All the right notes

May 17, 2013 , by Supriya Rai, Leave your thoughts
All the right notes » My Dreams Mag
The affable vocalist of COD, Bidhan Pradhan charts his meteoric rise from a wannabe singer to the CEO of his own record company Superstar Entertainment.

It started with a rejection.

In 2010, the newly reformed band COD could not find any record labels willing to take them on. Faced with the possibility that their aspirations of becoming recording artists may never materialise, entrant band member Bidhan Pradhan devised a way out of their predicament – founding his own recording label, Superstar Entertainment.

The motive was simple: all that the aspirants wanted to do was to get their music to the masses. Road to Stardom was to be their first ever foray into album production. It was a tumultuous start, no doubt. Actualisation of the project proved a mammoth challenge.

“I was a newcomer. I had very little know-how about how the industry worked and I had only a few contacts. What’s more I had no support at all from my friends and family.”

Financing the project seemed an insurmountable task: a separate challenge in itself. On top of that, the industry insiders seemed very pessimistic about a young guy starting a record label from ground up. ‘Zero support’ is the term the artist uses. Despite  everything, they pushed on ahead.

Pradhan recalls that the music bit came easy; it was the commerce behind it that proved a steep learning curve. Fortunately the hard work paid off. The album was well-received by listeners and with that, the circumstantial undertaking, Superstar Entertainment, came onto its own.

“The album was successful in its own right. But more importantly it also provided a lot of mileage to the company.”

Three years on, the graph of the little record label set up by a young kid has shot through the roof. Among other popular artists, Superstar Entertainment’s roster of talent lists artists like COD, Arluv Gurung, Fuba Tamang, Viber Bi, and Bullet Flo. With their back-to-back hits, the label has turned out to become one of the most consistent and dependable studios. Apart from their original songs, frequent ventures into collaborations with new artists like James Shrestha, Suzie Q, and Binayak Thapa have also hit the right spot with the masses.

The hit-makers have dropped chart-toppers like ‘Raat-Vaari’, ‘Mitho Sapana’, ‘K Garu’, ‘Baby I’, ‘Bujhideuna’, ‘Chitra’ and ‘Satayera’ among others. As of today their videos have cumulatively over two million hits on Youtube and the label’s Facebook page has over 14,000 fans.

There are more exciting projects in the pipeline, Bidhan enthusiastically shares. There is a promising line-up of talented rookies under Superstar’s wings, who are ripe and ready to burst on to the music scene.  He believes new artists like Infamous, Def-Mind, and Mac, he hopes, will be household names in the coming days.

It would be an understatement to say that Superstar Entertainment has created a niche for itself. With majority of artists signed under them subscribing to the pop and hip-hop genre, they have a legion of dedicated fans- mostly young and urban. “We are young. Our music is young.”

It is no wonder then that most of the young ‘wannabe’ artists interested in joining them are also young pop singers. One look at their Facebook wall substantiates the kind of frenzy they create. It is hard to determine therefore, whether it is more surprising or refreshing when one learns how approachable and simple the process of getting into the label really is. There are no smokescreens, no dodgy business, no tricky contracts involved. Purely old-school style, all one needs to do is record a demo tape and send it to the office. If the CEO likes it, he signs you up.

“I understand what it is like to chase that dream. I respect that drive,” says the artist thoughtfully.

The labels interests, he insists, are always with the artists. He was once quoted in an interview saying that one of the main motives behind setting up the label was to ensure that the new wave of artists wouldn’t have to go through what he did to break into the industry.

Of course, he adds, realistically this ideology must marry with business sense.

“It’s all about the product,” admits the entrepreneur, “If their music is good and they are sellable, then I am interested: irrespective of the style, background, genre, or gender.”

In fact this attitude extends to how he deals with his established artists as well. Any artist is only as good as the “product” they are selling and it is the label’s responsibility to convince their audience that their music is worth listening to, he asserts.

“If it’s your product you have to sell it. You’ve got to sell it.”

The Nepali music scene is a tough one – Nepali artists hardly reap any benefits from album sales or endorsements, nor do they enjoy the culture of fervent fandom garnered by international artists. Not only is there a critical lack of infrastructures and investment into the music industry, even the geography of the country acts as a setback.

Bidhan explains, “We can only perform in limited cities around the country- Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Dharan. After that the probable possibilities seem to kind of peter out.”

That is why the mogul welcomes competition. He believes that collective efforts are crucial for transforming the landscape of the Nepali music scene. Currently the revenue trickles in through CRBTs, appearances, endorsements, and overseas concerts. In the days ahead, the savvy businessman wants to delve further into commercializing the music industry. He sees a possible extension into merchandising and branding with Superstar Ent.

“I can’t tell you what worked for us. There is no one thing that we did right or one strategy that we perfected. We never anticipated the level of success we have had. In the end, if I think about it, it all just boiled down to the music.”

Going forward, there seems to be no way but up for this driven personality. When it comes to getting it right, Superstar Ent. is hitting all the right notes. 

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