Mihir Joshi is part of the new creative generation that uses technology and the digital space very efficiently to promote their work and reach out to people. He is @mihirjoshimusic on twitter and is very popular for being approachable, interactive and a perfect gentleman. He has mastered the art of digital and social being used as the primary marketing channel for creative and performing arts. The Quill caught up with Mihir and had a wonderful chat with him. Read on
Tell us more about yourself and your journey up to here! You are a good role model for young aspiring musicians
Well, it’s been a fairly long time now but there’s a long long way to go on my journey in the world of music and entertainment.
Let me start at the very beginning, which I’ve been told is very good place to start (musical reference I just couldn’t resist). I was always a good student growing up and like all good Maharashtrian boys, I did my engineering, Electronics Engineering to be precise from Fr.Agnels Bandra. I hated pretty much every minute of it except the one month that I go to rehearse with the college band for our annual festival. This is where I first started performing for large crowds and this is when I knew that I wanted to spend my life making music and being around music in one way or another.
I finished engineering in 2003 and the very next year after auditioning for All India Radio’s FM Rainbow, I joined there as a radio jockey. This was because once engineering got over I didn’t know a single musician in the circuit and couldn’t form a band of my own. I thought that sharing the music I love with people on the radio would be the next best thing. I also decided to start supporting bands and artists from India who were making music and started doing interviews. I worked in radio for about 8 years post that (the last few with 94.3 Radio One).
My time in radio gave me two things – I started meeting a lot of musicians in the scene which helped me form my first band and the ones thereafter and I started doing a ton of interviews. I think in the 8 years that I was on radio, I must have interviewed over 250 artists both international and Indian (Bollywood singers and independent artists).
Whilst doing all this, I anchored events, hosted a couple of shows on television, wrote for newspapers and magazines, started my own online music magazine (the now defunct emusicpost.com), worked at EMI Music for a year (my only corporate job ever) and basically got to understand the music industry better from both sides of the fence – as an artist and as the people who make artists happen/succeed. This education…these experiences were absolutely brilliant and still help me tremendously today.
In the last couple of years I feel I’ve done some of my best work so far. I started my own talk show, The MJ Show (which actually evolved from something that I’d started on my blog) to chat with the biggest names in music and entertainment for youtube and it later got picked up by NDTV Prime as well and I worked on my music.
I have two bands now – a Bollywood band that plays covers and mainly caters to corporate crowds and an english rock band called The Mihir Joshi Band (MJB). I recorded our first album last year with Ashish Manchanda and the album, Mumbai Blues, was released on 31st May 2014 digitally worldwide on Times Music. The album went on to win the GIMA Award for Best Rock Album this year in Feb.
I’ve just finished two seasons of The MJ Show (75 episodes) and I’m on a season break right now. I’ll start shooting season 3 soon. The show has about 3.5 million views and over 11,000 subscribers right now and is growing by the day.
That roughly covers what I’ve done in my first 11 years in the entertainment industry.
Who is your inspiration? Who are your favorites?
I grew up listening to and learning from singers like Dean Martin, Elvis, Roger Whittaker, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles. I’ve always considered them my first gurus. I then got into The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, The Eagles and many more rock bands. Currently I love John Mayer. These are some of my favorites but my inspirations would probably be my father and my mother. My dad didn’t teach me about music or about the other things I do, but he taught me how to work hard, how to really believe in myself and how to be the best at what I do. My mother taught me how to truly love something, she taught me about faith and has helped me to be a good man today. And my biggest inspiration is my wife who inspires me to be an even better man and who is pretty much the reason I do everything I do.
Music is a very creative and time consuming line of work, yet you get time for social media, how do you manage that?
For a musician in India…or for that matter, anywhere in the world, social media is the most important and useful tool to reach out to his or her fans. This is the most direct and honest way to let people know what you’re doing and immediately gauge what they feel about your work.
The work in the studio and on stage is very important, but I think it is just as important to get this part of the work, and it is work, done well.
