Margazhi Festival

Money matters

Would an ‘all sabha’ ticket system work?

Would an ‘all sabha’ ticket system work?  


Did you know that there are concerts held at 5 a.m. during the Season? Yes, it’s true. For, the morning concert appeal seems to be widening.

For example, take the one held at The Music Academy, which has expanded so much. Or Narada Gana Sabha, which conducted an 8.30 a.m. Pallavi series.

With schedules getting crowded and a continued dearth of good halls, rasikas are willing to wake up early to queue up for these morning soirees. In fact, some artists reportedly prefer the morning slots (ostensibly in an effort to serve the morning audience). The idea of a morning concert may be a mixed blessing for a few artists. Besides lack of guaranteed audiences, vocalists often achieve better flexibility in their voice as the day wears on. Creativity and freshness of ideas could afford precedence to the morning endeavour. I am not sure if there is empirical evidence for one over the other, but the traffic police on TTK Road may be happier if morning concerts gather popularity.

The concept of ‘free concerts’ needs a review. There is a huge effort that goes into organising concerts and plenty of energy is invested by the artists to perform well and keep up or improve their rankings. There is both financial outlay and physical labour. Neither is compensated if the audience does not pay for the concerts. It is ironic that the only person who gains financially in free concerts is the man who runs the ‘commercial’ canteen. A typical food bill for one person in any of the canteens is Rs. 50 (or even more).

And to think that other forms of entertainment such as watching a film are so much more expensive now. It is time to scrap free concerts and price them at may be Rs. 25 at the least. The amount collected may not be significant, but it will start a healthy process where artists and organisers are rewarded for their labour and passion.

Hindustani concerts in the North seldom offer free gates. And, the artists there are better compensated for. The ticketing trend may also force rationalisation of sabhas and concerts with viability in mind. The danger of losing crowds is probably overstated and will only be transitional. The sabhas could also get together to set up an ‘all sabha’ ticket system (may be excluding the prime slots) – a la the all-route bus pass that MGR government offered in the 1970s – making it easier for a rasika, who does not have the hassle of buying a ticket and having to carry multiple tickets. Sponsors could bell the cat by insisting that programmes supported by them are ticketed.

Paid concerts seem to be of a new genre – where the musicians pay to perform. It used to be said of rookie dancers that their shows thrive on a self-financing model. That trend has apparently extended itself to music. It is as much the fault of the receivers as the payers. It does not bode well for upholding standard of quality, if such trends are allowed to flourish. How is it different from paid news that is largely condemned?

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 10:42:49 PM |

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