Srishti Das on Organizing India’s Largest Music Conference
Srishti Das, M.A.'16 works as business analyst and content specialist at Loudest.in. Photo courtesy of Das.
Srishti Das M.A. ’16 knew she was taking up a challenge when in November 2017 she was hired as business analyst and content specialist for Loudest.in, India’s primary source of information on trends and innovation in music, and organizer of Music Inc., the first and largest conference dedicated to music branding and technology ever organized in the world’s second most populated country. Not everyone is prepared to put together talks and panels totalling 80 speakers, in just 40 days, let alone divide all the managerial and logistical tasks between just two people.
The conference, which took place in Mumbai, India, on June 12 and 13, was attended by approximately 700 people. “I was hired to start working on the conference, but we only got the official thumbs up from the investor and founder about 40 days before. It was very difficult for us to pull off logistically, but fortunately we had begun to develop the content, which we kept updating over a span of about three months. We also received a lot of support and help from some top professionals within the industry that helped us move forward rapidly,” she says.
The conference was organized by Aparajita Misra, editorial lead and cofounder of Loudest.in. As her right hand in this two-person team, Das’s tasks were extremely varied. “The roles that I took on, with utmost passion, were curating all the music X Tech panels and handling operations for the conference,” she says. Das also put together two other panels that she calls very close to her heart: 'Independent: When Will Passion Make Profit', for which she worked with Vijay Basrur from OK Listen, a distribution company in India for independent music, and 'Growth Hacking: Music and Sports', with guest speakers like Swaroop Banerjee, business mentor; Sam Middlehurst, Founder of Music Run; Shailendra Singh, founder of Sunburn Festival; Vinit Karnik, business head of entertainment, sports, and live events at GroupM; Uday Sodhi, head of digital business at Sony Pictures Networks India; and Maneesha Khanna, director of global media and content at PepsiCo.
“I don’t think anything gratified me as much as the success of my music and sports panel as these topics were my biggest passion when growing up. It was a very tough one to put together because people who understood what I wanted to convey were unavailable due to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and other professionals did not believe in my idea. Finally, I got to pull together a panel with a lot of big names, and it worked great for the conference, and for me professionally,” she says.
Das and Associate Professor Alexandre Perrin, at the Graduation Ceremony 2016.
Das shares that the speakers were impressed with the quality of the content the conference provided. “Key people in the local music industry, like Atul Churamani, who works a great deal with publishing, told us that they learned something from each session. That was a huge motivator for me as well as for the team as we put a lot of thought and discussion into developing each panel and talk,” she says.
As a graduate of the Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business program, Das says that the education acquired during her time at Berklee’s campus in Valencia came in handy when putting the conference together. “There were so many times while curating and researching that Aparajita and I would have huge discussions about topics that were new or not widely acknowledged in India, like music supervision, publishing, or growth hacking, and I would always have a new angle to it. I was also able to invite Yvan Boudillet, who was one of our guest professors on campus, to speak about consumer strategy and technology, which were my areas of study,” she says.
Das explains that India is slowly transitioning from being known as a Bollywood country to one that embraces newer music genres. “There’s a huge following for Indian hip-hop, and we had Badshah, who is one of the biggest names of this genre, come and talk not only about his music, but how his growing success is making him indulge in entrepreneurship,” she says. She considers India to be an up-and-coming market, and she highlights that the country is already at the top when it comes to sports and film. “The advantage India has that only China can beat are the number of people residing here. When you target a small group, you actually target a huge number when compared globally. However, the sad truth, for me, is that the industry has been slow to adopt technology as their own. After all, this is the land of music and engineers. Innovation, that’s what I am expecting from India’s future,” she says.
Organizing the Unorganized
After graduation, Das decided to return to her home country. “I wanted to come back and gain experience in India so that it would become easier to understand a market like Europe. I loved Spain and really wanted to stay, but someone recently told me that if you do well, you either get to fulfill your dreams or you get to help someone fulfill theirs. Many Indian artists helped me realize how much fun I have working in music, so I had to give back, which is something I keep doing,” she says.
Her day-to-day job at Loudest.in as a business analyst and content specialist involves developing business strategies and handling the content of the company’s website. “Aparajita is the dreamer and the creative mind. I’m the reality checker and co-executor,” she says. Her areas of interest focus on consumer and fan strategy, and consumer and spectator engagement for music and sports. She explains where her passion for sports comes from: “World Cup anthems would drive me to like an artist, or I would like an artist more if they followed the sports I loved. My dream of working in sports slowly started to come back when we studied economics of creative industries at Berklee Valencia.”
Since she is back in India, Das has also been working for several companies, record labels, and consultancies in areas like business development, content, communications, and strategy, and her future plans involve pursuing a doctorate in communication technology. “Right now the focus is engagement, then research and gaining expertise. At Berklee Valencia I learned how the ideal market should be by understanding the best and worst case scenarios. I would like to take the information I’ve learned from an unorganized sector like India and then apply that to newer markets as problem solving in any mid-to-ground market should be much easier. Hopefully I will find the right mentor to help me build my own business,” she says.