In 2009, Akhil Sachdeva and his band Nasha (Delhi based sufi-rock band) started their journey on music discovery. Akhil decided to pursue music in his mid 20s. He is a self-made artist, shared the struggles that any independent artist of 21st century in India would. Nasha was one of India’s first few sufi-rock bands, where the band reinterpreted the Sufi genre and added a flavour which was known to very few but definitely appealed the masses. As we all know, there are many who followed this path after Nasha established itself. We’re nearing close to 8 years since it’s inception today, they’re always sold-out for all their public shows. The band has done close to 600+ shows across the country and many international private shows as well.
“I am one of the miraculous few, Music chose me the very same day I chose Music” - said Akhil Sachdeva
Humsafar was written by Akhil nearly 3 years ago. Today T-Series claims Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya to be one of their most successful projects of the year 2017, in terms of both viewers and revenues. On Youtube alone, Humsafar has a total of 140 Million+ viewers (an accumulated number of all versions uploaded of the song by T-Series).
Here are 9 important strategies that I gathered from Akhil Sachdeva and his band’s musical journey to their debut song Humsafar from Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya
Be The First One To Do It!
Nasha had proven on being the first ones for multiple instances. Be it the ones who started the Sufi-Rock wave in India. Or even putting out the first cover song on Youtube which caught everybody’s attention i.e. “Main Tenu Samjhawaan ki” by Nasha, and many other examples. This definitely worked in the band’s favour. Nasha became a trend setter for more than one practices, and was being noted by most renowned music business leaders and consumers. Innovation is the key, and well you already have an upper hand if you’re the first one to do it. Nasha while ensured they were true to themselves throughout, they were constantly innovating and adapting to the needs of their listeners.
They found their new sound, and created a niche market around it! Nasha understood who their listeners are and what they wanted. They focused on what they wanted to sell to their audience, and what they wanted to be known for. A Sufi-Rock Band, that’ll make you have the best night of your life over a drink at your favourite club or even on your date night. They constantly focused on experiences. Nasha understood what their potential fans in Delhi wanted before the consumer even knew! The band’s audience initially was mainly club-going crowd in Delhi. Music fans love something new and unexpected. It creates an excitement! They created a new wave of Sufi-rock music in Delhi, and ensured they won hearts of every Delhiite. Beyond which, talk of word of mouth from a true fan? It spreads like fire. It’s simple influencer marketing.
It was a combination of mastering their sound, image of Akhil Sachdeva, and his attitude which always excited the audience. Today, there is no Delhiite who listens to Hindi Music, and does not know of Akhil Sachdeva & his band Nasha.
Irrespective of being a musician or not, this one is basic! Consistency allows for measurement. How do you measure effectiveness if what you are measuring isn't performed consistently? Nasha ensured the same by being consistent in live engagement and delivering fresh content. Being consistent creates accountability, in this case, being accountable to your fans who make it a point to buy a ticket for your every single gig and show up! It builds a brand and establishes your reputation. Nasha ensured consistency to be relevant, and to maintain their messaging to the fans.
I have repeatedly mentioned this point on other stories as well, Collaboration is a great way to exchange or merge markets and fan-ship! Nasha understood this well in their early stage itself.
They have performed across various venues and have also performed with renowned artists like Ustaad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Mohit Chauhan, Atif Aslam, Priyanka Chopra, Aamir Khan, Hard Kaur, Farhan Akhtar etc. This helped them piggyback on existing following of multiple artists and grab great attention of their existing fans as well as attracting newer audiences. Collaboration also assists in brand positioning.
Nasha mastered their Live set, and understood the value of fan engagement via live shows.
They started promoting their music at College Festivals, and got their first show in a club at Saket called “One Boulevard”. That’s when I first saw the band 8 years ago, I clearly remember it was Christmas eve of 2009. Akhil was setting the stage on fire, serenading the uncontrollable crowed screaming his name. I understood, it was all about the experience created uniquely for the fans. There was a whole bunch of people for whom weekend was about watching “Nasha” and having a couple of drinks, losing their minds out to the sounds of the band. Nasha covered some of the greatest hits of Sufi music, very differently. Each song ensured the emotions remains the same and yet there is a new added flavour to the live cover curated specially for their audiences. This worked in their favour as the fans would sing-along each song they sung.
