Gaurav Kushwaha, a Music & Travel Entrepreneur, founder of Musicathon

Gaurav Kushwaha

Interview with Gaurav Kushwaha, a Music & Travel Entrepreneur, founder of Musicathon

A Music & Travel Entrepreneur, Gaurav Kushwaha is the brainchild behind Musicathon – the music festival of the mountains at Bir, Himachal Pradesh. 

Before becoming synonymous with Musicathon – India’s coolest independent music festival, Gaurav has had an interesting journey.

Despite a modest educational start, he paved his way into the fast and furious start-up world and today, is a passionate owner of two successful ventures.

Gaurav Sir, as he’s fondly called by many who draw inspiration from him, is a purpose-driven entrepreneur whose ventures have drawn economic benefits from bigger cities to the needy communities in the foothills of Dhauladar.

He gets lucrative and compelling offers from brands to carry out his work in the metros for a bigger audience with higher spending power, yet he has firmly stuck to his objective without distractions.

Like-minded professionals should feel free to connect to leverage from each other and create some extraordinary value for the world.

To chat up with Gaurav, one can find him sipping Masala Chai at his first love and creation, Musafir Café – The Traveller’s Café in the foothills of Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh. 

Can you tell us about your journey as a music and travel entrepreneur? What inspired you to combine these two passions?

Gaurav Kushwaha: Being a music lover and travel enthusiast since forever, I never imagined starting a festival such as Musicathon A few years back.

The conceptualisation of a Musicathon began in 2019 itself when after working for several years with a reputed travel startup, I decided to quit my job to focus on my childhood dream of opening a small cafe in the mountains. Bir was the love at first sight for me and I knew this is where I see my future. 

Soon, I opened my very own cafe named ‘Musafir’ which has now become a crowd favourite in Bir. All this while I always wondered how music has been a unanimous reason that curated everlasting bonds between all sorts of travellers.

This gave me thought to why not provide a platform to these talented independent musicians who are looking for a like-minded audience for exposure in my café.

Starting in 2019, the first edition witnessed only 2 artists with 10 attendees, but I believed that this has the potential.

I organized the second edition in just the next three months. This time, the number of attendees rose to 120, and in the third edition which was organized again after three months, it grew even more. And the rest has been history. 

What led you to choose Bir as the location for Musicathon? How does the destination contribute to the overall experience of the festival?

Gaurav Kushwaha: Bir is a majestic place; the vibe and aura of this mountain city are unmatched by any of the mountain valleys.

One more reason for choosing the Bir is Transportation. If you go by the psychology of a traveller, people want to go to places where they can reach in less time and without any hassle.

Bir is well-connected and can be easily reached from any part of the country. Further, Bir is also famous for paragliding which attracts a lot of young and thrill-seeking crowds.

The crowd is looking for something exciting and that’s what benefits Musicathon- a picture-perfect backdrop, mountain bliss coupled with musical evenings.

How would you describe the unique concept and experience of Musicathon? What sets it apart from other music festivals?

Gaurav Kushwaha: Musicathon is one of a kind of musical experience that stays with you for even days, months, or years. This music festival isn’t like others where the artists performed on the stage and left.

Here, the attendees and artists have the chance to interact and engage in thoughtful conversations over the shared love of music. 

What challenges did you face while organizing Musicathon, and how did you overcome them?

Gaurav Kushwaha: One of the biggest challenges in organizing a mountain music festival is the climate. Whether it is Summer, winter, or spring, there’s always a chance that it might rain.

There is an inside joke of the team that whenever Musicathon happens then there’s a chance it will rain on those days.

However, rain God is always happy with us that whenever there is a schedule of performances the rain stops, and the show continues smoothly.

Further, since the transportation of equipment can be a challenge. Sometimes getting a good tech rider required by the artists become a challenge as we must get it either from Chandigarh or Delhi.

Everything is DIY in this festival, and we must plan everything in a way that the harsh weather doesn’t affect the festival.

Can you share any upcoming plans or projects related to Musicathon or your other ventures that you are excited about?

Gaurav Kushwaha: Currently, we successfully hosted mini editions of Musicathon outside of Bir in Delhi and Bangalore. We wanted to give a glimpse of the festival to those who haven’t yet been a part of it.

Now, we are gearing up for the 11th edition of the festival that will help in the last quarter of this year in a special avatar.   

How do you curate the lineup of artists for Musicathon? What factors do you consider when selecting musicians for the festival?

Gaurav Kushwaha: Musicathon is now known as a platform that gives a stage for independent artists to showcase their talent.

Hence, the line-up plays a crucial role in the festival. I personally listen to several artists, some that I discover on my own or recommended by friends/ artists.

Then, I shortlist a few of them and reach out to them for Musicathon. One important factor is that we promote original songs and hence it’s important while selecting the artist that he/she should have a set of one hour to play at the festival. 

As an entrepreneur, what personal qualities or skills do you think are essential for success in the music and travel industry?

Gaurav Kushwaha: The Indian music industry norms and audience musical tastes keep on changing continuously. Hence, it is very important to be able to keep up with the changing scenarios.

We can’t keep working in a way that might have worked a year back. So, keeping up with the change and adjusting your business in the most fruitful way is a very crucial skill that an entrepreneur needs in this industry. 

What message or feeling do you hope attendees take away from Musicathon? 

Gaurav Kushwaha: We have received this feedback from so many of our attendees that their playlist changes after they attend a Musicathon.

They are more inclined towards indie artists they listened to at the festival as well as are keen to explore more such artists. Wish to keep this feeling alive for the attendees who will join us in future editions.  

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