Great content & good marketing have been game changers: Bhushan Kumar, T-Series
Kumar, T-Series Chairman and Managing Director, talks about music in the Digital era, the #BharatWinsYouTube campaign & much more
Great content and good marketing helped in bringing a change for T-Series, says Chairman and Managing Director Bhushan Kumar. The T-Series brand strategy was changed from just being a music company to an entertainment conglomerate, expanding it to music production, movie production, movie acquisition to distribution and marketing.
Speaking to exchange4media, Kumar said, “Today, we are available 360 degrees in all possible digital platforms in the world of music and films. Plus, we are making great content across many languages.”
“T-Series has licensed its music with Facebook and Instagram and this will enable people to share the label's music with their communities,” he added. He spoke about how in the Digital era, the smartphone has become a man's close friend. “People are consuming content on their phones while on the go. Facebook and Instagram are platforms where maximum consumption of content happens. So a partnership with FB is a logical step in the growth trajectory of T-Series. Millions of users connect with each other through these platforms. Now, they can enjoy our songs officially and get an immersive musical experience,” he explained.
Talking about the recent PewDiePie vs T-Series online competition on YouTube, Kumar says, "It was not something that I gave much thought to. I became consciously aware of it only after people started to send congratulatory SMSs to me saying ‘soon you will become no. 1’. It was not something we took seriously because revenue-wise it makes little difference to us whether we are No. 1 or No. 2.”
Kumar also spoke about the #BharatWinsYouTube campaign that T-Series launched for promoting subscriptions to the channel. “The campaign appealed to Indians to subscribe to our channel. With so much attention on this YouTube battle, we became known in countries which did not have any knowledge about us. We were suddenly put on the world map. With so much international attention, we are now getting inquiries from talents from other countries who want to work with us. So it's all good.”
The main revenue for T-Series comes from digital platforms, from streaming sites like Gaana, Saavn, Jio Saavn, Hungama Music, Amazon Music, and now Spotify. Talking about the company’s net revenue from digital media and streaming platforms in 2018 and the expected growth this year, Kumar said: "The online platforms contribute anything between 50 to 60 per cent to our revenue. A big chunk comes from television, then from radio stations and a very limited number from public performances. We are expecting a robust growth this year and are confident of the content we are backing.”
Asked about the net spend and budgets for advertising and marketing, Kumar said: "This depends from project to project, from song to song. We ensure every song gets the maximum push it deserves to reach its target audience. Every song is different and will require a different kind of marketing and outreach. A lot of research and development goes into it to ensure that a song reaches its target audience. The budgets naturally go up during festivals or if there is a product that a competitor is launching and is vying for the same space at the same time. Also, there are times when rates go up. For example, right now since the IPL is on, the rates are naturally higher for TV.”
About incorporating innovation to the existing catalogue Kumar says, “We already have a huge catalogue and my father had explored a lot on every aspect of devotional music. But this year, we are collaborating with many international artists across genres be it Arabic, Sufi or English music. We are working on our own devotional music catalogue with all kind of amalgamations to cater to the youth so that they also indulge in our evergreen devotional catalogue."
Kumar also spoke about content diversification being the key driver to attract the millennials. "Our target is to do 50 singles this year. T-Series has nearly 20 film releases this year, with all our content-driven films ranging from comedy, biopics, thrillers, real-life stories, romantic commercial films and films based on incidents. We are trying to cater to every segment irrespective of whether it has music or not. We are also planning regional content for films and singles, the way we are into Punjabi film songs."
As one of India's leading film production houses, T-Series has had nearly 20 releases in 2019 and happens to be the biggest music channels on YouTube with 93 billion subscribers.
Reminiscing his initial days of struggles after his father’s untimely demise, "I was studying in college when I had to take up the huge responsibility and do business. I had to solve many issues without having much exposure to the business but with the help of my father's blessings and his great team, we decided to fulfil his vision to make T- series a global music company. With his team members, who are still very much a part of the company, we continued concentrating on music for films.”
Talking about the biggest challenges then, Kumar says, “At that time my father had already made hugely successful films like ‘Aashiqui’ and ‘Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin’, and musical telefilms like ‘Lal dupatta mal mal ka’. He had already bought some big films that were supposed to release. The biggest challenge was to take up the tasks and deliver to get back the confidence of the producers. I started meeting producers and succeeded in convincing them to deliver the way my father did and grabbed some opportunities. Eventually, we started promoting films and music and the films became successful. That made people get all that confidence back.”
So what are the key ingredients to create great music for T-Series. “One should have an ear for music. How to judge a song plays a very important role and I have inherited that from my father. I sit with my team who work day and night on the songs, and share my experiences and insights while selecting a song."
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