Tej Brar is a name nobody is a stranger to. All of the music industry is well aware of his brand of brilliance. He is the name behind the phenomenal rise of Nucleya in the market.
Right now, Tej is making waves in the music industry as the drive behind Third Culture Entertainment. With an extensive background in artist management, audio engineering, radio, venue programming & music licensing – Tej started this company in 2017 after spearheading the artist management division at Only Much Louder. He has also worked with Warner Chappell Music (Los Angeles), Universal Mastering (Los Angeles), BBC 6Music (London), WERS 88.9FM (Boston) & Clouds FM (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania). He has worked extensively on various festival IP’s as well as experiential marketing and client servicing.
We reached out to Tej Brar after his panel – India’s Rising Creative Entrepreneurs – at Music Inc 2.0 to discuss his views on the present state of music industry and how Third Culture contributes to the growth of the same.
- What was your take away from Music Inc 2.0?
- My biggest take away from the conference was just a tremendous sense of growth. It was great seeing a confluence of so many different stakeholders in the music industry together under one roof. It’s rare to have professionals from so many diverse streams together and when they do get together, it usually ends in some pretty great deals. Personally speaking, I had 3-4 conversations there at the conference that I am now following up on which should yield some great partnerships.
- What do you think is the state and scope of music in the present scenario in India?
- That is an extremely broad and open ended question, far too much so to be answered in a few lines. Generally speaking, I think things are better than they have ever been before – across the board. Whether you are an artist, manager, agent, producer, promoter or content platform, you have benefitted from the exponential growth of the Indian Music Industry over the last 10 years. There is no denying that. As far as the scope goes, I think we’re going to be one of the biggest music markets in the world in the next 5-7 years and that will open up the doors to an entire slew of new opportunities.
- How do you think different industries/government can contribute to the music culture?
- That’s a good question. My basic answer to this is broken down into two sections. The first is legal. There is a lot of grey area in the legal framework that promoters and event producers have to follow when executing a large format event on ground i.e. not in an existing venue like a club or bar. This ranges from the kinds of police permission required, NOC’s and excise licenses all the way up to PPL and Novex certificates, there is just no clear outline that spells it out for the promoter or event producer. This leaves the producer vulnerable to having their event interrupted, even if they have done their best to do everything by the book. We need a clear set of rules, broken down by the state which we will happily follow to ensure our events run seamlessly. The second point is that the government should recognise the music culture within India as part of a formalised industry. We are not operating in a parallel shadow economy, we pay a very substantial amount of tax and actually run our businesses in a much more formalised manner than a lot of other industries out there. I feel it’s only fair for the government to recognise our tax contributions and try to make operations for our businesses a little easier, say for example introducing a single window licensing system for large scale events. All the other stuff about cultural impact, etc is secondary – these are practical points the government can act on in a language that they understand – laws and taxes.
- How do you think live music can be integrated into different sections of the industry?
- I think live music has taken quite a beating the last couple of years with the advent of DJ culture in India. There are way less gigs for live bands than there ever have been in the past. This is understandable, as it’s far more cost effective for promoters and venues to program DJ’s than bands, which have a much larger touring party, backline requirements and might still not pull in an audience bigger than a DJ, sometimes far less. I think the real way for live acts to get a foothold in the industry is to really work on two areas – distribution and performance. I think a lot of bands get really caught up in the writing of material and kind of obsess over that, instead of thinking about how to get the maximum number of people to listen to it once it’s released. Secondly, I think a lot of bands don’t really rehearse enough or really perfect their show, it’s just done kind of as an afterthought if they are booked for a gig. I think it’s totally the bands responsibility to have an incredible live performance, that’s what will ultimately win them fans and will result in repeat bookings from promoters and venues.
- What direction do you think the music industry is heading in, in the future?
- Well I think that’s a hard question to answer with any measure of specificity, but here are my broad thoughts on it. India has one of the youngest populations in the world, with about 65% of the countries population below the age of 35. We currently have about 600 million smartphone users across the country and that number will jump to about 800 million in the next 3-4 years. Our mobile data rates are amongst the cheapest in the world, with some service providers like JIO even providing data FOC for certain plans. Lastly, English is a national language in India (unlike China) with a very significant amount of the Indian population already fluent. If you combine these factors above, what we basically have is a young population that speaks English and is plugged into the internet, so they are aware of what is happening musically across the globe. We are no longer playing catch up, we’re in sync with trends, songs and artists as they break globally. So, to sum it up, I would say the future is looking very bright and we are going to see India emerge as a major market for international artists both for content and touring.
- How do you think Third Culture is contributing to the music scene?
- We are doing our part by providing services across the board to a number of different segments of the music industry. Of course, Artist Management is what we are known for and will continue to be the cornerstone of our business, however we have also diversified into event production and have been handling events on ground for clients like Redbull, and executing festivals like Bass Camp and Goa Sunsplash. Further, we are just about to launch our music distribution platform which will basically serve as a pipeline for us to deliver both international releases to Indian streaming platforms as well as export Indian talent to streaming platforms and stores across the globe. We also provide international standard mastering at an affordable rate to Indian artists through our exclusive partnership with Metropolis Studios, UK. Lastly, we will be moving into the promoter space with us touring a number of international acts across the country over the next 12 months. Definitely stay tuned for some exciting announcements from us coming soon!