Blue Frog Media Pvt Ltd, a music startup that ran Mumbai’s iconic live music venue BlueFROG, has filed for bankruptcy and its insolvency plea is currently being heard by the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
Blue Frog Media was cofounded in 2006 by music composers Ashutosh Phatak and Dhruv Ghanekar, fund manager Simran Mulchandani, film director Mahesh Mathai and film producer Srila Chatterjee. The label included not just the eponymous live music venue, but also a production house, a record label and sound labs.
The sprawling venue, housed in the compound of Mathuradas Mill in Lower Parel, was opened to the public in December 2007. It steadily secured a place among the best gig venues in not just Mumbai, but also across India. Performing artistes have included Shaa’ir n Func, Richard Bona, Imogen Heap, Zakir Hussain, Anoushka Shankar and John McLaughlin.
In 2016, BlueFROG shut its 12,000 sq ft space due to certain issues with its landlord. At that time the company said it was in talks with its franchise partners to expand and relocate to at least two places in the city, including South Mumbai. However, the plans did not materialise due to high rentals and in the next few years the company also shut its outlets in Pune and Bangalore, said sources.
According to the records, the financials of Blue Frog Media also weakened after the closure of the Mumbai venue. “The company has accumulated losses; has incurred cash loss in the current year and preceding year as well and its networth as at September 30, 2018 is eroded,” said Blue Frog Media’s annual report of financial year 2019. The company’s revenue from operations dipped from Rs 3.8 crore in financial year 2017 to Rs 2.71 lakh in 2018 and zero in FY 2019.
Phatak said that they closed down their studios owing to issues with the landlord, and the live club venue had been their main focus. This was around 2013, when the Blue Frog record label also wound up.
“We all (the founders) have moved on, and it’s difficult to get the same energy back. But never say never,” said Phatak when asked if BlueFROG will make a comeback. Phatak went on to cofound a jazz bar called The Quarter in the premises of the Royal Opera House in 2017. About a year ago, The Quarter also shut down. Phatak said, “Live music venues need patronage at a consistent level. Audiences need to be hungry to go out and hear bands.”
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