by Anastasia Bogdanova and Jasmine Conrad
Meet Ritesh Gupta: a fourth year Business Economics major, and the man behind CollegeRoots.
CollegeRoots is a project that works to promote artists and create a community of visitors who have a say in who and what are the driving forces in music right now. College students know and love music, but the aggregate market of college performers hasn’t been seriously tackled – until now.
FAST: How did you come up with the idea for CollegeRoots?
Ritesh: It started about a year ago, when I had a blog that featured four genres: electro, mashups, covers and dubstep. It was a really simple WordPress site, and I would constantly update it with songs I found on Youtube. I had about 50 visits a day, but it was a group of dedicated followers . One day, I was brainstorming with a friend in the dining hall, and became intrigued by the possibility of looking at the music scenes on different campuses and in various regions. Then, during a trip to Georgia, I noticed that my cousin didn’t know many performers on his college campus because he had few opportunities to hear about them. I went through my iTunes and found hundreds of artists that started in college. I realized that a music platform that features this specific type of performers has tremendous potential.
FAST: How did the development process for the site go?
Ritesh: I started developing the site in September and wanted to launch at the end of November at the latest. I found a team of dedicated people that were passionate about the concept and interested in bringing their talents on board. I made many changes to the design on the website, always keeping user convenience in mind. I ended up pushing the date back as I kept reevaluating the design. I’m a visual person, and know what I like when I see it. In the end, the website design I chose was simple and clean, which is different from my eclectic taste in fashion, but consistent with my goal of offering users a convenient browsing experience.
FAST: What kind of artists are featured on your site?
Ritesh: I define college affiliated as current students or alumni. There are many performers who are current students, and there are also so many alumni that are amazing. Many people don’t associate artists like Coldplay with the college scene, but this is where they got their start. On CollegeRoots, we feature such artists to educate, inform and inspire – these people have made it big and received a college education. There is a certain sexiness behind college artists – their ability to balance music, education, and social activities has appeal.
FAST: What is your goal for CollegeRoots?
Ritesh: My goal is to provide a high-quality platform showcasing college artists. Our team personally selects performers to make sure they are up to the standard and add value to the experience of visitors. The “Root” feature allows users to vote for artists and songs they especially like, and the collective opinion is reflected in areas such as “Most Rooted Artists.” I want to make people feel good when they visit the website.
FAST: How would you describe your personal style?
Ritesh: It is constantly evolving and depends on my mood and the situation. Three months ago, I was in suits every day, but now I wear outfits like the one I chose today ( bright plaid shirt, jeans, Vans). I would say that my style has become very eclectic – I wear strange things sometimes that reflect my personality. I have these shorts called “Friday Shorts,” they are my mom’s from the 80’s, and are very fun and unusual. I usually match them with a Hawaiian shirt. I shop at various places – I can splurge on jeans and then find a great item at Buffalo Exchange. When an occasion calls for a certain outfit, I’ll wear what is required, but also put my spin on it.
FAST: What is your opinion on the current relationship between the music and fashion industry?
Ritesh: Fashion is definitely an important element for some of the musicians I work with. Some bands care about their image, but are focused mostly on the music. But there are also other artists that put fashion at same level as music. These artists use style to express their personality. For example, Adam Levine chooses very appealing outfits that are fashionable and modern. Do I think artists care about what they are wearing? Absolutely. Fashion is an internal thing; style, art, music and lifestyle are all interrelated.
FAST: Any final comments on CollegeRoots?
Ritesh: CollegeRoots is people and music – there’s no specific formula, and I don’t have everything figured out. In that sense CollegeRoots is a big hypothesis. Do I think it will work? Yes.