From Mug to Mike: A Pioneer Initiative for Bathroom Singers!

 Sunil Koshy, Founder,  Archana Hallikeri, Co-Founder
Sunil Koshy, Founder

Steve Jobs once said, ‘People with Passion Can Change the World.’ This is the secret to entrepreneurial success. One such story led us to Bangalore-based ‘From Mug to Mike,’a creative startup which is born out of real passion and a noble cause to help people sing and learn music. An idea purely inspired from thousands of bathroom singers. “We wanted to create a platform where anyone – with or without any musical knowledge or training, or age bar – can come and experience the joy of singing and learn more about professional singing and that too, in a professional recording studio. On top of that, each participant would get an opportunity to record a song in his or her voice in the studio during the workshop,” explicates Sunil Koshy, Founder.

From Mug to Mike is enthused by thousands of people who love to sing and hold it close to their hearts but might have never explored singing due to the fear of being ridiculed, or due to lack of encouragement or not knowing what form of music to learn or where to learn. “There is a clear gap between the traditional music training and what most people actually want to sing. Most of them need more than just the technicalities of raga and taal; they need an understanding of the basics of music and a strong support to usher them into the world of music and bring back their long lost love for singing and sing without any fear. This is done in a simple and very interesting way through our workshops,” says Sunil.

Sunil and his wife Archana Hallikeri, who is the Co-Founder of From Mug to Mike, designs the workshops, conceptualizes music videos and plans stage shows. Their initiatives give new opportunities for aspiring singers and also artists in the music industry. Throwing light on the same, Sunil says, “We are excited to see people’s love for music irrespective of their age. People new to singing are encouraged through our platform. Feedback is instant; we can see their joy as they record in the studio and sing their hearts out. Housewives, retired people, stressed out corporate are among the many people who have been a part of our beautiful journey.”

The Journey of Music
Sunil’s association with music began at the age of two and a half with stage performance in preschool. He was an untrained singer till his engineering days, although he was quite popular as a singer in school and college and won prizes at contests. “Singing helped me make new friends amongst seniors and juniors in college. Even some of the strictest professors become my friends because they liked my singing. I also sang in the local language of Kannada even though I did not understand or speak the language. My mother tongue was Malayalam and I was born and raised in UAE. This fascinated most of them and they felt my diction was pretty good,” shares Sunil. Just after this, he sought professional training in Indian classical music basics and started off his journey of exploring his voice.“I had started learning music in school but my first music teacher said my voice is not good. The best thing was my dad asked me to stop learning from him! Later, I started learning music during my engineering days. After completing my computer engineering and when I found a job in Bangalore, I took up music seriously,’ he says.

Techie turned musician, Sunil’s professional stint began with a small company while he dreamt of working in a big companies and practice music professionally at the same time. His next job was with Intel where he was immensely happy with the work and the remuneration but could not give much attention to music. He then took a brave step, quit his job and started pursuing singing in a Gurukulam in Chennai. After this break of over two years, he then joined HP and got back to software coding. “I started working on my music videos along with music directors and also assisted them for a few movies. Again I took a couple of breaks and I continued balancing life as a techie and musician for a few more years. I won an award for best singer for my musical project ‘Reboot’ – an audio film which tells the life of a techie through six songs and short dialogues, entirely through music and sound only. “My gurus from whom I learnt music are Vidwan RR Keshavamurthy, Dr. K. Krishnakumar, Pt.Parameshwar Hegde, among many others,” he mentions.

From Mug to Mike is a platform for music lovers by music lovers. The company since inception has functioned with the ultimate purpose of bridging the gap between the bathroom singers and the music industry like never before. “We are the bridge between the common man – the bathroom singer, and the music industry. Right from helping people realize the joy of singing, to recording their own music videos
and collaborating with the best musicians and engineers in the best studios in India – we make it all happen easily and in the best quality possible,” asserts Sunil.

Over the years, the platform has helped amateur singers release their own music videos and endowed them with opportunities to collaborate with some of the best musicians and studios in India. “We have collaborated with legendary singer Hariharan’s studios in Mumbai and record and mix and master many of our projects there. We also have conducted workshops with KS Chithra and Hariharan where the aspiring singers got to meet and sing in front of them and get tips from them too. We also recorded Kumar Sanu for one of our projects. This is the first time that celebrities conducted workshops of this sort and connected with amateur singers,” informs Sunil, gratifyingly.

"Till Date, Team 'From Mug To Mike' Has Explored Different Cities Including Kochi, Trivandrum, Chennai, Mumbai, And Delhi And Has Conducted Over 400 Workshops And Trained Over 7500 Participants."

When Sunil and Archana started ‘From Mug to Mike,’ their journey looked exciting yet challenging. “When we did our first workshop on April 27, 2013, in Bengaluru, we mostly had friends, and friends of friends attending it. Thanks to media and word of mouth which quickly made our brand popular in a very short time. People were intrigued with the idea of workshops for bathroom singers and that too giving them an opportunity to record in a studio like a true professional. We got many calls and emails and we had to schedule many workshops in a short span of time,” says Archana.

