A big black spot in the music industry – women representation! Recently, Billboard’s list of the 100 most powerful people in the industry comprised of less than 10% women. In India, the ratio has been even worse. It thus becomes more important to celebrate these women every day, and not just a day in the year. The women who besides these odds still contribute quality work to the industry. Priyanka Khimani, Partner, Anand & Anand & Khimani is one such lady. For those who do not know her, she is an entertainment attorney and her clientele over her 6 years of experience includes great legends such as Lata Mangeshkar, Sonu Nigam, and the likes.
What interested me the most was that Khimani was recently invited to speak at the Grammy Week which is a prestigious opportunity for the music industry. She was also the first Indian lady to be at the forefront of representing Indian women. Recently, I met with Priyanka Khimani on her visit to Delhi and spoke to her about the industry and her journey to being the leading music attorney that she is today!
Priyanka Khimani’s Journey On Becoming A Successful Music Attorney
For someone who is nationally recognized as a successful music attorney at this young age, Khimani never intended on working in the music business. She had no starry-eyed dreams of starting a revolution while working in the music business. Interestingly, there was no plan to pursue music law or entertainment law or even intellectual property for Priyanka Khimani. It was all just a series of events which lead from one thing to another. Let’s call it the domino effect!
I got into law wanting to get a steady paycheck at the end of the day. Now, when I listen to didi or Sonu Nigam or Arijit, it feels surreal. It’s like WOW! I actually advice these great artists., Said Priyanka Khimani
Of course, now it has all changed. Today, she stands by the artist community. As Anand & Anand & Khimani, they represent talent and not essentially the business side of it. Khimani acknowledges the new agencies and labels mostly in the independent circuit that have come into play, changing the industry in a positive way. We note this new wave where they want to give back control to the artists, the way it should be. These professionals usually share a unified vision and have many new interesting and fresh ideas to bring to the table. Khimani enjoys working with these talents as it brings a newer challenge. It’s true, Priyanka Khimani is very sensitive towards the artist community and there is a reason for it. Let’s find out!
Priyanka Khimani was a theater enthusiast growing up in school. She was exposed to a lot of Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati theater and started acting at a very young age. She credits her mother, who she describes as a shy and a nervous person, the exact opposite to Khimani who is outgoing and social. Khimani believes that because her mother was unable to be an outgoing personality she hoped her daughter would and it turned out just that way.
Due to this passion and love for theater, Khimani spent a lot of time on sets, backstage, on and off stage. She just slowly merged into that system. She not only understood the entertainment business very well, she also learned how the people in this sector hustled and understood their minds. In addition to this, she understood what it was like to be an artist and that really paid off. There is also the fact that when people know that you are one of them, you look out for them and get their sensitivities more.
You must know that the industry at the end of the day is all about relationships. Since, I had understood the business and its people, it wasn’t that hard for me to fall into entertainment law. I started off with didi (Lata Mangeshkar) and then it just took off from there. I think because I was around the business for such a long time, it shaped the way I moved professionally. – Priyanka Khimani
Priyanka Khimani, On her struggle as a forerunning woman in the music industry
While it was relatively easy to become a part of the industry, being in the industry for women has always been hard.
A few weeks ago there was a small delegation that was doing rounds of meetings with the ministry that is in charge of the copyright act, IPP. They were meeting certain senior officials and members of the parliament for the multiple initiatives that our government has announced. They were doing these rounds in Delhi and in Bombay. These were high-level meetings and lobbying and many other important meetings. Guess how many women were asked to be a part of it? None. It was all an men forum and the idea of having a female representative was just not a thought that crossed their minds.
Women are a large chunk of the talent community that matters and make a difference but none of the men in the legal industry think it is important. Khimani, who recently turned 30, also believes that it isn’t only the gender that created hassles for her but also her age. She says that she always comes across the line, “you don’t understand, we have been in this industry for so long, you’re still young.” This often saddened her as she remembered that these are the same people that saw something different in the way she works and gave her such opportunities many times.
It’s a shame because I think we live in a day and age where age doesn’t really matter so much. Look at our surrounds, look at Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Spotify. Look at all those things that control our lives today and please, go look at the average age of those founders. – Priyanka Khimani
Priyanka Khimani shared with us, during a conversation, there have been innumerable instances where she would be on a call and someone will behave extremely disrespectful, while the second she got a male colleague to mimic what she had to say the behavior changed. Men can be aggressive, that is acceptable but the second a woman is assertive, she is arrogant, aggressive, bitchy. There seems to be a different adjective for the different gender?
Coming back to the industry however, yes it is a male dominated business. The legal professional circle is further more male dominated than that. A. You are dealing with sexism in your fraternity; B. You are dealing with it in the industry. It is just not easy. For women everything they do is like a test, trying to prove our worth at every step. Said Khimani
It’s sad you see a good-looking, well-dressed man, you think wow, he looks very smart and presentable but the moment you look at a sharp, well dressed, good looking lady and think oh wow she’s hot or sexy. Everything else, no one cares, it’s secondary.
Back when Khimani started, one of her own clients, a very celebrated lyricist asked Khimani in the middle of a professional discussion to come by and sit with him. He said, “we need a pretty thing to look at”. The sexism in the industry can sometimes come from your own people and it’s very discouraging. However, you need to have the will to move on and fight for yourself.
Let’s Talk About Priyanka Khimani’s Visit To The GRAMMYS!
It’s obviously almost everyone from the music business wants to be at the Grammys and get an invite to be a part of it. Very few know that the Grammys are not just restricted to the award show. It’s a whole week of conferences, parties, performances and networking events. Priyanka Khimani was invited as a part of a panel titled ‘India goes Global‘. She spoke about the lack of documentation here that slows the growth of the artist in this country. Khimani truly believes that like the Latin market and Despacito, Indian’s will find a hit that will make the global rounds. We must stay true to our roots.
While everyone is interested in China for their high numbers, the Indian music industry in Khimani’s eyes still needs some structuring. Unlike the West, India rarely sees a distinction between a publisher and a record label. The concept of co-owning publishing with the songwriter is alien here. Also, there’s an absence of a fully functional copyright society here. Often poor, or no documentation at all leaves artists in the dark about their rights.
We are not an artist-friendly industry, period. – Priyanka Khimani
On this note, we both remembered an interesting old song by Nelly Furtado feat. Josh called Powerless [Dest mix] which made quite a few rounds on the radio way in the day. Happy throwback!