixtape?

When I set up Mixtape in 2010, the main idea was to set up an artist management company, which understood the need of artists, their aspirations and to help them convert their passion into profession. But over the years we have also branched out into producing large scale events, creating tours for many Indian, international acts and have booked a wide range of artists for numerous university festivals, clubs and off course corporate clients.

What strategy does Mixtape apply to push a fledgling artiste to the top league?

Before we sign any artist we try and analyze what the artist really wants to do. We then chalk out an internal plan to see what could be the market for the artist, where a new market could be created, what sort of PR plan could work for them, what the apt pricing would be and what the production for the artist would be. So we try this model out for 1 year after which we review it again to introduce a newer model, which includes introducing merchandising, international and Indian touring, collaborations and a new set of production. This process could take us up to two years hence we always look at artists who have a long-term vision and are dedicated to their music.

Other than the standard marketing gimmick, what out-of-box strategies did Mixtape apply to get their artists noticed? And what has the outcome been like?

We have always worked on a production-heavy content for the artists and it has worked in our favour many times. We try and give an immersive experience to the audience at each show, whether it’s the lighting, visuals, stage props, or the way the artist will appear. It’s definitely made people come back to their shows again and again even if we repeat cities. One of the bands we manage, Scribe, has a song called ’Judge Bread’. So we created an entire courtroom drama on stage at Bacardi NH7 Weekender. The other one would be where we did projection mapping show for DonnBhat + Passenger Revelator on 300 tube lights at a club gig in Mumbai and Pune.

With other genres of music taking centre stage, do you think the metal scene is struggling? How challenging is it to sustain metal bands in India?

I don’t think other genres are really taking centre stage. Every genre has their own following. Metal has its own, strong community of fans as well and they all have tremendous respect for each other within the community. Of course, every genre has a set of challenges that one needs to overcome.

Many artists are languishing in relative obscuritytoday, due to lack of proper platforms. What is Mixtape doing to discover such potential talents?

Our touring division, Mixtape Touring gives a chance to a lot of unsigned bands to get on a nationwide tour. We put together a 4-6 city tour, which is across clubs, music festivals, and college festivals. The main idea is to give them a platform and guide them in the best possible way. We have a full fledged PR plan around the tour, we shoot most of the gigs on the tour thus generating a lot of video content, which they could use for potential future bookings and of course at the end of the tour we send feedback collected from within the team as well as fans at the shows to the artists.

Increased digital access has led to a noticeable slump in live concert attendance, how has this trend affected the music scene? And where should artistes focus next to monetize their content?

I don’t agree with that. In fact digital access has pushed the artists to every corner of the world, which in turn helps the live industry pretty well. There is completely different sort of energy watching a live act as compared to listening them on a CD or iPod. From our last year’s data it shows there were about 35 music festivals in India in just one season which shows that the live scene is in good shape.

I think merchandising is a great source of revenue for all artists. There are tons of things which could be created and could be easily sourced in India. Video content is definitely the other thing to be kept in mind. YouTube has already become ’the’ thing for a lot of artists. It’s a matter of putting polished and consistent content to maximize your monetization.

Any new artiste/bands Mixtape will be adding to their rooster soon?

We have just signed Frame/Frame and are in talks with few more artists.

Any advice you would like to give upcoming talents looking to turn their band into a brand?

Its not as easy as just adding an ’r ’ into the word band. It takes a lot of investment in terms of time, money, experimenting and it needs a lot of patience. So unless you are mentally ready to take on the challenge, I would suggest that don’t try to make it a profession.

With Mixtape celebrating five years of successful run, what next feat has it set out to accomplish?

We are looking at developing our own IPs for the next few years. We recently also launched Ground Kontrolle – A lighting design/AV collective focusing on training and developing lighting and AV engineers for various artists , festivals, theatre and other live aspects in the industry. We are also looking at developing brand tie-ups for our artists and events for the next few years.