RadioandMusic
| 22 May 2018
Rachna Kanwar: "36 per cent of all music consumed online is devotional"

Being in the online radio space for around four years now, PlanetRadiocity has emerged as a strong player with differentiated content offerings for its listeners. The channel also experimented with niche music segments in its ‘Freedom Radio’ which is now garnering them immense popularity and listenership with constant innovations. With music consumption gaining momentum on the digital forefront, the online web radio has taken another plunge into the experimental space by launching its fourth stream ‘Radio City Smaran’.

In conversation with Radioandmusic.com’s Chandni Mathur, Radio City SVP and business head digital media & new business Rachna Kanwar highlights the growth of the station and the challenges it faces as music consumption grows on digital platforms.

Excerpts:

Tell us about the progress and growth of PlanetRadiocity in 2012.

This year, a lot of interesting happenings have taken place in PlanetRadiocity. We have launched three radio streams –  Indipop in February, Freedom and a pure Hindi radio station which sounds a lot like Radio City terrestrial called Radio City Hindi, and our fourth one being the recently launched Smaran. It’s been quite an interesting journey that is validated not just by the music fraternity but the listeners as well, with the kind of growth in listenership that we have achieved.

What are the major milestones achieved this year?

One is of course all the new products that we launched which are growing really well. Highlighting an example, Radio City Freedom has already reached around half a million streams and that despite being in a niche music segment. Even Smaran has been garnering good response and we are hoping to reach a similar number in a couple of months. Apart from that, we are also doing exciting things on the rest of the websites. This was the season of activities ‘Junior RJ Hunt’ held earlier this year during summer, and ‘Boss Top 5’ which we did around September targeted at trades. We also did many client led activities like a webcast for Bigg Boss. Apart from that we also did many activities on social media, some of which were client led.

Tell us about the fourth web stream ‘Smaran’.

Radio City Smaran is somewhat like our first stream ‘Fun ka Antenna’ which was a multiple genre stream. Similarly, Radio City Smaran too caters to multiple genres but the space is quite different. The space includes tracks from the spiritual, devotional and wellness sector. We have infused a whole lot of genres in this like bhajans, chants, Sufi music and are pretty secular in terms of the devotional music. We are soon looking to introduce Gurbani, gospel music, Buddhist chants and more.

Why the decision to venture into the devotional space?

We have always endeavored to have very differentiated products as opposed to other people who are just putting their playlists on the websites or taking some properties from terrestrial radio and launching them online. We have tried to give a very different experience and venture into genres which so far nobody has really done on terrestrial. This has also been an extension of our terrestrial property which plays devotional music every morning from 5-7am. We have seen how popular this is with the listeners, not just on terrestrial radio. If you see the internet space, our research shows that 36 per cent of all the music that is consumed online is devotional. Though there is a lot of devotional music present online, there wasn’t anything curated and specially handpicked the way we have done it. Keeping in mind the target market on the internet and the audiences that we track, we added a lot of genres to the stream. Also for each festival we will be having music which is specially curated and the first will be with Christmas for which we have an interesting line-up.

What are the promotional and marketing plans for the same?

On 13 December, we launched this on our morning band across all 15 stations with Anup Jalota singing a special bhajan which was played across all the stations. At the same time we also launched a contest where we asked listeners to send us their bhajans or aartis and the ones that we like will be played on Radio City Smaran. Currently that promotion is going on and we are also going to be taking it to our partner websites and other alliances that we have.

Will there be any on-ground activities as well?

For now we are not going on-ground with this property, but within the next three months we are going to be adopting a 360 degree approach to the marketing plan.

How are you planning to attract more advertisers on PlanetRadiocity.com?

Our strategy for attracting advertisers here remains the same as it is for the other stations including our live web radio – Radio City Fun ka Antenna. We offer a lot of interactivity, do a lot of integrations therefore this year we have had lots of clients who have been repeat clients with us. We have done interesting integrations earlier with Bigg Boss. We are also giving clients a lot of engagement on social media. Moreover, web radio itself is a very engaging medium, so that is our USP.

Elaborate on the growth witnessed in terms of listenership and advertisers in 2012.

There has definitely been an increase in the advertiser base. This year has been really good for us; we have seen a huge amount of growth. In terms of listenership, the multiple genre radio station Fun ka Antenna has reached around 2.5 million streams, while Radio City Freedom is doing half a million streams with similar numbers on Radio City Indipop.

With digital platforms increasing along with the consumption, where do you see the future of radio on the space?

If you look at the internet radio and then at the Indian websites or the radio networks, nobody has done internet radio the way it is supposed to be except us. Internet radio doesn’t mean just putting up your properties or playlists online. Internet radio is when you are engaging the listeners online and creating something special for them and at the same time has an engagement. No other radio network has looked at it like that. Everyone calls their offering radio whereas it’s not, it’s just a playlist put together.

The way music consumption is happening online and the way people are turning to this medium for music; shows that the space has a bright future and will definitely grow. There are a whole lot of factors which one has to take into account to figure out which way it will grow. A lot of hurdles like music licenses, piracy and more will determine how the space moves forward in the future.

With newer avenues to invest in, the competition will also build up on the web radio scene. How are you preparing for it?

A lot of people are already doing stuff but I don’t think it is web radio. If you look at our growth over the last four years, we have already built a very strong and loyal listenership base. We also have been in the space the longest, so we are pretty confident that the kind of approach that we have taken for differentiated product offerings and adding to it from time to time, we will stand out.

What are the challenges and road blocks that lie ahead for internet radio?

The major challenge has been music licensing because the structure and dynamics is so big that it keeps changing every year. But one can’t keep changing the strategy according to how one is receiving the content. But one is forced to do that because the market does not have a uniformed structure. Apart from that, if you are talking about niche products, getting the revenues in has become a big challenge.

Websites with playlists are being branded as web radio now. Your comments

I think that the advertisers need to really understand what the difference between the two is. Also I would say that the way people are consuming the content is quite different. There is music discovery when they are looking for something specific and they are consuming it; for that a short playlist will do. But when you are listening to radio or something for a long period of time, you turn to online radio because you find convenience in it along with a lot of expertise. But I would not want to run that down because if that strategy suits someone its fine.

In terms of listenership, all the illegitimate websites have pirated music running on them, which definitely affects our listenership and revenues as well. When people are getting everything on a site, then driving them to your website which may not have that particular content may become a challenge.

What are the kind of researches you do to analyze the market?

We do our user behavior researches. Before any product is launched, we study that genre and the elements which are required to create a good product. We have our in-house team and also employ outside agencies for the same. Internet itself is a treasure trove of all sorts of data so we go through that as well.

Elaborate on the progress of other web streams like Freedom Radio. Have you signed on more artistes to promote the indie scene?

Yes we are constantly signing more artistes. Infact we have a very big announcement coming up soon. We are really excited about the indie space and are constantly talking to new artistes, some small indie labels. People who are in that space in any capacity, we are trying to tie-up with them.

What are your views on the independent music scene today?

It’s a very exciting space. With the kind of response we are getting on Freedom radio and on our Freedom hour, is overwhelming. So we are constantly in touch with the fraternity and have got tremendous support from them. We have taken up a challenge to go all out and do as much as we can for the space.

What are the future strategies and initiatives for PlanetRadiocity?

We are going to be looking at more differentiated products and will be launching new products every three months.