Fairy lights on the ceiling, cushions and bean bags on the floor, some snacks, and an artiste strumming on his guitar and crooning to an audience of five-six people. Does this sound like the setting of a concert? Well, believe it or not – it is! And a private one at that.
Intimate concerts such as these are fast becoming popular in the city, with dedicated organisations like Sofar Sounds , House Concert India , etc, working towards turning private gigs into a lucrative trend. And independent and freelance music artistes are only too happy to earn some dough and exposure by serenading people on on birthdays and anniversaries, and during proposal dinners.
Vinita Singh, a 27-year-old apparel store manager in Indore , recently organised a private gig night for her fiance's birthday to make the celebrations extra special. “We’re engaged and getting married by the end of the year, and I wanted his last birthday as a bachelor to be a night he cherishes. I looked up some ideas on the web and found this one interesting. So, instead for going for a loud club night, I arranged a surprise unplugged night at my farmhouse, and invited only our closest friends. It was certainly quite intimate and added that fantasy, romantic novel-like feeling to the celebration,” she shares. Arpit Syrawat, the freelance music artiste who played at the event, adds, “It was my birthday too! But instead of having a big celebration for myself, I became a part of someone’s special day and could see how much the couple enjoyed the private music session, as they could just be themselves. No other music concert or dancing night could come close to such intimate affairs – and that’s what keeps me hooked!”
“Most of the requests are for birthday and anniversary celebrations, but of late, I have also played at other occasions like a gathering of old friends who love music or even for a group looking to unwind after a stressful day,” says Shivangi Yadav, a vocalist from Mhow . Most in demand at such gigs is Bollywood and acoustic music. As the night progresses, and the audiences get hooked to the musician playing – some of the artistes also float their original compositions to test it in front of an audience. “At private concerts, you know that everyone sitting in front of you is a music lover. It's the best platform for us to test our material, since it is an informal and friendly get-together. Till date, I’ve got the most honest response to my originals at such gigs, rather than a stage concert,” says Deepak Nair, an acoustic guitarist.
Another perk for music artistes taking up such private concerts is the undivided time and attention they get at the gigs. Sarthak Gupta, an engineering student who also moonlights as an independent musician, says, “Who wouldn’t want this stardom? Even if it is with a limited audience – they’re the ones who have made special time and place just to have that one musical evening! We get way more playing time and autonomy at private concerts, as the patrons leave it upon the artiste to figure out the scene for the evening. Corporate concerts, cafe gigs and even stage shows give you limited time to perform, and sometimes you even share the stage with other performers. We are the stars here!”
“This was the much needed platform independent music artistes like me. In an age where musicians are increasing by the day, getting good stage time is a huge struggle. At these private gigs though, the recognition is instant and multiplies at a rapid pace through social media and word-of-mouth publicity,” adds Shivangi.
The fee for such gig usually depends on the hours the artiste puts in. “Some people hire a soloist, while others prefer at least a two-piece or three-piece group for private gigs. The more the artistes, the more the instruments , and the higher the charge. An average artiste charges between Rs 3,000 and 5,000 for a three-hour hour private concert. If we play together, we try to figure out a better deal for the patrons, which covers our sound setup cost as well,” says Arpit. Shivangi adds, “5K remains the standard base amount for a small group of people. Sometimes, even we become so engrossed in the concert, we end up exceeding the time. However, none of the artistes complain about this at all, and we do not charge extra for such cases – because, it’s all for good music in the end, right?”
For the listeners, it is an investment they’re ready to make to be closer to good music. “However much we may enjoy dancing and grooving at the massive stage concerts, it is the private listening sessions that we all enjoy more. And all the music lovers will agree with me when I say, jo mazza earphones mein sunne mein hai wo mazza bade speaker mein nahi hai. The same logic applies to stage concert vs private concerts discussion. We’d rather spend on the latter,” says Mohsin Khan, a 28-year-old mental health professional.
For others, it's the perfect way to add a magical touch to celebrations. “Such a gig makes the person feel this event was solely organised for you. It creates a lot of positive vibes, and I think we could all do with more of such vibes,” sums up Karan Joshi, a PR professional, who hosted a private concert recently.