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We try to figure out Delhi's ban on recorded music in pubs

Wait, what?

Ujjainee Roy @UjjaineeRoy 22 May 2018, 1:45 PM
So, now we have talk to each other?

So, now we have talk to each other? Image: Thinkstock

This week in Delhi vs Nightlife,  pubs and restro-bars in the city are prohibited to play recorded music at the venue. Only live performances are allowed. The obvious boost to the indie music scene aside — What. Does. This. Mean?

The government has directed that as per the 2010 excise rules, restaurants serving alcohol are allowed to hold only "live singing or playing of instruments" by professionals.

The move comes after the Delhi excise department received a number of complaints from local residents regarding "nuisance" created by several pubs in the city.

There are at least 900 pubs in Delhi, but there is no provision of a separate licence for pubs, and playing recorded music will attract strict action from the authority, with the Delhi government warning these establishments against it.

"People looking to have a good time want loud music, and music at the very least. They create a problem even if the music shuts down for a minute. We open up from 12 in the noon and close at 1am, and no performer or band can sing for so long. We need to able to play music in any case," Paritosh Mittal, owner of the pub Londoners, told T2 Online.

"Of course it will affect us. They are taking away the music!" says the marketing head of The Chatter House, Delhi.

Interestingly, when asked how live music was less noisy than recorded music, Delhi’s excise commissioner Amjad Tak said that live music was “softer” and “controlled." Has he ever heard live EDM?

"A blanket ban is erroneous in nature. There are family restaurants serving various cuisines and ambient music adds to their experience. Unfortunately, this will go silent with this dictate. National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) is engaging with the excise department to resolve the issue," says NRAI president Rahul Singh.

The ban has, of course, made way for panic among the city's restaurateurs. Umang Tiwari, who owns two restaurants in Connaught Place, says, "Our business will not survive without music. People are coming to these joints for entertainment. If there is no music, how will our business survive? All restaurants cannot afford live music." 

The live-music only policy is obviously good news for the city's music scene, and indie artiste Aditi Ramesh agrees with us. "It will be interesting to see how the ban will affect the live music scene in terms of programming, set durations, compensation, quality of music and whether it will encourage new musicians to enter the fold," the singer-songwriter tells us. 

"It is encouraging that live music would be taking the place of recorded music but the practical logistics of how this works out will have to be seen," she adds.

The 'ban' faced a lot of flak from locals, and Tak recently released a statement denying that pubs would face any consequences if they play recorded music.

"The Excise Department has not banned recorded music in restobars. No action will be taken against them.  We are getting complaints about loud music, but it is not our work. We will forward it to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee," he was quoted saying, as per a NDTV report.

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