We, the Carnatica Brothers K.N.Shashikiran & P.Ganesh, are South Indian Classical duo singers. We live in Chennai, but hop around the world for most part of the year, performing concerts, lecture demonstrations, conducting workshops and camps and teaching our students around the world! If you'd like to contact us for performances or if you'd just like to say hi, feel free to mail us at carnaticabrothersatgmaildotcom! :)
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Management Quota in Music

We’ve heard of management quota in colleges. But does it exist in the arts? Well, I hear that a sabha offered its inaugural day slot this year to a dancer for Rs. 30,000! And in Carnatic music? It's unofficial, but it’s real.

Heard of concerts being up for grabs to newcomers, mostly NRIs, for a price? That’s what the quota system in music is about. But before we greet both parties involved – the sabhas and the musicians – with scorn, let’s analyze why this practice is creeping into our system.

“Music is an essential ingredient in most public transactions, including art performances. However, all sides need to be careful not to let financial concerns overwhelm artistic sensitivities,” says Dr.Shankaran Mahadevan, musician, teacher, composer and organizer from the U.S.

To organize a concert for an artiste (popular artistes not considered), it costs between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 15,000, including the hall, electricity and accompanists’ fees. For sabhas with their own hall, the equations may work out just a bit lower.

Now, where does the organizer get his revenue from? First, sponsorship – which, in these recessionary times, is not easily forthcoming. Needless to say, getting sponsors for events featuring relatively unknown performers is difficult. “After 13 years, only this year we have managed to get sponsorship – from DFL,” says Mr. Sundar, secretary of Hamsadhwani, which organizes an annual NRI festival. Second, ticket sales - which is a paltry amount for many sabhas. “These artistes do not get much audience, except for their relatives! So how do we foot our bill?” asks the secretary of a relatively new sabha. “We depend on donations to even pay the popular artistes.”

Most organizers view the ‘quota system’ as a way of promoting good talent. While sabhas with good sponsors and better infrastructure have their own benchmarks for awarding concert opportunities, the smaller sabhas depend to a considerable extent on the NRIs.

The need of the hour though, is transparency. Several sabhas have managed to maintain a clean slate over the years, making all their transactions fully transparent. The Hamsadhwani NRI Festival, for instance, is in its 14th year. “NRIs looking for concert opportunities can become members of our sabha for a fee of Rs. 10,000. This entitles them to a performance any time during the next one year in our sabha,” says Mr. Sundar, Secretary of Hamsadhwani. “Besides, we pay them as well as we pay the local artistes.”

“We are happy to contribute to organizations that are working to promote the arts,” says a parent of an NRI artiste. “There are informal requests from organizers for support. We donate voluntarily.” Some parents view it as an investment in a career. It’s the best way to gain a foothold in the Chennai concert scene, they feel. “December is the best time of the year too, because we have holidays back in the U.S.,” says a young performer. In fact, some gurus themselves act as a link between sabhas and students seeking concert opportunities.

“But if the concert opportunity crassly descends into a business transaction, the performers are disheartened,” says Dr. Shankaran Mahadevan. “The incongruity of the quota system is especially strange in Carnatic music, where we sing compositions of saints like Tyagaraja, who shunned all worldly pursuits!”

All said and done, the sabhas are happy, so are the musicians. But, is it good for the system? Has it affected the quality of performances? Should it be encouraged? Should established musicians take upon themselves the task of identifying and promoting young talent? Can rasikas play an active role in supporting youngsters? Is getting more support from the government and the corporate (DLF, Shriram Group of Companies, et al have taken a step in this direction) a solution? These and several other questions remain.


Welcome to the Carnatica Brothers' blog!

Read our views on various music-related issues, get updates on our concert schedule and see our latest photos. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to listen to our music. Comment on the blog posts and keep in touch with us through our blog!

Concert Schedule

  • July 29th - Aug 26th (Mon-Fri) - Carnatic Summer Course (Middlesex Community College)
  • Aug 14th - Aug 16th - Chicago (Workshop for Akshaya)
  • Aug 27th - Sept 11th - Carnatic Summer Camp (Novi, Michigan)
  • Sept 12th - World Peace Concert (Detroit)
  • Sept 18th - Oct 13th - Europe tour (Details will be put up soon!)

Tracks from our albums

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Shashikiran's solo renditions & his musical score for the dance-drama 'Silappadikaram'

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Concert Recordings

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