Interview With Ritnika Nayan–Music Gets Me High

About Ritnika Nayan:

ritnika nayan, music gets me high
Ritnika Nayan, CEO and Founder of Music Gets Me High (MGMH)

Ritnika Nayan started her musical career in 2001 at Hofstra University, New York, where she worked in the concerts division of the University for four years. During this time, she organized shows for artists like Maroon 5, Nickelback, Counting Crows to name a few and dealt in various parts of the Live music sector ranging from Tickets, Advertising, Production and Finances. After completing of her Bachelor’s degree in TV/Video from Hofstra, she returned to India, where she dabbled in Television (MTV NY, ITV London, Star India) and Film (Gandhi: My Father) as an Assistant Director.

In 2006, Ritnika moved to London to pursue her Masters in Music Business Management from Westminster University. She worked as a promoter in London for a year managing concerts at venues like the Troubadour, 100 club, Borderline and Nambucca. After a brief work stint at Sincere Management (Peter Jenner), Ritnika moved to India to set up her music company ‘Music Gets Me High (MGMH)’ that deals with artist management, live concerts and merchandise. In 2008, the British Council named Ritnika ‘Young Music Entrepreneur’ runner up. she is strong advocate for local music and believes the Indian music industry needs to be at par with the international world. Ritnika is an active member of music conferences worldwide and was recently ask to be a panelist ta the MUSEXPO 2008, in Los Angeles. She has also taken Drum Training at the prestigious Drum Tech School in London and speaks Hindi, English and Italian.

About Music Gets Me High (MGMH)

Music Gets Me High (MGMH) is a unique concept of music management and booking. The company provides services including:

  • Artist management
  • Live Concerts
  • International/Indian booking Agents
  • Merchandise Manufacturing and Licensing
  • Rehearsal Studio
  • Consultation

Unique as it sounds, the concept of music management sounds new in India.

We had an email interview with Ritnika about her journey as a musician and as an entrepreneur.

Q1. What was the one single point that made you think that this creative could be explored as a business venture in India?

Well, I think the idea of starting my own company came just about when I returned to India after my Masters in Music Biz and realized that no one could really hire me or give me the kind of Job I wanted. So I figured that I needed to create something like that, as India was lacking in that area.

Q2. What did it take to launch the venture? I mean budget, resources, infrastructure and team members?

In the beginning, I started off with just one artist and a mini office at home. So the main investment was a kick-ass website which I thought was necessary. I had noticed that artist management firms that existed in India either didn’t have a good website or an active one (things have changed now); so, I figured that’s the first thing I needed. Besides that, I kept my overheads low and didn’t move into an office space till a year later when money was coming in and that’s when I slowly decided to expand and now we have an office and a rehearsal studio in Okhla.

Q3. What exactly is the market of such a venture? Or to put it in this way, how much market do you wish to cover in terms of artists and customers who want to collaborate with artists?

The best thing about this field is that you don’t have to restrict yourself to a city or to a country. More and more people are getting interested in Indian music and hence it increases the market for Indian artists. Yes, it’s not always easy and only 1% of the Indian artists would get to tour abroad or collaborate with international artists… But that’s still good. All artists that we manage, we manage them for the world and try our best to push them everywhere both in India and abroad.

Q4. How exactly you go about delivering your services? I mean how many team members you have; how you collaborate with other companies, etc.?

My company has employees on a rolling basis; for everyday work, it’s usually just me or one more person. As and when we have bigger projects (like working on a festival or tour), I have a bunch of reliable freelance employees that I hire. This helps me keep the overheads low; plus then, I deal with the artists directly and can control things better. I always like to make sure what’s happening with my company, artists and studio and hence anyone who works for me always reports directly to me.

Q5. What states of India you are focusing right now? Do you feel there is a potential market if someone other wants to open a similar venture?

We don’t concentrate on particular regions and consider the world as our focus. Though in India, metropolitan cities are where most of the action is. It all depends on what you want to do. If a company wants to focus on regional music, they can set up a company anywhere, if they want to do Bollywood, then Mumbai should be their focus. We like to work with Indie artists and hence are open to anyone who has talent and is sellable.

The biggest problem with people setting up similar companies is the lack of knowledge. Unfortunately most people still assume that Music Management is another term for event management. Well, it’s not, and artist management is quite different from an artist booking agency and so on.

Q6. What has been your best performance till now as a musical event organizer?

It’s hard to say… I think Advaita’s album launch at the Habitat was great… So, we also ran a stage at Eastwind which I think was amazing too…though before I came to India I had been involved in shows featuring artists like Counting Crows, Nickelback and Maroon 5.

Q7. Being a musician yourself, do you sometimes feel the tinge that you should be on stage performing rather than back-stage managing the event?

Hahahah all the time… In fact, every time things get rough I go back to the drums and think its time I start playing again. Maybe, I might do both someday soon. It’s just hard to juggle both aspects… As a manager, you have to think in a particular way, while as a musician you are just in the creative zone… So it’s hard to juggle… I do know that if I get back to music performance… I may not come back to the business… It’s a different kind of satisfaction.

Q8. How has been the entrepreneurial journey so far? As a person, did it change you? Any personal experience you would like to share with the readers?

Things sure have been interesting. I don’t think I could have pulled off what I have in any other country so in that sense I am glad I came back to India. But yea, I have changed. When I started, I had a dream, a plan. And the more you work in the industry here, which sadly isn’t quite developed yet the more dishearten you get. But then you realize that your plans have to change to the current market in India so yes it has changed me. Plus, I have noticed that people here don’t really want to work together. There is a lot of competition in the smallest areas, which is good for business but not always good for the growth of the industry. There are too many people who try to undercut the artists and that really bothers me as I try my best not to do that.

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