Bieber Tests Indian Concert Business

India’s lack of appropriate venues, technical equipment as well as budget poses challenges to promoting large-scale concerts in the country, with a mammoth Justin Bieber concert coming up in May. 

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Justin Bieber shows off his dance skills during KIIS FM Jingle Ball at Staples Center in Los Angeles Dec. 2.

Dinesh B. Singh, founder, production house Navrasa Duende told Indian business publication, that “both Indian and Western classical music concerts can be done very well but we aren’t able to achieve the appropriate scales in India right now.”

Arjun Jain, director of White Fox India, the promoter of Justin Bieber’s May 10 concert at Mumbai’s , said his team had “closed bookings at 60,000 to 70,000 tickets for the Bieber concert” but was “still in negotiations with multiple brands for sponsorship.”

One major challenge is the fees international artists charge when coming to India, “some of whom can command anywhere between $50,000 to $2 million for a performance, thus inflating costs, often taking up close to 60-70 percent of the total investment and leaving little headroom for organizers to spend on production and advertising,” according to

Harindra Singh, vice chairman and managing director at media and entertainment conglomerate Percept Limited, told the publication that “when we get an international artiste, there is very little left to the imagination or discretion, everything is pre-specified, including which particular brand of champagne they want. On the other hand, the Indian artistes are not that well-exposed. I won’t say we get away with anything but they are not that demanding.”

Questioned further by Pollstar, Navrasa Duende’s Dinesh B. Singh elaborated: “The scaling-up challenge is valid for both classical and popular music concerts. It results from a lack of auditorium/open venue capacities, logistics, government clearances, and budget constraints. The indoor auditorium capacity is limited to 2,000 and outdoor venue capacities with logistical support range from 5,000 to 10,000. Other raw venues require a lot of infrastructure development and government clearances.”

He pointed out that “the budget of [Electric Daisy Carnival] in the U.S. is $250 million-plus. The Indian version held this year was on a budget of approximately $3 million. The classical music concerts in U.S. or Europe may be involving a budget of couple of millions, where as in India the concerts are mounted on a budget of $30,000 to $100,000. Most of the concerts are heavily dependent on the sponsorships to become commercially viable. Because of low production value, overseas audience participation is minimal, ticket prices are low, and hardly cover even 50 percent of the cost.”

What is needed, according to Singh, are “larger capacity venues, bigger investments to raise these to international standards, and friendly government policy for clearances and funding of such projects. Right now performing arts, unlike movies, do not enjoy industry status for bank financing.”

Continuing speaking to, Jain pointed out the country’s live music scene had grown over the past five years.

“I feel it’s going to evolve even further into bigger stage shows and considering how we plan to execute the Bieber concert and the response we’ve already been getting, it’s only looking positive.”

Jain estimates the Bieber concert to cost “about $ 2 million and emerge decently profitable.”