Music with a price tag...

COSTLY TUNES

Music for all and without borders is nearly a thing of the past now. There was a time when the City’s music culture had made it into the lives of everybody.

Commercialised : Listening to live music has become an expensive affair in the City.

Now, it comes at a price, a hefty one at that sometimes. The City’s live music spots, however diminished by licence rules in place, are still some of the hottest weekend hangouts for youngsters.

Although the cultural centres in town that still believe in free music, the pubs and bars that double up as performance spaces take the opportunity to make an extra buck or two if not merely cover production costs. Cover charges, entry tickets and a combination of both have turned common and live music no more comes without a fee.

Music, like many others, is now turning into an expensive hobby. Lead vocalist of Swarathma, Vasu Dixit tells Metrolife that music indeed has become expensive and is almost next to unaffordable. “Sometimes I can’t afford it despite being a musician myself.

Also, the places are so expensive that I hardly get to eat anything out of the cover charge. I wouldn’t pay so much for a show as there are many great musicians who perform for free. When my band plays at venues that are on the expensive side, there are many friends I don’t invite because of the cost factor,” he says.

“Among the more affordable places are Alliance Francaise and another one in Whitefield. I wait for a band to play there if I really want to watch them. On the other hand, I understand the costs that involve putting up a show and believe charging people for a concert is not completely unjustified,” he adds. The musician also believes that increase in competition with a larger number of venues can result in a solution.

While musicians themselves think twice before heading out to a show that charges Rs 500 upwards, there are others who will go any length for the music they want to experience live. “I don’t think concert costs are anywhere close to exorbitant unless it is big bands like ‘Metallica’. The price you pay for bands like that and other popular ones is quite worth it. As for the affordability factor, the City has mostly jazz and rock concerts and many different venues that fit every budget. There is no lack of option,” says Nimeet Shah, an IT employee.

The most affected in this case are easily the students who are forced to shell out more than they can afford, just to get a taste of live music. “Among all the venues, those with entry prices not exceeding Rs 200 are affordable and that is perhaps why they always manage a big line-up of shows. Places that charge as much as Rs 500 for entry become too expensive for us. Also, I have noticed from personal experience that free shows manage to reach out to a lot more people,” says Ashwin Alexander, a student of Christ University and the drummer of bands like ‘Corrode’ and ‘Dead End Street’.

Recalling an incident, he says, “I was playing at the ‘Big Junction Jam Festival’ last year. Even though the entry fee wasn’t high, there were very few people in the audience except the bands themselves. On the same day, I dropped in at the Alliance Francaise that was featuring a free show by an international artiste and saw the place being house full”.

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