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Kutchery on the Net

A student team has set up a site that enables people from all over the world to tune in to full-length Karnatak music concerts

It was Senthil Krishnan's idea. This music lover got together a dozen friends, students from different disciplines, and launched a site called Kutchery last year.

Kutchery means concert, and it's concerts that this site takes across the globe. Kutchery launched its site in November 1998, and within a few days started receiving appreciative letters from all parts of the globe. The largest number came from USA.

This year Kutchery's relay has been on since December 14. Sri Krishna Gana Sabha and Rasika Ranjani Sabha are familiar to Chennai's music lovers, and concerts held here can now be heard by music lovers anywhere in the world.

We asked Harini, Kutchery's Chennai contact, some questions about the site and its philosophy:

Tell us about the people behind Kutchery.

Senthil Krishnan got us together... He's studying in the US and will be down shortly. We're a bunch of students from different streams -- 3 MCAs, 6 engineers, one CA, one M.Phil, two B.Scs -- the only thing in common being our love for music. We are a non-commercial set-up to promote Indian classical music and new talent. We broadcast quite a number of concerts during the 1998 season and later, 10 concerts over the year. Apart from broadcasting concerts, we give easy-to-absorb info on music. We were the first to bring full-length Carnatic music concerts to the Internet.

What is the response like? How many hits do you get?

The response was overwhelming. We received hundreds of appreciative e-mails. We were also reviewed favourably by Times of India, Economic Times and Indian Express. We were covered by several local newspapers and magazines as well. We do not maintain a hit counter, but even going by our feedback from sources other than e-mail, we can boast of a large hit rate. Our popularity in the US is mainly by word of mouth. People even contacted artistes to appreciate concerts featured on our site.

You are working with two sabhas now. What about the others?

We speak to sabhas depending on where the artistes we feature perform. We may speak to a couple of other sabhas. Sabhas are quite open to the idea of music getting onto the Net and encourage us.

How do you plan to sustain your effort?

Last year, we had a tough time convincing sponsors as full-length concerts on the Net was a totally new concept. This year, since they have already heard of us, people have volunteered financial support. We plan to build a corpus in order to carry on.

Are there any other hassles in your way -- copyright, artistes refusing to be featured, technology...

The artistes who are featured on our site have done so without any commercial expectations. Our hats off to them. They have been absolutely cooperative and even oblige song requests that come from all parts of the world.

For the record, who are the other Kutchery members?

Abhirami, Deepa, Gayathri, Giridharan, Hari, Mahesh, Narayanan, Senthil, Shankar, Sriram and Vidhyashankar.

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