| 23 Oct 2020
Culture Machine has an artist centric approach says Tuhin Menon

Digital video entertainment company Culture Machine, maybe expanding into the data analytics space and other areas. But for the company, building a community of artists will continue to be the main focus. In conversation with, Culture Machine business development and talent head Tuhin Menon talks about his plans for Culture Machine’s artistes, its project- Music Tripping and more.

How was 2014 for Culture Machine?

2014 was a seminal year for Culture Machine. While we grew across verticals, we have been able to cover a fair bit of ground in the realm of Music specifically. We now work with some of the top YouTube music creators in the country, and are proud of the relationships we have built with them over time. Also, importantly, we have developed our own proprietary tool, labelled Video Machine, which allows us to create great video content using purely audio inputs, at scale and at an incredibly quick pace. We have struck deals with several large music labels, working with their audio catalogues, now largely dormant and restricted in monetisation and distribution potential, to create great-looking video content that can be optimised across the digital video eco system.  

How will you think the new rule of YouTube affect companies like yours?

Copyright claims (if this is what is being referred to) have been an age old phenomenon on YouTube. We have a team that deals with all claims/ rights issues diligently. We also ensure content going up from our creators are copyright cleared to begin with.

How many artistes/musicians did Culture Machine sign last year? And how many do you plan to sign this year?

We signed a lot of musicians to our roster last year, representing a diverse array of musical styles and genres. More than scale, however, it is important for us to build long lasting relationships with all the artists we engage with. Engaging with an artist comes with a great degree of responsibility for us- to nurture and grow them across platforms, and to ensure they reach out to their core audiences in a direct, compelling manner. 

How much does Culture Machine contribute to an artist’s YouTube popularity?

In an age where immediacy and an intimate connect with audiences is what is valued the most, we see ourselves as facilitators that are able to optimise an artist’s 'voice' across Digital Video touch points. We treat each platform separately, keeping in mind the intricacies attached to each, and target/ program content accordingly. Our Intelligence tool allows us to glean great insights on consumption patterns for different kinds of content, which we then use to help boost the artist, connect with their audiences. All of this serves to greatly enhance an artist’s popularity and increase engagement across platforms.

Which music genre is your focus?

We do not focus on any genre per se. Ours is an artist-centric approach; helping build communities around each and every artist we engage with, is key for us.

Which gets the most traction- Entertainment, Music or Comedy?

It is hard to pick one, as there are great creators within each of these verticals that drive massive viewership. Overall, however, India is a very music-oriented market. This is largely film driven still, but we see the eco system changing dramatically to embrace a wider variety of musical genres. Digital has been a core catalyst here.

Tell me about the association with Music Tripping?

Music Tripping is a Culture Machine O&O (Owned & Operated), which we have kicked off with the flagship YouTube channel. We plan to build this into a hub for global pop music, featuring content from Spain to Amsterdam to Korea. 

What are your plans for Aditi Iyer?

Aditi is an artist we cherish working with. She has grown tremendously, both in her talent, as well as her innate understanding of her audience. We are able to supplement that with programming insights and analytics effectively. She is a very driven individual, even at the ripe young age of 11, and is constantly working with us to develop new content for her burgeoning audience.

Are the videos created by your artistes reaching markets beyond the India Diaspora?

YouTube, as well as some of the core Digital Video platforms we engage with, are global in reach. So in that sense, all the content we create/ promote reaches a global audience. Consumption tends to vary depending on the kind of content it is. However, we are seeing a larger adoption of content by Indian musicians across borders. Aditi is a good example of that. A tonne of her viewership comes from the US and Western Europe.

How has the traction been for Culture Machine artistes- new subscribers and views on YouTube?

It has been great. Some of that has been organic, with the increasing migration of eyeballs to Digital Video platforms. However, a lot of it has been driven by the insights we are able to glean on audiences and consumption data using our intelligence platform. That has been a game changer. Overall, viewership and subscriptions have snowballed.

Do you plan to expand into any new markets?

In terms of talent and the platforms we work with, yes we are. A lot of this year will be dedicated towards building a truly global community of creators in the music space, while continuing to expand into international markets with our Video Machine tool. That is a big priority for us as well.