Archive for October, 2017

What is in an Award?

Starting a brand from scratch can be a real daunting process. Even if you have a big company giving you all the infrastructural support and resources, you know you have to think like an entrepreneur and be not just prudent but creative, innovative and impactful. That is what happened when I joined Hungama back in April 2009. I had met with the MD of Hungama Digital Media, Neeraj Roy, proposing a platform for Talent and Independent content because at that time all I knew was that there was talent making content and there was an opportunity to offer them an official release through digital distribution that Hungama could bring in rather than the artists putting it out on social platforms like MySpace, Reverbnation, etc that were prevalent at that time. I was offered to join the company and build it under Hungama and that is how Artist Aloud was born.

 

For the first three years, Artist Aloud evolved into a platform across a website, social media, content and event IPs and artist programming. As a website, we were largely a virtual address. It was not meant to be a destination on its own. But even though we had not visioned it earlier, we had two App stores namely Intel AppUp and Microsoft that saw our potential and promise in what we are doing for the Independent space and offered to fund the development of a stand-alone destination for Artist Aloud in the form of an App. That to us was the first step towards recognition. It was a testimony to the effort and vision we had built this platform with. It was the first indication that the Independent space needs to have a face of its own even if it is available on mainstream platforms.

 

The birth of the App began with approach and agenda. We knew that we wanted the App to be a stand-alone destination but what we wanted the App to do was a whole different story. An App’s success is in its utility and its ability to make things convenient. We always wanted to be a platform that marries talent with technology. Being part of a digital company, Hungama, it was not just obvious but mandatory for Artist Aloud to think this way.

 

So we met with a company called Fractal Ink who came on board to design the App for us. We spent 6 months discussing, ideating and designing UI and UX. There were several iterations of the features. Artist Aloud has always believed that everyone has talent and with people not being shy anymore to put themselves out there, we wanted to be the platform that would give their original expression a face and a reach. And so the App needed to be a common destination for Talent and Fans. We looked at several elements that we encountered in the real world and aimed to offer it in the virtual world. Some of these included:

 

  • Content Acquisition
  • Book an Artist for a gig
  • Collaborate with an Artist
  • Create an Audio Room to have your friends listen to your playlist with you

 

After 6 months of designing, we now needed to see the whole thing come alive. Enter – Hungama Digital Services. Here was a team who had handled Artist Aloud as part of the creative team of Hungama. Hence they were the right team to build the next version of the platform. While designing took 6 months, giving life to those designs took about 18 months. This was not just because there was a lot to get done but also because we wanted it to be a good experience to the users and hence as far as possible bug-free.

 

After all the sweat, grill, heartaches and excitement we finally launched the App in Sept 2016 across iOS, Android, Windows and Responsive Site available on Mobile, Tablet or Desktop. But launching the App was only the first step. In just one year since then, the App has had more than 6000 artists registering on the App, 50,000+ completely organic installs, 8 mins average time spent and more. And to add the cherry on the top, we have won the following Awards in just one year:

 

  • Winner of Best Interaction Design – Mobile Apps @ CII Design Excellence Awards 2016

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  • Bronze @ Creative Abbys 2017 for Best Mobile Application

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  • Silver @ Dragons Of Asia 2017 for Best Mobile Application

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And that is not all, the App is also shortlisted for the India Chapter of MMA Smarties.

 

So what is in an Award? It is motivation, acknowledgment, inspiration, and opportunity for taking a business to the next level and be committed to what you have to offer to consumers and your patrons.

 

Authored by Soumini Sridhara Paul

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Humnasheena & Jilted – Music UnLtd.

Formed in 2014 in Mumbai by Milin [also known as Milind Chitnavis], his band – that goes by the name Music UnLtd. – continues to surprise, launching a 4-track Hindi album called ‘Humnasheena’ simultaneously with a 7-track English album called ‘Jilted’.  In indulging in reggae as it opening track – on both albums – Milin takes a complete tangent from the band’s domain expertise in rock and its variants, be it sung in English or in Hindi.

Singing in multiple languages is, of course, not a bad thing if you are adept at it, as it caters to different audiences. Nevertheless, the content on both albums is listenable, mainly because it is varied,  with all the songs composed and written by Milin [who also plays guitar and sings], with lyrics on the Hindi-language album, ‘Humnasheena’, being shared by Tushar Bhatia, Ibrahim Ashq, and Farooque Rehman. Notable of the dual language songs are the keyboard-based ballad “Kuch Pyaar Se Ab Yaar Chal” [the English equivalent is “Slow And Easy”] which contains melodious flute interludes, and the mid-tempo ”Jana Kahaan Hai” [“What Is My Calling?” in English], which is a likable guitar-based track overlaid by keyboards. The other track that rings in the feel of retro, yet managing to steer away from that bygone era by sounding fresh, is the lovely, mellow “Baahon Mein Baahein” [“Suspicious Stares” in English] with percussion reminiscent of Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings”.

Music UnLtd.’s influences may be manifold, but the one that comes out clear to me is progressive rock. Nevertheless, nearly all the tracks seem to have been nurtured as labors of love, but what is simply compelling on this collection from Music UnLtd. is their ability to captivate the listener with its arrangements. Well done, Milin!

 

– Review by PARAG KAMANI.

Stream & Download ‘Humnasheena & Jilted’ exclusively on Artist Aloud – Talent First App.

 

Independent Content – why bother?

“There is no market for Independent Content.”

“There is no money in the Independent space.”

“It is too niche.”

“Independent content is not popular and hence it is not good.”

“Those were the good times.”

“If you are not in Bollywood then you are not big.”

 

These are some of the things I commonly here about talent doing Independent content. As a promoter of this space it disappoints me to hear such things especially when I see so much talent around. Imagine if every person who wanted to do something new that did not exist was told that he was wasting his time. In my case, it isn’t even something new. It is easier to build something from scratch as against to rebuilding something that was there and withered away. The skepticism towards something like this is always much more than with something that has no precedence.

Until the late 90s, the voices that sang for Bollywood were recognizable and the Indi pop artists were making their own mark. At that time, there were only a few who got a chance to sing for Bollywood while Indi Pop was considered to be cool, Independent and a breath of fresh air. Once Bollywood became the end all, these Indi Pop singers started singing for Bollywood and stopped making their own music. This wasn’t because they couldn’t create anything more but it was more because they couldn’t make it as popular as Bollywood could.

With that began the race to enter Bollywood. Just like Ms. India was considered to be the stepping stone for acting, music reality shows became the stepping stone for singing in Bollywood films. Art has always been connected with fame and hence with the kind of fame and visibility artists got with Bollywood, it was obvious that that would be the only goal.

But I already see things changing and that too really quickly these days. Bollywood is still of course the main stay but artists more and more are realizing that to increase the shelf life of their career they need to be doing different kinds of music and projects and not be dependent only on Bollywood. I have personally met so many artists who have left their hometown and moved to Mumbai with the intention of making it big in Bollywood but the reality is that everyone does not and cannot get a chance. So, what do those artists do? Well, I believe they need to look into themselves and make their careers happen. That to me is sowing the seed for Independent Content.

In lay-man terms, Independent Content for an Artist is like becoming an entrepreneur while striving to make it in Bollywood is like looking for a job. The struggle is more when you are on your own trying to build something but when it happens, you know you have made it on your own.

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Authored by Soumini Sridhara Paul