From the very start, even before Orkut and Facebook became massive, I was in touch with my fans through my website and guestbook. When Orkut happened I had a page on that and now with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube I’m even more active on social media. I have always replied back to everyone myself all these years and will continue to do so to the best of my abilities going forward to because I always remember that without people being interested and invested in what I do, I couldn’t really do it successfully as a career. My fans and followers have always been extremely important for me. So yes, I make the time for it, no matter what!
What are your thoughts on the state of social media as an enabler to reach out to people?
I think the last answer quite clearly explains that but yeah…it truly is the best, quickest and cheapest tool to reach out to people with your work. And good work does get noticed.
What has been the one best thing that Social Media has given you so far?
A connection with my fans. Hearing their feedback gives me confidence to do what I do and drives me to get even better every day. It has helped me reach parts of the world that I could never have reached without social media and I’m immensely grateful for that every day.
What is your policy for engaging with SM users? Some can get unruly and very rude quickly
As a rule most people I’ve chatted with have been very nice to me. Sure there are some people who’ll get rude or say nasty things, either to your face or behind your back but I’m extremely zen about such things. My logic is: You can NOT please every body. If someone doesn’t like what I do, that is completely their prerogative. As long as I believe in my work and it gives me joy and it gives most people who see it joy, I will keep doing what I do. I don’t get bothered by the few negative comments that come my way. If it’s genuine criticism that could help make me better, I think about it and try to change things but if someone is just saying stuff to be a troll or to piss me off, I will most likely just ignore it.
You have a TV show, your music – are there hobbies other than these?
I’m a HUGE movie and comic book fan and have a massive collection of comics, novels, movies and action figures & statues at home that is my pride and joy. I’m also a big football fan and love Manchester United and I’ve always been a HUGE WWE fan and I’m so thrilled that for over a year now, I’ve had the pleasure of working with them.
How has Tech helped you in your line of work?
Being an engineer, I was never daunted by technology. Even when social media as an idea was brand new in India, I was into it. Like I said…I made my own website with a guestbook years ago to connect with my fans and I’ve been on every major social media network that mattered since then. It has helped me learn a lot too because you get to see what a lot of people in other parts of the world, in your line are doing currently.
Apart from the internet, tech helps an artist in every way. I have been an endorsee and a brand ambassador for mega electronics brand Harman for over 5 years now. I carry my own microphone and in-ear monitors wherever I perform and they’ve helped me set up my home studio as well. Great equipment helps you be a better artist…on stage and in the studio.
If you meet your younger self from 5 years ago, what will you tell him today?
“Don’t give up. It’ll get better.”
I used to say that to myself back then too but if I met an older version of me saying that to me, it would be even more reassuring. This was and still is very important because being in this line of work isn’t easy. It’s still not easy but the only way to make it work is if you really love what you do and you DON’T give up!
Has Digital yielded visible results for your engagement and music?
For sure. The MJ Show is proof that a good idea in the digital space really can work. We’ve had virtually zero advertising or marketing done for the show and it has now crossed over 3 million views. That has happened ONLY because of social media. Could it be better if we spent money on marketing and ads…sure…but we’ll get there too. The start however has been this good only because of word of mouth publicity on social media.
Even with my music…it is only because of youtube that a LOT of people know me as a musician.
Lastly, what would you tell a young musician looking to leverage digital today?
First thing I’d tell a young musician is…get good at what you do. Get the attitude and social media and promotion part later.
But once you’ve got the talent part sorted out or at least good enough to get on stage in front of an audience (because you never really stop learning), then make sure you use social media really well to help spread the word about yourself.
I’ve seen so many fabulous things happen for young musicians thanks to social media and so many people mess up because they thought that social media and a pretty face/money spent on PR is more important than talent. It has to be a good mix of both for it to be successful.
Thank you Mihir for your time and insights! We wish you a brilliant future ahead and a lot of blockbusters coming your way!