BY AYSHWARYA SHARMA
Brand Strategy Associate, Leo Burnett India & Director, Instrupad
“So, you guys aren’t a physical studio space for artistes?” asked a reporter from a popular daily as I explained to him what Instrupad was.
No,” I responded.
“Okay, so let me check with my editor if we can still cover you. Hold on.”
There was just a nervous crackle on the phone. I was hoping I didn’t blow our first press cover.
“He says it’s okay. But we wanted some images to go with the article. We were excited to showcase a jam room of sorts. Can we arrange a photoshoot for you guys at your office space?”
“Honestly, all our work is online. And we’re too small, so we work out of home.”
“So...I mean, what do we show?” he sounded highly perplexed.
“How about just us... at Eddies or someplace?
That’s generally where we meet to discuss work.”
And so, our first official team picture was shot. I would be poetic and say “It wasn’t very long ago,” but it’s true. The two boys encouraged me (all of us MICAns) to explore my love for music. Pranoy encouraged me to apply for the music committee on campus, where I met Dhananjai. The latter was curious, full of ideas and open to people building on them - www.instrupad.com, was born out of one such discussion in 2014.
The Indie music scene was barely seeing anymore headlining acts. Musicians were dropping out and were resortingto leave their skills as just a hobby. They needed avenues to upscale and thereby monetize their skillset. Finding popularity on YouTube and attaining gigs were still like pipe dreams for them. In a world where there was LinkedIn for professionals looking for jobs and Behance for designers to showcase their work, there wasn’t one specifically for instrumentalists and off-beat musicians. How could we democratize this industry making it accessible for all? Our solution wasn’t so simple. It had to be an all-in-one platform for instrumentalists to showcase their art form, invest in growing their skills and create accessibility to purchasing instruments.
Though we had the idea, we needed a proof of concept, to build awareness and need within the community. So, we contacted our friends and musicians, asking them if we could feature them through Instrupad. We created content that could explain what the platform was meant to do.
Soon, we had built a content format for different instruments to be featured on our Facebook page. The first being ‘Drummer’s Play’, where we got introduced to a 9-year-old prodigy, Raghav Mehrotra, who’d worked with the orchestra of Andrew Lloyd Webber. The ‘Bass Play’ saw bass veterans like Jayen Varma and Shalini Mohan. Our first sitar feature saw Ronobir Lahiri (a student of Pt. Deepak Choudhary) playing.
Seeing such talents encourage and help build the community is still extremely overwhelming. In fact, Fidel D’Souza (of Parvaaz fame) says he’s inspired to document more of his playing techniques as play-throughs, something which we personally have been suggesting that all practising musicians should do.
Running on steam and funds, mostly from family and friends, the platform is still boot-strapped, with the team pooling in individual expertise and time. However, that doesn’t stop us. There’s constant reassurance in Instrupad which comes from the fact that musicians from all across India - from the big city Indie hotspots like Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and New Delhi, to smaller towns like Jabalpur, Jhansi and Hazaribag – are all sending us beautiful instrument play-throughs that they create. Organically, #instrupad has become a tag on Instagram where musicians engage with their unique play-throughs.
From the one long hostel brainstorm to now, I think it’s safe to say ‘Instrupad is now open’ at http://instrupad.com.