Akhil knew how to effective engagement was, he often invited women on stage, sang a romantic number for her. As a fan, it is a dream come true, it would make them feel important. Often calling a couple on stage, as they swayed to his romantic numbers. He celebrated his fan’s birthdays with them and ensured connection. There were multiple ways Nasha ensured their fans were engaged and growing. In today's age, it is essential to be a great live performer as much as it is to produce a great song. The energy that Nasha has on stage, is kind of infectious. It’s true for all our successful musicians.
Once Akhil Sachdeva & his band Nasha, had made themselves known in the niche market they started gaining fans & their loyalty. But they understood the right time to aim a little bigger, and understood that sometimes a niche market can only take you so far. Nasha’s music had a flavour which deserved to travel every corner of the country. This was intentionally or non-intentionally very cleverly approached by the band only to ensure that it doesn’t alienate the existing fan base. They had to reach out to their next milestone of getting their debut in a Bollywood film, and geographically expanding their live presence.
Broadening beyond their niche didn't mean for them to change their style, because many bands try to become something they’re not just to appeal more to the mainstream and well, a few do succeed. The best option for them was to ensure they maintain the credibility and not scare off their fans as they reached out to their dream of getting into film music.
Akhil by being consistent, constantly recognised via media, and making his presence felt slowly built his network in the Music Business. If you know any key players in business, or at least have some idea of who does what for which organisation, you already have an advantage. This is why it is important not to sit at home waiting for a miracle. Get to know the right people at events, ask your artist contemporaries about them, and get them to make recommendations or introductions in the best way possible.
It was essential for Akhil to make his presence felt and get noticed. The band did not really use the digital medium to be noticed. They instead took the traditional marketing route. It is enough just to show yourself in public, seek out the right clubs/venues, write to potential fans and connected artists and meet up with them, send demos to record labels, pitch your music to well known blogs, upload your music and exchange actively with like-minded people. Groups of contacts grow continually, based upon other contacts.
To take you down the story behind how Akhil got his first Bollywood gig, we noted Akhil Sachedva’s statement reading “I met Shahshank at a party post his successful film 'Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania'. There I sang Humsafar for him which I had almost written three years back. He got super impressed with the track, and promised me the song to be in his next movie,"
They focused on their niche, this was essential to build a strong fan-base. Before they moved to newer geographies they ensured Delhi was hooked to their shows and created their territory where every club wanted them, and no show was left that wasn’t sold-out.
After years of packed months of public shows, Nasha in their mid years decided to slow down and work on their original music. Don’t get me wrong, slowing here down didn't mean to cut-off from the scene. It was more to do with reducing the number of public shows they accepted to ensure people are constantly waiting to see them again. This also helped them be narrow focused and ensure quality output. Specially after Humsafar was launched, we can note a dip in the frequency of gigs but increased evaluation of the band in clubs. As the demand rose, they carefully channeled their approach and built on this need. They started focusing on quality and less quantity. This helped their fans constantly wait, and willing to pay any price to see them when they announced their 1st show after Humsafar was released.
Today, Akhil has already recorded his second song for an upcoming film scheduled to be released this year. To give you a teaser, it’s another one which will keep you hooked to it all day, wait for it!
He’s true to his original style of compositions. Nasha will always remain, no matter how many Bollywood numbers Akhil Sachdeva sings. Finding and succeeding in a niche market isn’t such a daunting task as long as you keep true to yourself and provide that ‘edge’ to boost you above the competition. Allow yourself ways of diversifying as well. Many niche genres hit popularity but die down quickly and have to adapt and change slightly to survive in the long term.
Focusing on the touring aspect in an artist’s career, RE:Play is all set to reinvent the touring landscape in India....
September 26, 2022
The company now features a completely redesigned website and new look, a custom colour palette and a creative logo that....
September 23, 2022
MX Player continues to lead the way as the world’s second app to have crossed over 1 billion downloads.
September 23, 2022
The startup was launched on 21 september at the All About Music conference in Mumbai, and we’ll have a deeper....
September 22, 2022