A self-confessed problem solver, Arjun Sagar Gupta is the owner of Delhi’s premier Jazz bar, The Piano Man Jazz Club.
An engineer by education, a musician by passion, a restaurateur by profession and a permanent student of life; he is as charming as he is candid. Driven by a strong ideology, he believes in the 4 essential pillars: Respect, Art, Love and Logic & Science. Here’s Arjun Sagar Gupta in discussion with FNL about how The Piano Man Jazz Club happened, the emerging and evolving music scenario in Delhi, everday pressures of being in the F&B Industry, his love for Fun Flips and much more.
Q. How did you come up with the idea of opening The Piano Man Jazz Club?
I had already spent 3 years running two small cafes under the banner, “The Piano Man”. While my learning from these cafes was immense, I saw a gap in the space of music delivery for audiences. There are many venues out there that program music, but nothing for the music lovers and musicians themselves. All the venues looked at music as a revenue driver. I look at music as art and that’s how and why I opened The Piano Man Jazz Club.
Q. Do you think that the Jazz scene in Delhi has evolved since The Piano Man Jazz Club first opened and why?
I do feel that we’ve had an impact on the jazz and live music scenes in the course of our existence. There has been a very measurable uptick in the demand for jazz bands in the last 30 months since we’ve been active. This is across the board (clubs, private parties, corporate parties etc.) demand is great, it creates a supply to balance the market and the profession becomes more viable as there are more opportunities. As the scene grows, exposure increases and bar for acceptable standards and knowledge keeps increasing. It’s a win-win for everyone, as long as people remember to stay ethical!
Another important aspect of the scene is ethics and professionalism, we’ve been very particular to ensure that artists are treated with due respect and their basic and professional needs are well taken care of. Once enough venues strive for professionalism, the scene evolves and filters out the people who treat artists disrespectfully and unprofessionally. This shift is in process and will take a while, but what emerges from this change will be beautiful.
Finally, one important aspect that I feel almost all venues get wrong is that they expect the band to bring in the audience. That is the job of a promoter, and unless the venue pays the artists to be the promoter, it’s the venue’s job to get the audience in, and people need to realise that. I’ve seen artists mistreated so much because “they didn’t fill the venue”, well, pay your marketing team to do their job!
Q. Tell us about the concept of ‘Silent Song’ at your club.
The Silent Song was born in a moment of frustration and helplessness and eventually became one of the most beautiful parts of each and every night. It is a song, that we ask the band to select before the show, in which we close the bar and stop service in the club and appeal to the audience to celebrate the musicians, by diverting a 100% of their focus to the stage. No conversation, no movement, no distractions, just music.
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