Alive and kicking

Heena Khan | Updated on May 30, 2012

A Metallica performance at Bangalore last year. - K. BHAGYAPRAKASH


India is developing a big appetite for live entertainment. With affluence on the rise, Indians have begun to explore and experiment with their choice of leisure activities.

Movies, the first option for most Indians, continue to rule steady. But plays, concerts, and stand-up comedy have now become the flavour of the moment.

According to a KPMG report, the number of live events in the country has increased nearly 15-20 times between 2004 and 2011. “While in 2004, India had approximately 300-400 live events, the number increased to 6,000-7,000 in 2011,” the report says.

Sanjay Roy, Teamwork Productions, says, “Live entertainment in India has always existed, whether in the kothas of Lucknow or the courts of maharajas. But in recent times there has been a spurt in activity mostly owing to rising disposable income and democratisation of art.”

Interestingly, while the TRPs (television rating points, a viewership measure) of IPL 5 dipped considerably from 4.81 in the first season to 3.27 (average of 68 matches), cricket stadiums were choc-a-bloc with fans.

Accessibility has been the game-changer. From depending on patronage, entertainment shows have shifted towards ticket sales as a key funding source - which also means one no longer has to be a member of the ruling elite to be invited to someone's court. “Anyone can buy a ticket and enjoy the show,” Roy says.

Surprisingly, despite the spurt in art activities, ticket prices have not risen. “No art programme can take place without a substantial sponsorship. This only goes to show that ticket prices are substantially subsidised,” Roy adds.

The entertainment taxes on ticket prices are around 25-33 per cent across India. This is a deterrent for most players to increase prices. “But this industry has soared despite the regulatory obstacles,” he says.

The Internet has made people familiar with international music and artists. Many international artists made their India debut, including pop artist Lady Gaga at the Formula One race last October.

According to the KPMG report, the average ticket price for a live concert now is in the range of Rs 2,000-2,500. While the concert tickets of Indian artists such as A.R. Rahman are sold anywhere between Rs 1,000 and 2,000 for a ticket, the tickets for international rock bands such as Metallica were sold at Rs 2,750 for a ticket and Bryan Adams as high as Rs 4,000 for a ticket.

Santosh Desai, Managing Director & CEO, Future Brands, says “The hallmark of a leisure society is that it sees time as a currency. Since you attach value to time, your cost of spending that time goes up. Engaging with live concerts is in some way identifying who you are. In our society the leisure component is evolving towards packaged experiences. And engagement with live experience is only going to increase.”

Online ticketing

Karan Arora, Head of Operations, Bookmyshow, Delhi Branch, says, “In Delhi region alone the number of events have gone up by 5-6 times in last four years.”

The ease of locating events and online ticketing has obviously helped the cause. Bookmyshow, the online ticketing partner for such events, has so far partnered with 100 live events last year and 30-40, till date in 2012. Now India Inc is also realising the growing trend of live entertainment options. Liquor brand Kingfisher has been hosting a series of live entertainment events as part of its ‘experiential marketing' exercise.

The KFBeerUp is a Twitter-led on-ground initiative by Kingfisher where Kingfisher fans congregate to enjoy band performance, stand-up comedy, beer games and live tweeting with unlimited Kingfisher beverages and food. The current edition of the campaign will cover six cities.

Ditto with Heineken. The beer brand is all set to introduce Heineken Green Room in India. A series of exclusive, invite-only events, Heineken Green Room will showcase international dance music artists. The brand has been involved with music events across the world, right from Coachella and Ultra Music festivals in the US, Rock in Rio in Brazil, the Open'er Festival in Poland, Balaton Sound in Hungary, to the Sandance Festival in Dubai.

Published on May 30, 2012

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