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Corporate crooning comes of age
Abhilasha Ojha
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May 28, 2005

This Saturday a sizeable number of corporates will let their hair down in Bangalore. A Wipro [Get Quote] software consultant will give temporary rest to his technical bent of mind, while a Hewlitt Packard employee will wrap up her daily work quickly before she dashes out to allow nearly 4,000 people to witness her creative talent.

A multimedia consultant of Tata Consultancy Services [Get Quote] will forget about banging on the computer keyboard and instead will let his fingers gently strum a guitar.

On Saturday and Sunday, the tech-city of Bangalore is all set to look and feel different. All roads will lead to St John's auditorium where six bands from leading MNCs and corporate offices will witness a high-decibel drama as they come to sizzle, to make music and to put it simply, rock. The event is called TouchBass, a unique fest organised for the purpose to encourage creative talent in the corporate circuits.

For those of us who thought employees of corporate houses lead boring and stressful lives with little or no fun, here's a spoiler.

Increasingly, a number of employees from different corporate companies have formed their own in-house corporate music bands that are not just helping them unwind during their off-hours but also giving them their fair share of 15 minutes of fame.

Companies like ICICI [Get Quote], Infosys [Get Quote], Accenture, NIIT [Get Quote], Convergys and BHCL, to name just a few, have some like-minded employees who have decided to come together and formed their in-house music bands.

But what happens to these bands? Do they only practise after office hours late at night and get back to their work the next day? Do they simply perform in front of a few employees and treat it as a mere hobby? Is it just a stress-buster? Not quite. Thanks to 32-year-old Chris Avinash, a marketing executive with BPL who quit his job to pursue his creative motives, other corporate music bands today have a platform to showcase their talents.

"I formed a band called Document Done in BPL. The band consisted of people who had to earn a living but at the same time couldn't let go of their interest completely," says Avinash.

Fed up of the cycle of working round-the-clock, Avinash decided to finally call it quits and invested all his earnings and energy into organising a fest specifically for "tapping raw, creative talent of corporate employees."

The first fest was organised five years ago with the total savings of Rs 90,000 that Avinash doled out from his "already tattered pockets". This year, he has roped in six sponsors, "that believed in my ridiculously adventurous venture" including World Space Radio, Excalibur, Coca Cola, LG Electronics, Tata Indicom and Apple.

In fact, it is for the very first time that Apple has sponsored any event in India. The budget too has gone up substantially and this time nearly Rs 400,000 has been invested in the fest.

Anil Kakde, a software consultant with Wipro formed Trad Scabrous (loosely translated as traditionally rough) five years ago and is a regular fixture with TouchBass. He says, "The best part is that the fest is not a competition of different bands. It focuses on performance."

Avinash adds, "These poor corporate types are competing all the time. Their entire professional lives revolve around intense competition. My effort has only been to create a platform for creative minds to come together, unwind and perform with their hearts."

However, Anil admits that the competitive streak does tend to reach the stage anyway. "People love to see whether we can excel and surpass TCS guys," he says with a grin. Not willing to let it remain a hobby, Anil has already invested in music equipment worth Rs 200,000 and has created a home sound-studio too.

"We recently created demo tracks for three of our songs and plan to approach companies for the same." Moreover, his band performs professionally in some of the pubs in Bangalore.

But with the working hours of corporates being so erratic how does he find the time to sustain his musical leanings? "It's not easy, I think by now I must be in the bad books of my seniors too," he smirks, adding, "We usually practice after our work-hours." The band members have a permanent space in office where they practise and house their equipment too.

"Our marathon rehearsals take place during weekends and it's only with time that we've realised that it's much more than just a stress-buster. We have a lot of passion that is helping us sustain this band despite the constant fall-out in the line up that we face due to people moving out of organisations."

Predictably, Avinash's TouchBass fest has paved the way for other corporates to organise similar events. A 'corporate carnival' was sponsored by Seagrams Royal Stag last year, which saw nearly 15 bands from corporate companies participating in song and dance competitions.

Sachin Mutreja, CEO, Rams event relationships management company that organised the corporate carnival last year confirms, "The response to these creative events has been phenomenal. Beginning September this year, we plan to organise similar events in Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Gurgaon besides Kolkata which is still to be finalised."

Why has the trend of these in-house music bands picked up in recent times?

"Professionals working in corporate offices are getting younger and younger. They don't want to let go of their interests and wish to sustain it for as long as possible. Which is why like-minded people come together to form in-house bands," explains Avinash, who also organises other fests like Rockorama, for professional and semi-professional bands, Fest Underground and U-rock, a festival of rock shows for college students.

And doesn't he feel he has lost out on all the moolah that he could've easily earned if he'd continued to work? "My juniors have made penthouses but it doesn't bother me. At the end of the day I did what I wanted to do. I'm satisfied."

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