Art & Entertainment

Junaid Nazir: B-Schools Should Focus Not Only On Business But Also On Other Subjects

Junaid Nazir, founder of Sabbath, claims creating content—art, music, writing—will be among the most preferred jobs in the post-Covid world. To keep B-school students alienated from this would be a mistake.

Junaid Nazir: B-Schools Should Focus Not Only On Business But Also On Other Subjects
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Returning home from his office in Gurgaon on a drab evening in 2018, Junaid Nazir took one of the toughest decisions of his life—give up his corporate job with a six-figure salary at Google India and pursue his passion: music.

“I thought it was the biggest mistake of my life,” Nazir tells Outlook.

He wanted to use his education—a postgraduate degree in business administration—and five years of experience in marketing and advertising to explore the world of arts. “I am an art lover, and I am especially fond of music,” he says. “From my days at Google, I learned what sells and what does not, and what makes a good piece of music popular.”  

In 2019, Nazir met Ayan Joe, a guitarist, and Srinath Kumar, a drummer. And, soon Nazir launched Sabbath, a music company that was incorporated in 2021. It is not yet making any profits, but they plan to break even by mid-2023. Now, they produce music compopsed by young artists from Kashmir. One of the popular tracks they have released is “Khatima” by rapper Ayaz. Another song they will release soon is “Madano” by debutant Mehreen Muneer. “We spot young musicians and artists, produce their music, create their videos and distribute them, and market them on social media,” he said. “Four years since I took the decision to quit, I feel blessed to do something of my own.”

Music in the Valley

An aspiring musician needs a lot of resources to put out their music. They need to rent a studio to record their music, hire musicians, produce a video, and eventually market their music. This is an expensive process that most aspiring musicians cannot afford.

‘At Google, I put my academic knowledge to practice. But I realised I can do more than managerial stuff, do something out of the box,’ says nazir.

Nazir offers all these services for free. He also markets their music, giving them visibility and providing them with a base of listeners. So how does he do it while making Sabbath a viable business? Through his training in marketing. “I have studied hardcore marketing,” says Nazir, who has got his MBA from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, New Delhi, in 2012.

“At Google, I put my academic knowledge to practical application. However, I later realised I can do more than managerial stuff, and pursue something out of the box.”

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Jam session Nazir with his co-artists Ayan Joe and Srinath Kumar Photo: Suresh K. Pandey

Teach them some humanities

But Nazir regrets not starting his venture earlier. “This was because of the rigid syllabi and statutes at my alma mater,” he says. “My institution taught hardcore business. If I was exposed to music as an art form during my MBA days, I would have immediately started doing what I like instead of working at a corporate giant for five years.” Nazir feels B-schools should focus not only on business but also on other subjects. “Fine and liberal arts, history, literature—these should also be taught rigorously,” he says. “This will increase choices of the students when they look at different careers.”

Learning to market music

When Nazir quit his job, he knew how to market music. But he did not know how to make it. In his pursuit to learn about it, he met and connected with people from all walks of life, especially musicians, to learn the tricks of the trade. Now, Sabbath’s music production is led by a talented group of musicians. Guitarist Joe and drummer Kumar often travel to Srinagar, Nazir’s hometown, to collaborate.

Nazir has taken upon himself other responsibilities such as marketing, advertising, strategy, artiste management and scouting for talent. “A month back, I was reading a study about the dynamics of employment in the post-pandemic world,” says Nazir, “The article claimed that creating content—art, music or writing—is among the five career choices that will see a boom in the coming decades. Is it fair to keep business schools restricted to business studies only?” For him, the question is rhetorical.

(This appeared in the print edition as "Giving up Google for Gigs")

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