Mishal Varma the versatile business individual with an eye for opportunities and the ability to develop strategies, models and structures to exploit them. He is the co-founder of the data analytics and intelligence company – KnowWhatsLoved (KWL).

He started his career started in front of the camera, but quickly realized the charm of the business aspect and moved his future to be behind the scenes into management. He explored options in theatre, radio, TV and film.

He joined MTV India as Programming and Talent Relations head. Within a year he was moved to the Asia-Pacific offices to launch and build channels across the Asia-Pacific region. He also a part in developing Live Events for the channels across the region that included the development and launch of the ‘MTV Asia Awards’ and many other Live and TV Platforms.

He completed 10 years at MTV Asia-Pac as Senior Vice President Programming and Talent Artists Relations and left to consult with Media companies in the region. Mishal is also credited with being an executive producer for Czech singer-songwriter, Yaana.

He was one of the producers for the first ever YouTube Global Awards show, ‘The Starcount Awards’, held in Singapore in 2015.

In 2017 Mishal launched ‘Making Moves PTE Ltd.’ in Singapore that will launch ‘Rytrs.com’ in this year. Rytrs.com is a platform for new writers to showcase and monetize their works.

We caught up with Mishal Varma after his fireside chat with globally acclaimed music producer – Arthur Pingrey – after Music Inc to talk about music and the indian music industry’s scope in the global market.

  • What do you think is the state and scope of music in the present scenario in India?
    • MISHAL: Bollywood has been far too dominant for a long time. Given the ever growing consumption of Independents on music platforms I believe we will see the rise of Indie Artists and I look forward to the day when a Bollywood film wants to buy the rights for an Indie song. This should happen and is possible.   
  • How do you think different industries/government can contribute to the music culture?
    • MISHAL: I think the government should spend more on Indian culture inclusive of music. It is sad that in our country, people from one state do not really know more about culture from the other states and I think there lies a distinct opportunity here. We have so many different languages and cultures within and we should educate our audiences of these. We should be proud of our heritage and we should wear it on our sleeves. Industries should add to this and carve out cultural budgets like they have CSR budgets. I know this is being done but there needs to be a more focused approach and a strategy currently [and I may be wrong] it is quite adhoc. 
  • How do you think live music can be integrated into different sections of the industry?
    • MISHAL: Live Music is in itself an industry within the larger Music Industry. However and until recently it is still mainly Bollywood that gets these platforms. This I see is changing, and if this commitment to small live events, radio and other music platforms continues you will see a growing fan base for Indie Artists. When this happens you will see more Indie Artists Festivals. From a commercial standpoint, the audience is still not large enough so you don’t see many of these happening. Additionally where I think it can be inclusive and is natural fit is with sport. There are so many live sport events and these are great platforms for music. Sport in our country is a celebration, a commitment (to the sport stars/teams) and a day out with friends and family. Music is a natural fit here.  
  • What direction do you think the music industry is heading in, in the future?
    • MISHAL: It’s going back to the Artist and where it rightfully should be. Artists can use multiple platforms to connect directly with their audiences and grow them. The middle man will soon be irrelevant. It is an interesting time and a great opportunity for new Artists.  
  • Do you think Indian Music scene has the potential to make a mark in the global music industry?
    • MISHAL: This to me is a loaded question and I shall be extremely critical. Don’t forget English is not our first language and you are competing with a huge group of individuals. I have worked with and advised many local Artists both in India and across Asia and honestly I tell them to be a big fish in their pond rather than a small fish in a global pond. Don’t forget all International Artists who have made it globally were first superstars in their own country. Having said this I believe certain kinds of Indian music/sounds can be picked up and mixed into International music. Bhangra is a great example and there could be more. These can very easily be included in [especially] in EDM which reaches far corners of the world. Additionally, I believe that there is potential for producers and, it could be interesting, as they may help create a new sound. Collaborating with International producers could also be a positive opportunity.  
Author

Rushaki is a restless explorer at heart, always questioning. Started her journey with honours in Psychology, has worked in events related to music and poetry, in an NGO, managed operations at a start-up, handled hospitality and artists at a bar, and now is on a quest to understand business and content. With a draw to the creative arts, is a vocalist for a rock band - Coffee For Giraffes - and also dabbles in poetry. Wishes to find the right answers and the right road someday to put to rest the never-ending questions in her mind.

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