Asipring Musicians & Singers at a Workshop in Bangalore, Conducted by 'From Mug to Mike'

Initially, it was difficult to manage data and also schedule workshops. However, they soon explored new cities which gave a boost. They conducted workshops in Kochi, Chennai, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Delhi and UAE. She says, “Each city became a new experience with lots of surprises in store - right from spreading the word in a new city to getting accepted to this weirdly new concept and getting registrations.”

Staying Ahead of the Crowd
At present, one of the biggest problems is that the aspiring singers often look for small stages or amateur venues to perform, which gives them instant gratification without focusing on serious learning. However, the real improvement in singing happens only when singers record in studios and understand their voice and focus on the right practice and release their original music with industry musicians. This is where From Mug to Mike comes into the picture and helps people record their original songs, and in this process, they understand and learn about professional singing and recording techniques.

The company is said to add value to the music industry. The team works with leading studios, top musicians, engineers and also encourages upcoming lyricists and musicians. At times, the budding musicians are even given opportunities to collaborate with their projects.

In addition to this, ‘From Mug to Mike’ offers great quality in its workshops and music production services and connects with customers on a personal level in a genre they like. “Music training in an innovative and fun way like never before is one of the key highlights in our services. We are the pioneers in training and recording bathroom singers in a high-end studio and letting them experience and discover their own voice,” smiles Sunil.

Sunil Koshy with K.S.Chitra

The platform is open for all - anyone who loves to sing - irrespective of any prior training, age limit, can come and learn the basics of singing, experience the joy of recording a song in the studio, understand more about modern recording techniques, get over stage fear and evolve as an artist. Participants who complete three levels are given a stage performance in front of public and personalities from the music and film industry.

There are regular activities which include workshops, sending feedbacks of recordings to participants that take place within the organization. “We are constantly exploring new avenues and interesting things to do. Composing, mentoring, practice
sessions, stage shows, and meetings for upcoming recordings and collaborations for film and non-film music work are other regular activities,” avers Archana talking about a typical day at work.

“We strive for excellence in our workshops and music production. We are here to explore newer and exciting opportunities, willing to take adventurous risks and are always learning from our mistakes,” further adds Sunil.

Archana Hallikeri, Co-Founder

The Brighter Side!
Till date, team From Mug to Mike has explored different cities including Kochi, Trivandrum, Chennai, Mumbai, and Delhi and has conducted over 400 workshops and trained over 7500 participants. They have created original anthems for Bathroom Singers, Women’s Day, World Music Day, composed many original songs in Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, and other languages.

With so many developments taking place, in the times to come, From Mug to Mike envisions going global and helping as many people as possible to experience the joy of singing. Further, the team wants to create original music videos spreading social messages and also make it easy for aspiring singers to get noticed.“We want to build even better relations and collaborations between music industries globally and within India. We have engineers & musicians from different locations working on a single project. We want musicians and artists to get their deserved recognition and also a more consistent income and secure career,” concludes Sunil, on a strong note.

Sunil Koshy with Hariharan

Panel 1:
Sunil Koshy’s Leadership Mantra
You grow when you help others to grow
Sunil loves doing different and exploring new things. He tries his best to understand the customer and their needs clearly. He believes in learning a lot from each initiative and from all mistakes.” I do not like to blame our failures on circumstances or people ever. I am willing to go that extra mile and put in extra hours to complete a project fully and in the aesthetic sense.
We are very keen and make sure that with each program, workshop and events; the customer grows and gets the most,” he says.

Panel 2:
Customer Testimonials
Vishwajith Bharadwaj, Software Engineer at Flipkart
“It’s been over 5 years since I joined From Mug to Mike and I can say for sure that it has been one of the best decisions of my life so far. Workshops conducted by Sunil Sir and Archana Madam are so informative and detailed that in a few hours you get to know so much about music and its technicalities. The highlight of the workshops is that you get to visit a fully equipped studio and also get an opportunity to record a song.”

Dr Jai Ganesh, Dentist
“I love music since my young days. I never got trained with a teacher then due to professional and personal reasons. But once I happened to meet Guruji(Sunil Koshy) at the From Mug to Mike workshop – the name itself is so different and unique and the lessons here are not taught mechanically, you live through the lessons and exercises, experience them and see your own growth in terms of acquiring knowledge. There is no place like From Mug To Mike on this planet, I am blessed to be associated with From Mug To Mike and to learn with Sunil Sir.”

Panel 3:
Key Message for Readers
Our platform is not just for people to become professional musicians or artists, but it is for those who want to have fun and enjoy the process of learning music and singing without the fear of being criticized. Over the years, if we look at music and singing courses, it has created pressure among the students to compete and compare, thus resulting in unhealthy environment. That is not the case with us. We encourage anyone and everyone, without any discrimination or age barriers to learning music and experience the joy of singing. We want to encourage everyone to sing, because singing makes one happy and in turn, makes the world a better place!

Housewives, retired employees, stressed corporates – everyone finds bliss in singing and exploring their own voices. Also, the aspiring singers will find a clearer vision to carve a niche and go on to fulfil their dreams through our platform.