Young musicians from Kolkata came together to form Independent Artist Association (IAA) during the pandemic to revive the growth of independent performers. The group of 11 members has been organising live concerts like Music On Air, Unplugged Music and Comic event, Whisper from the Abyss, and Children of Rock.
IAA was founded by a group of like-minded artistes. They aim to provide a platform to independent artists and bands and help them showcase their talents and generate regular income. From musicians of different genres to stand-up comedians, the group is a mixed band.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all independent musicians and artistes. As the lockdown began, there was a bar on crowds and live performances stopped, bringing their primary source of income to a still. We provide opportunities and platforms to every performing art. Initially, we were just 10 people but we have more than 20 independent acts associated with us,” said Bishal Kumar Thakur, the managing director of IAA.
The group began its journey during the pandemic and since then it has made consistent efforts to improve Kolkata’s performing arts scene. In April, they had organised their first metal event that received a huge response. The wave of COVID stopped live concerts but the group made a comeback with much stronger support in November by organising Children of Rock.
“We staged our first live event on March 21, 2021. Our motive was to generate a sustainable amount of revenue for the performing bands. We also wanted to do away with talent exploitation once and for all,” said Sritama Mandal, a second-year Master’s in Sociology student at University of Calcutta and a core committee member of IAA.
Ekla Cholo Re is the tagline of the movement. The campaign was run across Kolkata to promote live concerts. Gradually, the movement expanded and music lovers from across Bengal have also joined.
“We represent the emotions of independent artistes. Our motive is to create a proper music industry that is not dependent on promotional banners of films. We believe in the unification of the entire art community of India. That is why we had initiated the movement,” said Souradeep Bhattacharya, the 28-year-old operations head of IAA.
“IAA has started a movement that not only brings different genres under an umbrella but also promotes the concept of the paid gig which is essential for independent artists like us,” said Boidurjyo Chowdhury, a 22-year-old vocalist of Distorted Chromosomes, a Kolkata-based band.
IAA, a staunch supporter of live concerts, believes that independent artists can only make a name for themselves through live gigs.
The pandemic had left everyone confined to their homes and live concerts served as a meeting place for artistes, IAA members and, of course, the audience.
“This pandemic has made people come up with the best alternatives to cope with their shortcomings. And now digital entertainment is booming. Artists struggle to create digital content to entertain the crowd virtually,” Souradeep said.
IAA relies heavily on concert tickets for revenue and merchandise sales. “We generate revenue mostly by selling passes. Also, we had our partners who donated to the concerts. Lastly, we sold merchandise which also added to the revenue generation for the performing artists,” said Bishal Kumar Thakur, a 25-year-old accounts graduate.
Artistes can register on the website (www.iaa.org.in) for free irrespective of their genre and style of art. IAA is gearing up for its next event, Mockery: The Statement, hip-hop, rap and B-boying concert in December.