Selling 'Season December'
CHENNAI, December 4: December has come. As the clouds dart all around the sky, plenty of thoughts cross the mind of a music lover. Will I make it to the venue in time. Or, will the rains cut short my evening plan? A sense of anxiety and a feeling of excitement are palpable all around the city of Chennai, as it gets set for a scintilating show of music to bring the curtain down for this year.
December is very special for the people of Chennai, in general, and music lovers, in particular. After all, December brings everybody - from starters to stars - into the Mecca of Carnatic music. They all make a beeline for Chennai to showcase their hard-learnt talent to a very discerning audience. December is also a season for all music lovers to converge towards Chennai to listen to the their favourite musicians and also to hear some of the best of music. For many a musician and rasika, December is the place to be nowhere but in Chennai. The December attraction towards Chennai makes one to sit up and ponder genuinely. Why can't `Season December' be packaged and marketed as `Destination Chennai' project.
According to a rough estimate, over 1,000 concerts are held during the season - which comprises the whole of December and a small portion of January (considered the month of Marghazi, according to the Tamil calander). The city has close to two- dozen established sabhas (organisations which run music concerts), any number of `neighbourhood sabhas' (specific to locations) and concert-running trusts (mostly to sustain the memory of musicians of yester-year). A good performance during December season in Chennai is considered a necessary `passport' for many to get an overseas inviation to go global and earn better. Not surprisingly, artistes of all hues jostle for a slot during the December season in Chennai. With the mushrooming sabhas, getting a stage has become less difficult these days for any artiste. Getting the right time slot, however, is indeed a tough proposition. The sabhas, too, face a tough task in alloting prime time slots to artistes. The prime slot concerts in major sabhas are usually ticketed. Many top artistes invariably run full houses in select prestigious sabhas. To use a management metaphor, even the audience has started showing brand preference. Not surprisingly, artistes such as T.M. Krishna, Sanjay, Bombay Jayashri, Sudha Ragunathan, Nityashree, Aruna Sairam, K.J. Yesudas and the like draw huge crowd. So much so, we see people even pay to watch their concerts in LCD TVs (installed outside the auditorium)! This is a very new trend in December season. The `prime-time' concerts usually cross-subsidise the morning and afternoon concerts.
Of late, corporates, too, come in to sponsor the season's concerts. Many well known local outfits such as Sundaram Finance, Shriram Group, Nallis, RmKv and the like are regular patrons of the Marghazi concerts. Local head-quartered banks such as Indian Bank and IOB have also been supporting the cause of December music for long. Of late, we are seeing more corporates from across the country and even newer entities beginning to sponsor the December concerts. No doubt, they may be getting into Carnatic music sponsorship as a part of their corporate social responsibility activity. Yet, they may also be trying to garner the `mind share' of music lovers by doing so. The fact of the matter, however, is that Corporate India has begun to take a keen interest in Carnatic music, in general, and December season, in particular. The city of Chennai has also been witness, during the past few years, to pre-December season concerts. Many media houses have now become sponsors of music events. Led by The Hindu, media outfits such as Times of India, Jaya TV and Raj TV have all become big sponsors of music. It is time the Government of Tamil Nadu, too, wakes up and see the December music season as a way to showcased to the world at large the city's cultural heritage. It is time December Season is converted into a `Destination Chennai in December' project.