RadioandMusic
| 19 Nov 2019
Ashish Patil - Music television is dead. Long live music television!

If there was ever a time to be in the music business, it's now! There's a renaissance happening. Music consumption is at an all time high. Young audiences are saying they'd like to listen to music 24x7 if possible – like having an OST to their lives. Music today is like breathing — they need it to survive and they expect free access — music is not a product for sale… it's an idea, an expression, an artistic statement. But sidebar here, I'm saying music consumption, not music sales are at an all time high. Slight, er, big difference there. Young audiences are saying as long as they can get music free off the net, they'll never pay for it!

Which brings us to the net and technology – which is changing the way music is being consumed completely. Whereas brands once helped bring fans closer to the music/artists they love, they now seem like the unnecessary middleman in certain places 

And that's where it's the death of classic music television, as we knew it. If you're still stuck in the back-to-back music video play out format – all the best! The demise of a few of our friends in the category [even as a I wipe a tear, sniff!] bears that out every year. You're going to hit a glass ceiling both in terms of viewership and revenues if your plan is to just broadcast videos 24x7. And the â€?innovation' is – hey ma, look, no real VJs, we got animation instead! 

While listening to music, watching music videos, reading the lyrics are still the most important music experiences… it's no longer a linear, passive experience. In reality, it's a lot more dynamic, hell, chaotic!

DISCOVER - Consumers want to discover music and artistes. And the sources go beyond the traditional TV, radio, word of mouth to the expanding and emerging word of mouse, video games, blogs, social networking sites and more. Increased discovery also leads to increased disposability of both stardom and fandom! I seem to get tired of music artistes quicker than I did in the past. What role are we playing in helping them discover? Music channels are going to have to refresh their playlists way faster and have a mix that's way smarter than they did in the past. MTV's Kickass Mornings tries to do this and half succeeds being the no. 1 rated music block in the country with not just current Bollywood but random tracks/ videos in there to spice it up too!

EXPLORE - Audiences also don't like to be told what music to listen to by the music industry! Their most trusted source? Themselves! With pickiness on the rise and endless access, intelligent push/ convenient pull is the new mantra. Giving them options basis tastes, choice [think Amazon – if you liked this book, you may like this one too!], some expected, some unexpected. While our classic MTV Chito Chats, Piddhus provided trivia and information; MTV Lost in Translation showcases Tamil, Telugu, Turkish, Spanish and videos in all languages with a mad phonetic take to surprise its audiences 

OWN - The definition of owning music has changed from physically owning it forever [CD, cassette, mp3] to be able to hear it when you want to, now, in the moment [ringtones, caller ringbacks, inserted into myspace profiles, more]. To the industry this may be stealing, but to the consumer this is a natural form of discovery, exploration. And consumers believe it doesn't necessarily take $$$ to be a fan. There are monetary [buy CD, ringtone, attend concert, wear T-shirt] as well as non-monetary [recommend, share, view videos, visit website] activities to demo artiste support. Music channels at some level have been vending their audiences to monetize from other brands rather than making them pay – we're going to have to do lot more of that and in fact facilitate ownership. Just the way MTV's completely interactive 24x7 [you can download every video/ song you watch as a ringtone] and also hosting artiste fan pages and more.

PERSONALISE - Music consumption is no longer a passive experience. It's about adding your own creativity to it. The new tools are the net; phones/ digicams with cameras and video; software; CD burners leading to outputs like personalized playlists, mash-ups, mixes, own versions of videos [lip synched/ sung or even shot/ created/ performed live]. Our definition of the music video has to evolve. At vh1 we've done a series of UGC led videos for bands including Pentagram, Bryan Adams and Scorpions… then for Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom closer home by MTV, a series of mixes for MTV Battleground online. We've had users write the lyrics for MTV Splitsvilla's theme song collaborating with Agnee… some super entries, ask Mohan!

SHARE - People have always felt the need to tell others about great music. But today their influence can spread further and faster. From simpling lending a CD, wearing a T-shirt or bluetoothing a ringtone to blogging about a song/ show, giving it your review/ rating, flagging it off on your facebook status update, posting a video on youtube, enabling your computer to file-share… a single person's reach can extend from one person to 10 million! But sharing isn't a totally altruistic endeavor. They expect something back. Credit, feedback, ratings, more. If word of mouth recos are our most trusted form of advertising, are we gratifying our consumers for promoting us? We try that by looping back viewer reviews, by recruitment programs on our Twitter, FB, Orkut… other online extensions. We gratify them through money can't buy prizes – like artiste meet and greets, exclusive merchandise and giving them fame [it's still something big to be on MTV – not just to artistes, but others as well!] We also help deliver a big part of the sharing experience – which is live. The unpredictability of live music makes it the ultimate shared music experience. In their words, the equivalent of drinking a barrel of Red Bull! Watch out for our hottest new show Rock On with MTV which will feature music as never seen or heard before – be it the rock version of �om jai jagdish hare' to the bhangra mix of �Spiderman Spiderman', the bhajan rendition of �emotional atyaachaar' to the rajasthani/ folk version of �dhan ta nan' – with 50 desi rockstars facing off in a live concert every week.

Finally, it's going to be…

About redefining the mainstream. About defining what's popular – not just reporting it.

About making fans pay through word of mouth vs. $$$. Artistes and advertisers are hungry for an economic framework that works for all sides of the equation.

About TRULY embracing what the music video means today. And evolving it.

About delivering shared music experiences – live [beyond just concerts – in the virtual world and more].

About providing tools and platforms to collaborate and personalize.

About realizing that your music listener/ viewer is your USER now.

It's not going to be about the quantum of music on your platform but what you do with it and how. But the recommitment to music needs to be signaled now, while the renaissance is still young.

Music television is dead. Long live music television!


Ashish Patil is MTV India GM and senior VP
content and creative