On Wednesday, Aishwarya Natarajan’s life unexpectedly turned around for the better. That was the day when the 29-year-old won the Young Creative Entrepreneur Music Award (YCE) 2011 presented by the British Council, for her work in Indian classical music.
Founder of Indianuance, an artist management and programming company dedicated solely to Indian classical and semi-classical music, Natarajan manages and promotes six artists under her company’s banner, including Shashank Subramanyam, the modern-day Indian flute maestro.
She initiated this company to bridge the gap between the Indian classical artist and the audience, and to provide new platforms to showcase Indian classical music through collaborations, baithaks and concerts.
“Record labels don’t produce albums; the radio and TV also don’t feature Indian classical music, so the only avenue we are left with is live shows,” says Natarajan.
Now with the YCE award bagged, she is optimistic about new platforms for these live concerts, even at a global level, she says.
For starters, in May, Natarajan is off to the Great Escape festival in the UK with the British Council, and is already bursting with energy, ideas and presentations to take along with her.
Natarajan, before setting up Indianuance in 2010, worked in Delhi in the record label business. At companies like Music Today and Sa Re Ga Ma, she worked on the content and marketing front, across genres for four years, where she interacted with many Indian classical musicians on a regular basis.
“I remember a renowned classical musician telling me once, ‘I wish somebody could understand us’, Natarajan recalls.
She realised then that the Indian classical artist needed a professional manager, who could understand what they do and package their music in new ways.
Belonging to a family of composers and musicians, she has studied Carnatic music for 25 years and therefore had the necessary understanding of the form.
But at the same time she knew how intimidating the genre could be for most people, especially the younger lot.
But over the course of one year, Natarajan has been trying to change the mindset — of the audience as well as of the artists.
She sits with the artists, understands their personalities, their music and chalks out ways in which she can help each of these artists make a mark.
“Some may need to up their visual presence by using audio-visuals in concerts; for some like Shashank Subramanyam, collaborations can work well,” she explains.