Interview with Radhakrishnan Nair, Editor of Rolling Stone India

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Radhakrishnan Nair
Radhakrishnan Nair

Why does India need Rolling Stone magazine?
Because India has a thriving local music scene outside of Bollywood and classical music. Rock & Roll and its offshoots like metal and EDM [electronic dance music] are among the fastest growing music genres in the country. Rolling Stone India and Rolling Stone India.com provide the much needed platform for their stories to be heard across the country. And equally important the magazine has over the last six years provided a platform for Indian bands and musicians who rarely get their voice heard in the traditional media.

Is it difficult for alternative music bands to get coverage on mainstream television and radio, given the power of Bollywood music, and is this changing?
In a country where Bollywood dominates much of the culture space, rock music does not get much of air time on radio or on television. Against this scenario Rolling Stone India provides an important platform for local musicians to make their presence felt.

Is it difficult to attract advertising revenue to your magazine for the reasons stated in question two?
Yes, it is difficult to attract advertising revenue for a music magazine that does not cover Bollywood music. That is the reason why most music magazines that came before us have folded up.

Are venues in India willing to be experimental with their music programming?
One of the reasons for the increasing popularity of rock music is the proliferation of live music venues across the country. Despite numerous local government restrictions, the venues have been doing a great job in promoting local talent. This has, for the first time, also helped rock musicians make a living out of their music, unlike in the past when even the so called professional musicians held regular jobs to subsidise their hobby.

Is it right to say India has a growing influence in global electronic music (e.g. DJs)?
In some ways, yes: EDM is the only genre where India is on the international music circuit. The country is an essential stop on the worldwide tour programme of most global DJs. This has been helped along by the increasing number of EDM festivals across the country and the huge audience they attract.

Cover as Art initiative

What was the thinking behind the Cover as Art initiative and has it been a success?
Rolling Stone has always been at the forefront of cutting edge photography, design and other visual arts. And creating a cover for Rolling Stone is the dream of many an art director. The Cover as Art project taps into this aspiration of graphic designers and illustrators around India, giving them the opportunity to create their own Rolling Stone cover, where the only restriction is that the theme should be Indian and it should be based on music. The project which is in its sixth year now has been a fantastic success.

Interview by Hamant Verma

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