MUMBAI: The 6th edition of MixRadio Music Connects provided a pivotal platform for the discussion of Indian multi channel networks (MCNs) and how YouTube has helped artists in building a strong viewership, new content and audiences. When it comes to MCNs, India has a large digital video market and the younger audiences today are more likely to watch digital videos than television.
Moderated by Music Matters president and Branded co founder and CEO Jasper Donat, the panelists included All India Bakchod (AIB) co founder Tanmay Bhat, Qyuki Digital Media co founder and managing director Samir Bangara, Ping Network co-founder and director Rajeshree Naik, Digital Quotient (HT Media) business head entertainment Parmeet Lamba and YouTube India head of content operations Satya Raghavan. The session discussed the advent of MCNs and the rising players who are creating content online.
As the co-founder of one of India’s leading YouTube channels, Bhat spoke about how it all began for him. He said, “Well, we began as a comedy podcast and then sometime last year, we started doing sketch comedy on YouTube. Our YouTube channel became the fastest growing channels in India. We now also make content for brands”.
Raghavan expressed that he was delighted with the fresh content emerging on YouTube. He commented, “Earlier, I used to only watch YouTube for movie trailers but all of a sudden I am finding myself watching unique content on channels like AIB. It’s truly been a fascinating year for YouTube”.
Speaking of the business model of YouTube, Raghavan further elaborated, “YouTube is platform where you see online videos. Advertising is our primary source of revenue and we share more than half of that with the creators”.
Bangara added on the role of MCN in today’s market, “We are like the new-age label. We do what record labels did for musicians in the traditional market. Today, you do not have to be in a bar to discover new music talent. YouTube does that for you”.
Talking about the rise of MCNs, Donat pointed out, “This is an area where there is some serious money. Companies are being bought for hundreds of millions of dollars. One of the biggest MCN deals had Disney acquiring Maker Studios for $500 million plus $400 million earn out”.
Bangara responded, “We are in the broadcast network creation space and monetization on that is two-fold. Ad monetisation on YouTube is not sufficient. As a MCN, we bring a lot of branded content to the table. We take talent, package them and promote them to brands. Our business model is a mix of brand monetization as well as CPM ad monetisation”.
Naik agreed with Bangara and further added, “This business is eventually going to be based on relationships. The technology platform is YouTube but the MCN is purely a service business. It’s all about understanding the ecosystem and helping the artists benefit”.
Parmeet Lamba commented, “It is also important that we help individual artistes in monetizing and distributing their content. In the regional space, a lot of Punjabi music has been coming up. We build talent and they become popular. There are a lot of deals and collaborations happening in the market. A lot of brands are approaching us to feature their products for the artists’ next videos. The brands offer to sponsor these artists. And with the gained popularity, these performing artists get more live gigs”.
Elaborating on how YouTube helped him in his popularity meter, Bhat said, “When we attended the YouTube fanfest this year, it was a very overwhelming experience. People were watching us on their phones. It was a different level of engagement altogether. YouTube is the platform to be on!”
Adding on to that, Raghavan added, “There are a lot of cover singers who are becoming popular. We also get to see original content in the music space. Being on YouTube definitely gets you more gigs and it is an amazing platform for the common man to express himself. However, one needs to constantly put up content. Fans love to see the passion you have for your craft and the engagement level needs to be high. The creator needs to be disciplined and also focus on interacting with his or her fans. 2015 is going to be the year of music!”
While speaking on the potential of YouTubers breaking into the mainstream music scene, Naik opined, “If you were a musician about 20 years ago, you would have sung for about 5 years and then made a video. Today if you want to be a musician, you need to begin with the video. Today, you have that platform that can help you get noticed. That pretty much sums up why digital videos are so important for musicians”.