The evolution of music tourism in India

While India boasts of its rich cultural heritage and attracts many international travellers for the same, back home it has now started taking pride in matching top notch global music festivals.


A festival lover’s dream

2017 will be an action packed year for music lovers in the country. With its diverse culture and historically rich background, India is not only a traveller’s paradise but also a festival enthusiast’s sanctuary. From the picturesque hills of Shillong to the vast deserts of Jaisalmair, there are numerous tracks to fill up your sound cloud playlist.

India is home to almost 20-25 big ticketed music and food festivals. As per industry numbers up to 1.5 million unique attendees (not including the ones who attend multiple events) are buying tickets to these fests. Sunburn claimed an annual footfall of 350,000 in 2015. Viacom’s VH1 Supersonic, claimed the around the same number of people over its main festival and auxiliary events all over the country.

More than just Music

Music festivals today are not only about the music, the idea behind it is to sell an experience. And nowadays the experience is expensive. The venue has to be large enough to accommodate a cheering and thumping crowd. The stage has to be set in a structured way. It is not only the artists that get employed but such fests make way for a lot of jobs and tourism in the fest city.

If it is a destination specific fest then that involves travelling to the city, luxury, accommodation, local travel, food, décor of the event, sound systems, catering barricades, bars etc. The organisers need to have a tight security control and medics on stand by. You have to set up food stalls and merchandise stalls. Then there are art installations that people can take selfies around. The experience curation is 360 degrees.

The festival also act as grounds for budding partnerships. The grub fest 2017 saw Witlinger beer as the official pouring partner for the event. “We were quite overwhelmed and excited to be the official pouring partner at The Grub Fest. It was the perfect fiesta for food and beer fanatics and we were excited to see all food and beverage aficionado. It was a good platform to experience and enjoy real craft beer. The crowd turned out to be really nice and Witlinger was appreciated by many” says Anuj Kushwah MD and Founder, Kaama Breweries.

Move over Bollywood

Unlike most entertainment in India, the music festival scene is not dominated by mainstream Bollywood music. The festival bring to people a number of underground artist and new genres of music; rock, pop, edm, blues to name a few.

The Business Model

The challenge associated with all music fests is their up scaling. And EDM fests particularly have a hard time as they always associate with world renowned artists. DJ’s like Tiesto, Martin Garrix , Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike, Hardwell and the likes. The booking cost of these artists is immense. Plus there is an additional cost of travel, luxury hotels, and travel for the crew, equipment insurance, etc. Thus to make such a fest popular and successful they have to draw more people every year and to bring more people in, they have to book bigger artists. It is a self-devouring cycle of debt.

Experiential festivals like NH7 Weekender and Magnetic Fields have it a little easier, where the artists are not at the heart of the draw. They use the ‘experience’ to pull the crowd. These festivals work on a sponsorship model. Sponsorships subsidize costs significantly, so organizers are not dependent on footfalls to bring in the revenue. NH7 Weekender is the prime example of this model, where up to 70% of revenue is from sponsors and 30% from ticket sales.

Music Bigwigs

The music fiesta for the year has only begun for 2017. It is that time of the year now, where you reach out to that side of your wardrobe which you wouldn’t normally. Time to brush the dust of your flowery crown, pack your bags and immerse in the music. Here are some of the must attend music fiestas for a lifetime worth of experience.

1- Bacardi NH7 Weekender
NH7 is pegged as the happiest music festival. The festival which is colourful and diverse also quenches the thirst for wanderlust of many. It kicked off in 2010 and is the biggest platform for independent artists and musicians. NH7 has brought Indie music culture to the forefront in Indian music scenario.

2- Enchanted Valley Carnival
The EDM festival which takes place in Amby Valley is a must have experience for EDM lovers. The festival offers best electronic acts from across the globe. The festival is a camping experience along with some of the biggest artists in the world performing for you.

3- Sunburn
The most popular music festival began as a massive beach party in 2007. The festival venue has now changed to Pune, but does not change the craze around the festival. The fest is single handed impacted how India’s music scene has been viewed around the world.

4- VH1 Supersonic
The festival which took place in Pune this year was a celebration with hours and hours of non-stop back to back music from the best Dance Music DJs in the country and from the world – with the audience grooving to every tune. Organized by Live Viacom18, the experiential arm of media giant Viacom18, Supersonic is among the new entrants who have scaled up considerably quick.

5- Hornbill International Music Festival, Kohima
Organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments of Nagaland, the Hornbill Festival is held for 10 days, from December 1 till 10 at Kisama, 12 kilometers from Kohima. The Hornbill International Music Festival is part of a bouquet of events that showcase the rich culture and heritage of Nagaland. The Music Festival attracts audience from India and abroad.The competition features some of the best talent around, which is judged by renowned actors and musicians.

6- Magnetic Fields, Alsisar Mahal, Shekhawati, Rajasthan
Spanning over three long days, this music festival is about more than 40 bands and DJs performing at three stages. With a plethora of regional and local music artists as well as plenty of international ones performing at the 17th century Alsisar Mahal property, Magnetic Fields draws crowds from Rajasthan, Delhi and all across India and the world. It’s a quirky mix of contemporary music performed at a heritage hotel in the midst of the dunes.

7- Ziro Festival of Music, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Started in 2012 by Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty and Bobby Hano, and hosted by the Apatani tribe, this four-day festival is a melting pot of music and musicians from across India and the world. With bands like the Indus Creed, Sha’air, Louw Majaw, Barmer Boys, and Peter Cat Recording Company participating in the music festival, this event brings forth some of the best talent around. A fantastic location – a valley that’s 5,500 feet above sea level, and a music-loving population, this one is a must attend.

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