Jazz and Arjun, The Piano Man! A treat for music lovers

Arjun Gupta took up a challenge and a bit of a gamble nine years back opening a jazz music bar in New Delhi, which one could argue was not the most popular genre of music in the city. Today, his brand is well known, prospering with three venues across NCR and boasts of being a leading venue for collaborations and performances from prominent names across the music industry.

So, what inspired him and got him to take that leap? Revealing his entrepreneurial outlook he shares, “because it was not a popular genre of music also means that there’s opportunity. I love jazz. I’ve been performing for over two decades. And I wanted to create a community for jazz lovers. I didn’t know how far we would go. I didn’t know what the scope or opportunity could result in. All I wanted to do was create a beautiful space where we could enjoy some great music. Today, we have people all the way from 12 years old till 80 years coming in on a daily basis. You have people of all ethnicities, all socio-economic classes, all backgrounds. And that’s the beauty of it. You want it to be for everybody. You want music to be accessible to everybody”.

The fact that Delhi was perhaps not well versed in jazz could be looked at both as a good thing and as a bad thing. “It’s a bad thing in the sense that a lot of effort has to be made in creating awareness. But the good thing is that there’s a lot of opportunity to create awareness. We can somewhat dictate how to introduce people to jazz in our spaces”.

Today, The Piano Man has an impressive choice of venues and both Saket and Gurgaon have a large seating capacity. The challenge of course is also to attract new audiences and diversify the offering as well. The basic proposition that The Piano Man began with was mostly jazz every day, with some blues, pop, R&B and soul.

Arjun shares the idea originally was “just come and experience it and you make a subjective decision on whether you like the music or not. We are not here to tell you the music is good or bad. And we are here to say, here is an opportunity to listen to something new and make a subjective decision yourself. I strongly believe that just the availability of exposure for audiences to experience something will automatically start creating an audience for it. Some people will come in and say, okay, maybe this is not for me. But then some people will come in and say, holy cow, what is that? That sounds beautiful. I want more of that”.

At any of his venues, there is unmistakable sense of design and individual character as belonging to The Piano Man. There is the additional sense of grandeur, as you walk in, you definitely hold back and take a minute to soak in the vibe and atmosphere at the two larger venues, in Saket and Gurugram.

Arjun elaborates on how he created an atmosphere that will make the audience appreciate the music a bit more. “From day one, I believe that it has to be holistic, even architecturally. Your visual and the environment has to be conducive. A lot of factors come into play starting from architecture, the materials you choose to create the space, in the acoustic properties and the visual properties and the textural properties, the sound system and the presentation of the band. We internally have something called an ‘artist first philosophy’. We have a couple of processes in place which essentially boil down to the artist being a priority for the team over the customer. The understanding is that if the artist is happy, then when the artist gets on stage, what they’ll create is truly magic. And that energy will bleed to the audience”.

In an effort to get the audience to truly hear the music and also show respect for the talent on stage, Arjun also introduced the concept of maintaining silence while the performance was on. However, with time this concept was relaxed to make it more conducive for service and overall revelry. “But being extremely strict about conversation in a place which is not actually a concert hall is also counterintuitive because people are like – hey man, we want to enjoy music our way. And if you’re so sort of overbearingly particular about it, it ruins the experience as well. Though in the beginning that overcorrection was necessary. Largely what’s happening now is a lot of moderation of conversations and noise happen internally within the audience because the expectation of the bar was set”.

Today he still continues the ‘silent song’, “which is an experiential part of the evening where we shut down the bar, we stop service and we say now at least for one song, let’s run like a concert hall and just see what the impact is. And then you’ll find most evenings post the silent song, it’s a different audience. Then you feel that emotional; you feel the music a lot more”.

He also now faces the challenge of staying true to his first love of jazz and also getting in new audiences for his larger venues. “So, with three properties now, we are not focusing only on jazz. Jazz remains our prime focus but for the first time now, we are venturing into pretty much everything. Especially with the new property in Saket, because the capacity is also massive. Like we can accommodate several hundred people in the new place. It is also allowing us to invite artists now with more fame.  We’ve got Sonam Kalra performing this Saturday. We have Advaita performing next Saturday. We also have Parikrama performing in April as well. ‘Them Clones’, an Indian rock band, was a big victory. We got them back on stage after seven years”.

Arjun himself, deeply passionate about music, is also very much involved in nurturing and scouting for new talent. He runs a jam session. “I’ve been doing this for nine years now. From day one. Every Sunday, which is where a lot of young musicians want to get into jazz, come and I run the jam session personally. So, I’ll work with them till wherever I can, I’ll guide them. And after that these kids actually take off! They are pretty amazing. Some of these kids are absolutely phenomenal. So that’s one vertical of it. And then we also have artists reaching out to us; oftentimes, we say – hey, you’re not ready for stage yet. And many of them will come back to us and say, you know, would you tell us why. And then we open up a dialogue saying I am not interacting with you as a venue owner – I am interacting with you as a professional musician, and here is my feedback on what you can work on.

To know more on upcoming events and to book your tickets log on to www.thepianoman.in. So, while you enjoy your music there is plenty of food and drinks on the menu to keep the taste buds happy as well!

Today, The Piano Man has an impressive choice of venues and both Saket and Gurgaon have a large seating capacity. The challenge of course is also to attract new audiences and diversify the offering as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *