Updated: May 23
We are a community of people in every profession and sector using music to create more value in towns and cities all over the world. In the special series ‘In Conversation With’, we talk to accomplished members of our Music Cities Community and uncover their journey. This story features Prarthana Sen, an Operations & Community Specialist in Live Music Events from Bengaluru, India.
Profile at a Glance
Full Name: Prarthana Sen
City, Country: Bengaluru, India
Work Profile/Designation: Community Operations specialist
Current Company: a.live
Previous Notable Work: Sofar Sounds- Scaled the global community to 300+ active curators organising events in as many cities over the span of 18 months, built recruitment, training and operations guides for the global curator community
Current favourite artist from your city: Just one? It would have to be Huyana
An initiative that boosts the music economy/ contributes to the development of music in your city:Indian Music Experience
How did you first start working in the music business? (We would love to hear more about your early years in the Biz!)
I've been learning music since I was 5 and always cutting classes to sing for some competition or fest - so I always knew I wanted to work in and around music. After graduating with an MA in Music and Management from the University of Leeds in 2015, I started job hunting in earnest and began my career as a marketing and A&R coordinator at Banyan Tree Events. While the team and work there was good and gave me a kickstart to a great network for my career, I could not adjust to life in Mumbai and moved back to Bangalore soon after. This gave me the freedom to focus on my volunteering role with Sofar Sounds (more on that later) and work at MELA as a vocal instructor for a brief stint, and I found a passion for mentoring my students beyond just the vocal lessons at this time. This was also the time when I was performing a lot in Bangalore as part of a few bands and overall very fulfilling to dip my toes into the world of performance and education.
Was there a major turning point in your career?
There wasn't one single point, but rather a series of things between 2015-16 that really cemented my interest and passion in developing communities. Setting up Sofar Bangalore as a standalone gig series with zero funding and event expenses running only through crowdfunding (backed by a wonderful team of course) was the start of it, but the passion and excitement I felt when I talked about it clearly translated beyond just that and soon enough I was able to mentor and help friends and acquaintances in other Indian cities to set it up themselves while I was only volunteering my time to the organisation! The biggest reward of course came when we started to see more and more such initiatives popping up all over the country around 2017/18 which really showed me that communities around music are the only way to go with live experiences. I definitely don't claim credit to have set this up for India (we have had baithaks and patrons of art since historical times, so the intimate concert experience is just an evolution of that) but I do believe that Sofar growing quickly across the country in those first 6 months played a pivotal role and was almost a catalyst for event organisers to confidently create spaces where the focus is on listening, and nurturing those communities once set up.
Tell us more about your stint with Sofar Sounds? (Places you may have visited, new cities you discovered music in? Your favourite Sofar session, any other notable moments during your time at Sofar) I joined Sofar as the city expansion and training coordinator in October 2016. I started out creating training manuals and recruiting curators to run independent events in their home cities, and over my 5 and a half year stint went on to set up systems to make the process of event planning safe and efficient for a global community of 300+ independent event organisers, represent this community across the company's goals and keep them engaged and aligned with the brand during a global pandemic. I got the opportunity to directly grow this community from less than a 100 to over 300 curators, who are passionate about music, arts and culture in hyper-local settings and are part of a larger global movement to redefine the way music is experienced.