Arjun Sagar Gupta is the man behind “The Piano Man” group. Widely reputed for pioneering several distinct brands under the group, from a musical supper-theatre concept in a jazz bar to an Eurasian restaurant, Arjun and his team have built successful concepts in the arts as well as F&B spaces. Currently The Piano Man group today owns and manages The Piano Man Jazz Club, The Piano Man Bakery, Dirty Apron and The Piano Man Events and Artist Management Company.
His journey with jazz began in his early teens and his love for music grew from an appreciation of the music to an aspiration to play it and then a deep-set desire to share it with people around him. Arjun has been an active member for several years on the board of “Capital Jazz," the organisation behind the “Jazz Utsav”.
In an exclusive chat with loudest.in,Arjun Gupta talks about his group “The Piano Man”.
Tell us about The Piano Man? What's your vision, and what drives you towards such a venture in India?
Over time, The Piano Man has established itself as Delhi NCR's cherished centre of culture especially for Jazz music. We have planned some of the nation's most prestigious and incredible music programming, including the renowned Giants of Jazz initiative. For jazz fans in South Delhi and Gurugram, it is a window into the rich jazz culture throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
The Piano Man has established a thriving artist ecosystem that aims to promote and nurture artists in India by giving them a space that provides an audience that values their talent. This ecosystem is based on the idea of putting the artist first. Additionally, we are in the midst of opening a new property in Delhi that will be unique and grandeur in terms of architecture, design and ambience.
What motivates me as a person is a fact that I am a music enthusiast and have been playing the piano for almost ten years. So I created a space called The Piano Man with the intention of fostering talent in India and giving up-and-coming musicians a place to showcase their skills and advance in the business.
How do you see the Music industry evolving in the country in the coming years?
Music has been a very dynamic field and a creative art form that has always been open to experimentation. With genres from across the globe having access to more exposure owing to the digital revolution or social media boom, the boundaries have blurred, giving listeners a chance to enjoy music from a wide range of artists/bands.
I do believe that the Indian music industry has evolved for the better in the last few years and will continue to do so. Having much better access (comparatively) to music and musical instruments, there is a big pool of young talents making music and sharing it with people.
The exposure levels are excellent; one click can take you to millions. However, I do feel that an environment that respects and prioritises artists is still a work in progress. Every form of art is challenging, and not being able to get paid or appreciated for your work can be pretty demotivating. For the same reason, we at The Piano Man follow an ‘artist first’ philosophy. Music is the essence that binds many and is always good to see it grow. The scope is vast, and we hope we can create equal opportunities for the talent that we have in the country.
What's your idea of driving sales/tickets in the market in the presence of aggregators like Insider and BookMyShow?
The Piano Man has more than 112 shows (approx.) every month. We cater to an audience who loves music and comes here to have a taste of different artists/bands from across genres. With catering to such a wide listener, it is important for us to maintain consistency and easy checkout during ticket sales.
This is the very reason we sell primarily through our own website. People have access to all our shows and performing artists in a clear calendar format, and the check-out is equally easy. Of course, some of our shows are also available through the aggregators, but we do feel selling through our website is much more effective for our business.
Comparatively, we have a lot more shows than those listed on the aggregator’s website/app. And we firmly believe driving traffic and audience directly is much easier. It even reduces challenges one may face like difficulty in cancellation of tickets, mis/wrong information about the show and related.
What is Scratch Card all about? What's your idea behind the concept?
The goal of Scratch Card is to promote comedy whole as a concept rather than driving audiences on the popularity of artists. The idea is to draw audiences back to the stages for their love for gimmicks, limericks and jokes in an attempt to create a prejudice-free environment for all artists. Therefore, the handpicked line-up of comedians performing is not named, contributing to the notion that the audience is there for laughter and not just the artist's name.
In essence, Scratch Card hosts stand-up comedy performances where the line-up is kept secret, and only those who show up will know. “Expect nothing and Get Anything” is meant to make the audience squirm since you never know what will happen. The Piano Man's scratch cards are a complete bonanza; you never know when you'll land a global superstar or get to say "yeh kaun hai."
You are bringing back Giants of Jazz; tell us all about it?
Giants of Jazz brings together a roster of musicians from different countries and explores the evolution of jazz's varied individual characteristics. With musicians and bands like Akoda, Zero Gravity, Blessing Chimanga and many more, this year's musical celebration is unmatched in every way. For all jazz enthusiasts, it promises to be a week-long show. It conveys and exhibits what jazz lovers respect as an art form by capturing the spirit of jazz and the intricacies of the genre.
Giants of Jazz is a musical event that genuinely honours the spirit of the art form and what we have as a platform, and we are happy to bring it back. It brings the world of jazz onto the stage and perfectly harmonises with the artist's original philosophy. The line-up for the event this year has incredible musicians and performers who are masters and legends in their own right and who will push the envelope even further.
What's the artist selection process at The Piano Man?
At The Piano Man we have an artist-first philosophy which is the building block for all the performances when it comes to the selection process. All artists are given an equal opportunity to showcase their art on a recognised platform. We believe in promoting talent and nurturing careers for budding artists and recognised professionals. There is no disparity when it comes to remuneration; we have a set pay scale regardless of the popularity of the musicians through which we pay. This ensures that all artists are compensated equally without any partiality
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