By Ojasvi Kapoor
With an aim to provide a platform to independent musicians and singer songwriters and to boost the indie music scene in India, Songfest India, a music tech company flagged off Songfest Xplore. The season 1 of Xplore invited entries from independent artists to submit their original compositions and Xplore would provide them with a platform to showcase their music. Songfest, with its subscriber base of 500k plus on YouTube, aims to be the perfect platform to boost new talent. Gaurav Dagaonkar, co-founder, Songfest India and his team also ensured that all six songs were promoted and marketed in the best possible manner. Excerpts from an interview with Gaurav on the idea behind creating Xplore, the process of selecting the artists and the continuation of Xplore as a property.
In an exclusive interview with loudest, Gaurav Dagaonkar spoke about Songfest india journey and more.
Q1: We would love to know about your journey with songfest and the motive behind launching a platform like Songfest Xplore for artists from India?
The Songfest journey started four years ago with a dream of creating exciting music with talented artists. Ever since the inception of Songfest, we have been successful in producing several award-winning IPs. We have worked with established singers like Shaan and Monali Thakur, and with some very popular influencers and artists alike. We have also given a platform to newer artists. How Xplore came about is quite interesting. The pandemic crippled the music industry which resulted in a complete stoppage of gigs. Musicians did not have any professional work and were struggling during this period. We noticed this and thought of creating an IP that was purely for independent musicians. We wanted to provide a platform to young musicians to showcase their talent and create a space where artists from all over India can stand a chance to get featured. That’s when we put together Xplore with a strong call to action and invited musicians from all across the country to submit their original songs.
Q2: How is Songfest Xplore different from any other IP that supports independent music creators
Songfest Xplore is an open IP where people can write in to us and submit their original compositions. It’s a very open and welcoming IP. How it differs from other IPs is the fact that, unlike other IPs, we don’t ask the artists to bear the cost of the video, marketing, promotions and tie-ups. At Xplore, we assume the role of a mentor. We were pleasantly surprised during Season 1 because many artists whom we selected were being featured on a platform for the very first time.
Q3: So what is the process of selection of artists and the diverse independent musical talent available in the country?
Songfest has its own editorial team which consists of 5 brilliant people with very diverse musical tastes and knowledge. We have also taken inputs from various sources including our Marketing team and industry experts as well. The most important criteria when it came to choosing artists was the quality of their songs. We also looked at the promise that an artist showed and the belief that they had what it takes to shine. Out of the 250 entries we received, there were more than 150 exceptional songs which made the evaluation process quite challenging for us. Sarthak Kalyani’s song stood out from the rest because he is an exceptional vocalist and composer. Reena Gilbert’s Intezaar was very contemporary and the structure of her song was truly remarkable. There was also Akshay Nimkar with his song which had a very melodious band-like quality, which was great because this will be his first release. To summarize it, we chose the songs that stayed with us. We chose those tracks that our team was humming at the end of the day.
Q4. What will be the variety of tracks about to be released on Songfest Xplore?
The first release on Xplore is by the very accomplished vocalist, Sarthak Kalyani’s ‘Saahiba’. This track has a very Indian melody to it which is almost semi-classical. Next is ‘Intezaar’ by Reena Gilbert is a lovely track due to its contemporary synthwave. Akshay Nimkar and his band submitted a bunch of songs out of which we chose one. Keshav Huria’s song stood out for its innovative, fresh structure. Shaurya Sharma and Metropeace are also a part of Season 1. The listener essentially will get treated to several genres like rap, hip-hop, retrosense, Indian classical. It’s a varied palette that we are serving up.
Q5. As Songfest is doing great work, what are your expectations from Xplore?
What’s important to us is the fact that the artists are super thrilled to have received such an opportunity. We tend to forget about the struggle of musicians in process of keeping the fans happy. We want these artists to feel enriched with Songfest Xplore. We also want our YouTube subscribers to be happy with these new songs. Additionally, we believe that it is very crucial to keep on feeding new artists to the ecosystem as it is a very healthy thing for the independent scene. I would also want to take this space to mention that we would love to see more female singer-songwriters participate in Season 2, because we received limited applications from women as compared to their male counterparts. This skewed gender ratio is one issue that we would like to address about the Indian music industry.
Q6. What are the upcoming projects Songfest India is working on?
Xplore will continue over the next few weeks with several promotional campaigns and music videos releasing in line. Songfest is working on releasing a few music videos for its channel as well where we will be collaborating with several influencers and celebrities. The focus would be to generate story-based music videos and to create high-end content with brands and OTTs in the music space. Another important goal that we are setting up for ourselves is to work with at least one or two new artists each week. So, over the next year, we would like to work with at least 50 to 100 artists throughout the year. Also, with Songfest Xplore Season 2, we are aiming at discovering independent artists in the regional space.