This Singaporean Entrepreneur is Bringing Contemporary Music Schools to the Land of Classical Brilliance

There is a huge gap between demand and supply for contemporary music schools

learn more about Sanchita Dash

By Sanchita Dash

Entrepreneur India

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For years, we Indians have woken up to the sounds of sitar or the beats of the tabla as in the neighbourhood someone sits down for an early morning riyaaz. But today, even the alarm set on phones is a ringtone of a contemporary song.

A land that has been the birthplace of innumerable globally renowned classical musicians has slowly embraced the West. Today, contemporary music has found its place in the hearts of hundreds of millennials. The influence of the West has also seen an influx of renowned pop culture artists making a beeline to perform in India.

While there was time when parents insisted on the children learning music with a harmonium or a sitar, today they too have opened up to guitar or drum classes.

And that is what brought Charles Lim to India. The director and co-founder of Singapore-based Academy of Rock is set to enter the Indian space.

Entrepreneur India caught up with Lim, at Asia's biggest franchising event - Franchise India 2017 - at New Delhi to know what made him bring a contemporary music school to the land of classical music.

Musical Entry into India

Lim's wife, a piano teacher, was the one who came up with the idea to set up a school for contemporary music in Singapore. Facing disciplinary issues while teaching music, she decided to reach out to a music school. However, when she did so, she realised that there was a huge gap between demand and supply for contemporary music schools. Teaming up with her husband, they established Academy of Rock.

A decade into the business, today they are one of the dominant players in the market. "We started out with three schools in Singapore at first, and today we are working with more than 1,000 students in four countries."

The company has its sub-franchises in Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore and is now looking forward to capture the Indian market. "We see a lot of potential in Indian market in terms of its inclination towards western music."

In India, they are looking for franchisors and want to expand their operations into tier I and tier II cities. Talking about the expectations from India, Lim said, "I feel Delhi & Mumbai are the most prominent cities. This is our model for India."

Contemporary Music is The Future

Bringing contemporary music schools to India might seem like a risky task to many but on the contrary, the demand is at an all time high with more and more people wanting to pick up an instrument and strike the chord. Lim states that one of the main reasons why they started with just contemporary music is to fight the assumption that only people learning or teaching classical music or recognized.

"One of our aims is to give people in the contemporary music education a recognized status," said Lim.

At the Academy of Rock, they have created their own syllabus which is taught by their certified teachers. Their syllabus is unique and understands the requirements of the students and that is what sets them apart, believes Lim.

According to Lim, the market for contemporary music is not just limited to India. "Most people today listen to popular music. Contemporary music allows creativity and is not exactly easy, that is why there is a need for schools like Academy of Rock," he said.

With inputs from Komal Nathani

Sanchita Dash

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

In the business of news for 5 years now. Making my way across India thanks to my career. A media graduate from Symbiosis, Pune, I have earlier worked with Deccan Chronicle (South India's leading English daily), T-Hub (India's largest incubator) and Anthill Ventures (a speed-scaling platform). 

Stories, movies and PJs are my thing. 

If you hear 'The Office' opening score randomly, don't worry it's just my phone ringing. 


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