Musical traditions from multiple regions in India are at an inflexion point not only in India but even globally: Arnab Roy, VP - marketing Coca-Cola India, and Southwest Asia

Musical traditions of Bharat.

Mumbai: After the overwhelming success of Coke Studio globally, Coca-Cola announced the launch of Coke Studio Bharat in Mumbai yesterday. The season is an amalgamation of over 50 artists from across the country who have come together to create over 10 memorable tracks celebrating the roots of Bharat.

Coke Studio Bharat: ‘Apna Sunao’ is humbled to be a conduit to give these talented artists’ unique voices a stage to tell the story of Bharat that is rooted in culture yet embraces the music of today. The platform will host music that pays homage to the various parts of India that artists call home, connecting with stories that are rich in history, with diverse languages, and using varied musical instruments to create magical melodies set to enthral.

Today, Indian artists are telling their stories proudly, in voices that are not only authentic and truly regional but also loved by fans worldwide. ‘Apna Sunao’ celebrates exactly this spirit of new India and is built on this original and independent freedom of expression.

On the newly refurbished avatar of Coke Studio Bharat

We started Coke Studio with MTV in 2011, it did pretty well, it was the decision of the management team then to discontinue the show. Interestingly, I along with Sumeli had started Coke Studio then, when I came back to India in 2021, Sumeli was back in Coke. One of the first things we decided was that Coke Studio needs to come back for the Indian audiences.

Other than personal reasons the whole fact is, music for me is essential to the culture wherever you go and Coca-Cola is a brand which is everywhere, it has to connect authentically, and this cannot be done as a 30-sec commercial. That era is passé, the brand has to be authentic, and deeply rooted in the culture, and I feel that we have to be in touch with the reality of the youth in this country right now.

When we got into the planning stage of Coke Studio, we ticked all the boxes. The Indian music industry is undergoing a revolution, gen Z is driving the change and a lot of regional music is in play. Today, the youth seek authenticity, greater freedom of expression and openness to immerse themselves into different music forms that are unique, diverse, yet meaningful.

This has happened because digital has unlocked and will continue to unlock amazing music from across India. We didn’t know the extent of this kind of music; we got exposed to this genre when we spoke to Ankur and Devraj who are on the ground and in the industry. The amount of new artists coming from small towns in UP is unbelievable and you need to hear them, it’s surreal.

This season of Coke Studio is curated by the acclaimed, award-winning musician and sought-after songwriter, Ankur Tewari. Breathing magic into ‘Apna Sunao’, Ankur has onboarded a think tank comprising critically acclaimed poet, lyricist and scriptwriter Kausar Munir along with award-winning sound engineer and music producer KJ Singh. Together they have handpicked regional gems to give their sound a new voice.

In the planning stage, we had not decided on ‘Bharat’; but as we moved along we decided to call it ‘Coke Studio: Bharat’ and we then felt it was a fantastic opportunity by allowing all these artists to be on this platform. Hopefully, this platform is going to unearth more talent and I am hopeful that if this catches on and becomes popular, it will see many seasons without a pause.

On India and Bharat, how is music bridging the gap?

This whole dichotomy is in our mind as to how we want to define what India is and what is Bharat, everyone has a different opinion on this. Let me talk about Bharat, it is an interesting topic, there are so many different stories on how Bharat came to be and if one wants an honest geographical answer it is India outside Mumbai and Delhi. It can be Ludhiana or Amritsar or any small town in UP. As a brand, we are everywhere from metros to small hamlets. As we started to discover we saw that these young people are not coming from big cities but small towns and this is the future of India.

The cultural heritage of this country for the next 15 years is going to be driven by a Bharat which we have never seen. A young person from Ludhiana is not shy, he is confident and we are in a country today where these people are coming out on stage supremely confident that they will win in India and globally. I think that is unbelievable and there is so much potential that can be unlocked in this country today.

On the choice of the platform and Marketing

It is going to be digital-first and India is the world’s largest market for YouTube music in the last three years have been the point of infliction and also seen the exponential jump in digital platforms, it has been a fantastic journey and with the power of digital you have a bigger audience and it is scalable, shareable and at a speed that we have never seen before. At the end of the day, the music has to be good and authentic as it is the core product.

Musical traditions from multiple regions in India are at an inflexion point not only in India but even globally. Coke Studio Bharat connects the truly distinct cultural dots of various regions in the country with artists whose music is defined by their roots. They are the real stars of the season, giving regional music a bigger impetus.

The way we have worked on it I can do all the marketing but if the end product i.e. music is not good no amount of marketing will work. So when we started my brief to my team as we are not music experts, our job is to support Ankur in every which way and in a very authentic way as a brand to support this endeavour. The audiences are going to see very different production values as it is going to be more authentic and embracing Indian culture this time around.

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