Love.Live.Music.

We caught up with Priyanka Shetty earlier last month, to talk to her about What’s The Scene India, a popular online portal for live music, that she founded. Here’s more from our chat.

STW: How did ‘What’s The Scene?’ come into being? Why did you feel there was a need for such a platform?

Priyanka: It all started with a conversation. Back in 2010, my friend Sidharth Mohan and I were talking about the sheer number of talented bands and artistes in India who have been around for ages but get only about 4 lines of print fame in magazines and newspapers. There were websites that would write about some bands but would only limit themselves to certain genres and cover a limited number of gigs and concerts. It was evident that there was a need for a unifying platform that would inform people about bands and artistes in the country across genres, and cover gigs and concerts extensively.

 

I remember drawing up a map of all our ideas and approaching musicians, asking them what they thought of it and they’d say, “If you implement this, there’s nothing like it! But we’ve been promised a lot by a lot of people who wanted to start similar initiatives and do great things for us, but we never hear about them or of their ‘idea’ beyond the first conversation.” We promised ourselves that no matter what, even if we can’t see results immediately, we’ll just keep at it. The next few months went in making a hundred phone calls to musicians, meeting people, interviewing bands, reviewing concerts and forming a small team of 9 that sent newsletters every Friday to a bunch of 50 music lovers. It’s been 2 years and we’re a team of 120 now, and there’s not been a minute’s rest. Every day, there’s a new concert to cover, there’s a new band to discover and there’s a new story to report, we like it that way!

STW: You cover several concerts in Bangalore and across the country – how did you get the message about WTS out there to all these folks and grow your network?

Priyanka: It grew on its own! In fact, we were planning to limit our operations only to Bangalore for about a year. But as soon as people from different cities saw the kind of coverage we were providing in Bangalore, they started sending in requests to represent us in their respective cities. So it grew, exponentially, and before we knew it we were writing about bands and artistes in 4 different cities in the same year.  I still remember the update we posted on our wall when that happened – “What’s The Scene, Bangalore is now What’s The Scene, India!” We have teams in about 8 cities now, it’s been incredible.

STW: We’d love to know more about some of the recent events you covered, do tell!

Priyanka: We’ve partnered with BITS’ Sea Rock and Waves 2012, and have provided an extensive coverage of their regional eliminations for Sea Rock in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune and are now gearing up for Waves 2012 in Goa. Apart from that, we have covered The Great Indian Octoberfest, Slayer, Santana, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Aman and Ayan Ali Khan in Bangalore, The NH7 Weekender in Delhi, G.O.D Festival in Pune, TNT Y Fireball 4 in Guwahati, ‘Connecting the Dots’ Workshop with Jordan Rudess and Prasanna at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in Chennai, Thunderstruck in Kolkata, to name a few, in addition to the regular gig coverage we provide at various pubs across cities. We’ve got another partnership with NLS’ Strawberry Fields and a host of other gigs and concerts lined up.

STW: Do you cover new bands that are just ‘coming up’ on the scene?

Priyanka: Always! We ensure that we cover all bands, no matter how big or small. In fact the newer bands are the ones who are really in need of exposure. We understand that, and try to ensure that we have a balanced coverage plan and never go overboard in covering just the popular musicians.

STW: You must have a great team, tell us about them!

Priyanka: Oh, they are simply spectacular! We’ve got a bunch of extremely driven and passionate people who are all fired up around the cause. I would have loved to acknowledge each one of them, but a special mention must go out to Jeffy John who has been the backbone of this initiative from the day he joined us. We’re all extremely fond of him; he has unconditionally loved this initiative, worked really hard towards it over a sustained period of time and is by all means, the ideal WTSan!

STW: What’s the road ahead for WTS?

Priyanka: We’re preparing ourselves to take things a few notches higher by providing a lot more to our readers and increasing our reach across the country, so that more people have access to all this information and benefit from this initiative. We’ve got some interesting tie-ups and ideas that will finally see the light! 2013 is going to be a great year for us!

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About Shruti Bharath

Social entrepreneur and developmental writer, passionate about creating workable solutions in the areas of improving employability of youth and women through skill enhancement/training and generation of productive and sustainable employment opportunities.

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