Vijay Nair’s win is a certain shot in the arm for Indian alternative music. The twenty five-year-old Mumbai-based music impresario recently won the Young Music Entrepreneur (IYME) of 2009 at the Great Escape music fest, United Kingdom.
Years back, when I first interacted with Vijay, he had started to manage Mumbai act Zero, and I wasn’t the only one who thought he had some “attitude”. Today that “attitude” of this teenager could be called far sighted and — without wanting to sound heavy — courage of conviction.
Considering he was only seventeen when he jumped on to the bandwagon; it’s fair to say that he and the Indian rock scene have grown together. Nair, who started off managing bands, went on to establish an artists’ management company Only, Much Louder (OML) and a fairly successful Indie label, Counter Culture records.
While he is happy to win he says he’s glad that it didn’t come easy. “The other participants are doing some outstanding work and the panel of judges had some credible names. Being awarded by Marin Elborne (founder of music WOMAD and Great Escape fests) was another trip,” he says.
How did music management happen, for a guy who by his own admission was the quintessential Malayali student stereotype? “When a rock band asks you to travel with them, get them gigs and generally hang around — you just say ‘yes’. I was never really into music or anything else that didn’t involve mathematics. Although all those maths lessons help — especially the ones that deal with percentage. I never planned to make a career out of it. It’s been purely accidental.”
So while we all save our moral souls by saying no to piracy, Vijay brings out a different side of ‘the evil’. “Music has always been free for most of our fans. The sooner you understand that, it’s easier to promote your artists... So while some people might look at a 16-year-old downloading music as a pirate, I don’t think we can thank him/her enough for spending their precious time and bandwidth downloading music and spreading the word about it, without asking for money!”
And he’s not just stopping at letting the music flow, he wants alternative musicians to be recognised by the government and the genre as an industry. “There are about 2,000 concerts a year, over 500 bands, 50 odd live venues and about 30 bands releasing albums every year. I think the ministry-in-charge of tagging should update their database instantly. We are already there and here to stay.” Here’s wishing him all the luck and hoping many more from the scene get the recognition they deserve.