We cannot put a value on the healing power of music or its influence on our emotional health. However, we must value those artists who give us this invaluable experience through their creativity !
Garvit Aggarwal, our next pathbreaker, leads Technology Development at KRP, where he is responsible for building financial models that value a client’s music business and helps create opportunities for artists and writers based on their music royalties.
Garvit talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about always being a musician at heart, but taking a different route by combining his engineering skills with a degree in music business to create a financially rewarding ecosystem for music by helping artists to thrive based on intellectual property.
For students, if you want to give back what you have gained through music, you can also work behind the scenes to make music richer by getting artists due credit for their work !
Garvit, tell us about Your background?
I grew up in Delhi where I studied at Amity International School. My father is a Chartered Accountant, CFO of an electronics company now, and my mother is a homemaker.
I have always been a musician at heart. I did a couple of live shows for a year with a band, but also wanted to be involved in the music business.
What did you do for graduation/post graduation?
I went to BITS Pilani for engineering. I worked for 2 years and then pursued my masters in Global Entertainment and Music Business (M.A.) at Berklee College of Music
What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
I always had a passion for music. I also had a deep appreciation for business. My future career choices were shaped by my internships and work experiences.
During my final year of under-graduation at BITS, I had the opportunity to work on a music economics report that focused on the economics and psychology of music procurement.The objective was to know the effect of perceived preferences of others on an individual’s taste and preference for music procurement.
I quit my first job to play music in live events. After getting advice from experienced professionals about what I like, as well as guidance on foreign education by my career counselor, i decided to pursue a career in the music business.
Tell us about your career path
BITS Pilani is India’s leading scientific institute. My four-year education had a very flexible curriculum which allowed holistic learning involving multiple disciplines.I got extremely attracted to economics. I majored in electronics engineering and took up elective courses in economics, finance and data analytics. This led me to bag a job in the consulting department of an ITes company based in India. The institute gave me opportunities in music and dance, which I admire. I became really fond of two professors – 1. Dr. Mridula Goel, professor of Economics and 2. Prof. Layla Mascarenhas, professor of music and psychology. Some of my future study track has been influenced by my research at this alma mater.
My first internship was in GMR Varalakshmi where I was involved in CSR activities focused on rural unemployment.
My second internship was in Grant Thornton in business research. It was a life altering experience where I grew closer to management consulting . I wanted to become a part of consulting giants like BCG, McKinsey. I built great contacts and got to know how it was to work at such companies.
My third internship was at KPMG. The work culture didn’t appeal to me.
I think these experiences taught me what I liked and where I could contribute naturally.
I got my first job at Searce Inc, through a campus placement, after a lot of rejections. It was a great work culture, with a lot of exposure to cloud business sales. Though I hated it initially, I realise now that the experience has helped me grow. Since I had a very accommodating team manager, I got to work in other areas too.
I left my first job after 9 months to pursue live music. I started performing in live shows. Though it is a very difficult business to be in financially, I stuck to it. Plus, i started teaching for CAT/ GMAT/ GRE which helped stabilize my financial situation (i still continue to teach – one of the important things that keeps me going)
In 2020, I took up an internship at KRP (a US firm) in musical royalties valuation. It was a great work culture. I became indispensable and helped the startup kick start itself. I analyzed royalty statements sourced from performance societies and distributors to value clients’ music business
My current job (KRP) is in the same company where I did my internship.
I believe startups are awesome to learn the business across all domains!!
How did you get your first break?
I always wanted to be at Berklee to learn music ! But growing up, I realized that I was good at understanding business and its environment – so I decided to merge these two into ‘Music Business’ – Berklee came as a natural choice.
An introduction into such a course exists – yes, it is difficult to have that kind of vision in India. This information was provided to me by a counsellor, who knew what people at Berklee were doing. Thankfully, my mindset was altered by smart people I surrounded myself with.
While at Berkeley, i was involved in a few personal ventures of my own, Xplor and Groovy.
Xplor was my thesis (practical entrepreneurship) as a part of Berklee’s curriculum. Xplor was a music discovery platform using data analysis for music curation, whereas Groovy is a business based in India aimed to help all kinds of musicians understand their royalty streams and make them capable of collecting those revenues properly – it is a music consultancy for artists, bands, writers, composers, labels, managers and music publishers to be aware of their royalty income and collect it properly – we help them collect it. Music royalties are payments that go to recording artists, songwriters, composers, publishers, and other copyright holders for the right to use their intellectual property.
KRP rolled out an internship requirement at Berklee. Although it was focused on music publishing – a domain I am very excited about – I got to demonstrate analysis and financial skills that made me contribute highly to the business and they hired me thereafter.
Always keep talking to people, be in touch, and perform more than better at internships.
What were the challenges you faced in your career? How did you address them?
I was failing interviews. So i talked with people who aced interviews and also learned from linkedin and other resources by being true to myself
I was unable to connect with people because I always thought it was trade, or I was asking for something. So i decided to build true relationships (that is what networking is). I even started helping others without expecting anything in return (as long as it is within your interest area, you’ll end up at least learning something)
Where do you work now? What problems do you solve?
My current job (KRP) is in the same company where I did my internship.
The Music Business is a very complex business as we dive deeper. If you look at the big picture, it is a business that pops out of the copyright laws of a country.
E.g., When you buy a CD, you pay the retailer, who pays the manufacturer, who pays the record label, who pays the artist and publishing societies. The publishing societies pay the writers and the composers.
I head tech team where i use my background in engineering to develop tools that fasten processes, reduce interdependencies, and automate stuff.
Economics helps understand the environment in which clients operate their music business We build financial models that help in creating valuations, and forecasting revenue (when talking about investments)
We also analyze data that gives us an edge in presenting useful information in an interactive manner.
I feel you can enter the music business from any angle – whether you are a marketeer, finance professional, data analyst, writer, content creator – there is a place for each role in the music business. Unfortunately, the Indian market is young and needs a lot of improvement – which implies – there are great opportunities ☺
My role at KRP is focused on analysing income statements, presenting information that is useful, and bringing in business for the firm.
The most critical skills for this job are MS Excel, data presentation, consulting, creative mindset, data analysis, business development, mentoring, prioritizing and so on (acquired through internships, college education and mentors’ advices)
A typical day is spent on number crunching, data analysis, talking with the team, formulating reasons for why the data says what it says, presenting the data, talking with clients, getting updates and working on creative solutions to get deals done.
I love the autonomy, flexibility, work culture, people, the work itself, as well as the opportunity to connect with industry professionals.
How does your work benefit society?
We help musicians get paid fairly for what their music is worth – cutting through bullshit and getting them the money that various organizations owe them
Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!
I helped a songwriter receive $8k owed to her – she didn’t even know existed.
Your advice to students based on your experience?
Be present, and keep learning. Always have a curious attitude and work at your best level. Also, listen to yourself.
One word – GROWTH
Whenever you feel comfortable with where you are, you will be stuck there (or even worse, go down)