When Sriram Emani proposed the idea of a platform to promote Indian classical music online, he got an overwhelming response. IndianRaga, launched in 2012, has become the LinkedIn of the music world by creating networking options for musicians.

Breaking into the field of arts is not easy and no one knows this better than the many young musicians who wait for that one chance to showcase their talent before a large audience.

The portal IndianRaga hopes to make this process easier. Launched in November 2012, the project is about eight months old and has been described as the LinkedIn of the musical world.

But as co-Founder and CEO of IndianRaga, Sriram Emani, says there is more to IndianRaga than creating connections. “In the world of arts and entertainment, both content and medium are critical,” says Emani. “Young musicians today need opportunities to not only perform, but also become mature musicians and leaders.”

Fellowship opportunities

IndianRaga identifies promising musical talent and helps them connect with performance opportunities, mentors and resources to become professional performers. It serves to help musicians build an online space that can also serve as their portfolio and outreach page.

The portal was set up by Sriram Emani and Anasuya Mandal, a Ph.D student at MIT, when a conversation led them to discovering common interests about music. For Emani, an alumnus of IIT Bombay, understanding how technology could be used to promote the creative industry is a passion. “Look at the contrast between opportunities for engineers in India, and those for artists. I observed that while organisations in India spend significant budgets on marketing high profile concerts, there is very little done by both them and the media to promote younger artists,” says Emani.

IndianRaga recently won the coveted 2012 MIT IDEAS Global Challenge Community Choice Award and the US Creative Business Cup.

The IndianRaga Fellowship 2013 is a very interesting feature. The preliminary rounds are conducted online periodically with participants being asked to upload recordings of their renditions of ragas or taans, as required by the round. It culminates with the selection of the leading musicians who have demonstrated their skills and hold promise to be ambassadors of the art form in the future.

A key requirement is for musicians to demonstrate a strong passion for the art and the commitment to innovate and lead positive change in this space, as opposed to just pursuing it as a casual learner.

The selection panel consists of experts and professionals from the genre. The Fellowship involves classes with maestros Anindo Chatterjee, GS Rajan, Rama Vaidyanathan, and young innovators like Shankar Tucker.

There is also a workshop on social media for artists by renowned social media guru Sree Sreenivasan, co-founder of the South Asian Journalists Association.

This year, the fellows will also be involved in a music video project, where they will work in teams to create music and record videos with a professional videographer. “The goal of this project is to think about music as a complete experience, and allow the Fellows to have hands-on experience in collaborating with their peers to understand what new-age audiences would like to see,” says Emani.

The next Fellowship applications will start in November 2013. Those interested can write to fellowship@indianraga.in for more information.

“The IndianRaga Fellowship is a wonderful way to build relationships with each other that prove to be a very valuable resource,” says Aditya Shah, a student-musician at Dartmouth and coordinator of the Fellowship.

Varun Ganesan, from MIT and a semi-finalist in the Fellowship, agrees.

“Though the audience base for Indian classical music in North America is quite large, the population is so widespread that local talents are rarely represented locally. Hopefully, the portal can better unite Carnatic and Hindustani music community of America in the future,” he says.

Harsha Nagaran, a violinist and consistent performer both in India and the U.S. and currently a graduate student at Texas A&M, says, “Many talented Indian Classical musicians haven’t been able to make it into a full-time career either because the financial back-up in this career is unpredictable or due to the lack of right marketing skills on the musician’s part.” He hopes the portal will help resolve these issues.