RadioandMusic
| 16 Jul 2019
Packing an online punch

MUMBAI:áLabels and independent musicians in India are just discovering the power of social networking sites to promote new products..

Music in India is finding an ally in an unexpected quarter. Social networking sites, that haven of youth, are slowly becoming the favoured medium of labels and independent musicians to promote new creations and to create a buzz.

Almost 15 per cent of sales are being attributed to online promotions through social nets, if experts are to be believed.

Orkut, Facebook, ibibo - the list is growing longer by the day as labels seek out different online platforms to plug their wares. Orkut, that launched in 2004, has 17.51 per cent of its users in India, as of May 2009. Facebook currently has a relatively humbler 3.5 million users in India compared to Orkut's 23.3 million users (Alexa figures), but the number is growing daily.

Internet penetration may not be high in the country currently, but the music buff is apparently catching up. According to a Forrester Research report 'Global Online Population Forecast, 2008 to 2013', India would see a growth of 10 to 20 per cent by 2013 in its internet users, touching 52 million by 2008, and having the world's third largest online population. The social nets and labels have been quick to spot the trend. Launched in 2007, ibibo.com has been on a roll since December 2008 with strategic partnerships with Sony Music and other music labels. Asserts associate director (entertainment marketing) Siddhartha Deshprabhu, We encourage interaction through music to reach out to larger audiences. Ibibo customises user engagements for a brand and make separate web applications for each of these properties with interactions enabled....

Sony Music's association with ibibo includes a mixed bag of music- Bollywood (Raaz The Mystery Continues), Indipop (Kailash Kher and other Sufi compilations) and international projects like Michael Jackson and Beyonce. Sony Music marketing director Sanujeet Bhujabal says, Each of these diverse associations has had very encouraging responses. We can safely conclude that music, irrespective of the genre can be popularised on these sites ÔÇô provided the promotions and the communication are apt....

He elaborates, Social nets help on two levels ÔÇô firstly, with a presence in an environment where people want to consume a product like music and video. Secondly, the discussions and sharing give us insights in addition to knowing whether the community is liking the offering or not. This helps our existing products as well as marketing and promotions of forthcoming ones....

Apart from Sony Music, ibibo has similar product offerings with international music labels like EMI, Saregama, and Warner Music.

In.com too recently partnered Sony Music for live streaming Shakira's first single, She-Wolf. áIn.com product manager Rishab Gupta says, Although we have a gamut of properties on our website, music properties guarantee more hits and leads to increase traffic on our website....

Moolah for music labels

The websites insist that labels can tap unconventional new media through the internet and interaction levels at the social nets are higher than with any other medium. With 280 million mobile users, it is the best way to reach out to a young India that's glued to either a computer screen or a mobile screen.

Bollywood music seems to be a hit among the networking sites and a key driver for youth audiences. The Reliance promoted portal Bigadda.com recently promoted Bollywood properties like Kambakht Ishq and Love Aaj Kal. Big Adda COO Shivanandan Pare explains, We get a half million hits daily for our music related properties. And when members consume content online, this interest does get converted into album sales....

Deshprabhu echoes the thought adding that networking sites are good media platforms for music labels to promote their physical forms and repertoire and accelerate mobile revenues and digital sales. á In.com pays the requisite license fee to the music labels and updates its catalogue with latest songs across genres. This paves path for the labels to monetise by offering their music and also to get visibility on the web platform.

Monetisation is difficult through sale of music on these networking sites but indirect monetisation through advertising revenue seems to be a viable option, say the players.

Pare offers, A revenue model can be woven if the bands have exclusive tie ups with a networking site. In this case, there can be revenue share model where the networking site can stream the music and there can be a revenue share from the advertising banners on the page and the hits received by them. This is an untapped route which can be approached....

Bhujabal believes the social nets are a fairly new medium and a system to generate revenue through them is yet to take off. We use social nets for sampling and awareness but this will lead to ad supported revenues in the near future. Like other promotional media, we use these sites to popularise our content and it indirectly leads to consumption on the physical and mobile front....

Having tasted the new media platform, Times Music CEO Adarsh Gupta agrees that networking sites leads to a spike in sales. At these networking sites, we directly interact with the communities who are interested in a particular genre of music. The audience in the community is the core buyer and it helps us to push the product to a probable buyer....

Boon for indies

In a Bollywood dominated scenario, networking sites are also emerging a saviour for non-film independent music in India. Says Shivanandan, Networking sites can be used by artistes as a platform to launch themselves in the physical world. Artists can create a fan base and once they are accepted by the online audiences, can move on to launch a physical album."

Shashwat Gupta, manager of many metal bands in India says, The culture and the market for niche music in India is increasing. Through these networking sites, the audiences opt for their kind of music by joining communities and the audiences get segregated....

One example of independent bands exploring networking sites would be Bangalore based folk rock genre band, The Raghu Dixit Project. Dixit is on his fourth Orkut account, having maxed out the number of friends on each of his first three accounts. He boosts of 4000 fans on the Facebook community and about 5000 people on the band's personal website.

Pare is of the opinion that networking sites offer direct connects to the target audiences and is a cost effective marketing tool for bands to promote themselves and form a fan base.

Delhi based electronic dance music group Jalebee Cartel took the social net route for promoting their album Onepointnothing earlier this year. Cartel's manager Dev Bhatia says, Underground musicians hardly get any commercial promotion, so we broadcast live via in.com, indivibe.com and submerge.com. Other networking sites like facebook, twitter, orkut were also part of our promotion.... The band claims it got 10000 hits on their live broadcast and in.com has uploaded their album for live streaming.

Gupta maintains that although the nets are useful as a medium, their potential as a revenue generator is questionable. He explains, In the age of technology, these sites are an inexpensive marketing tool for independent musicians but it cannot draw in revenues. However, it can be a channel to redirect audiences to sources of sales like itunes, venues, or as promotions to buy the CDs....

Bhatia agrees that the sites have a lot of traffic and provide a good opportunity to increase the amount of "cumulative reach".

Bangalore based gigs organiser Arpan Peter also believes that a presence on the networking sites increases the turnout at live performances. He elaborates, Selling music in the form of CDs has become tough. Marketing has become very important for bands. They should seek merchandising solutions from these networking sites by giving updates of their coming events, thereby adding to the foot falls....

It's a small world

Networking sites have proved to be a boon for musicians to collaborate across the globe, share music files, create music in their studio setup and incorporate elements in the original track.

Rainbow Bridge front man Sanjeev Thomas says, Through one of these sites, I got through a organiser in Finland who summoned me for a gig in Finland. After playing solos at some venues, I collaborated with some artists in Finland and performed some more shows abroad....

Composer Ajay Naik says he met two lyricits who penned his latest album through Orkut, while singer Sonu Niigaam has been collaborating with music lovers on his fan page in Facebook in the making of a tribute track for Michael Jackson. Says composer Saikat Roy who is working on the music of the tribute track, Sonu came up with the idea of creating a song for MJ and we consolidated the lyrics penned by Facebook users. I chipped in with my music scratch, which was uploaded on Facebook. Singers from Canada, Mumbai, London have pitched in their voices for the tracks....

Thomas is now searching for four original compositions from Indian artists/bands to add on to his upcoming album. Naik has used Youtube to upload videos and post links on networking sites to get enhanced exposure, and Roy has collaborated with musicians from Australia, America and composed 30 songs in the last six years.

The net has been cast wide. Time will tell if the catch is worth the effort.

Send in your comments to: anita.iyer@indiantelevision.co.in