| 21 Feb 2024
I think it's the right time to come back with independent music: Anurag Bedi

In 2014 Zee Entertainment Enterprise introduced a new music label to the music industry. It’s been three years since then and one has just seen it make it way upwards. We are talking about Zee Music Company. The label since its inception has given the audience variations in music, be it a party, a romantic song or an emotional song, Zee Music has explored it all.

To understand the labels business strategy and upcoming projects, got into a conversation with Zee Music Company executive vice president and business head Anurag Bedi. Excerpts from the interview.

Zee is a brand in the entertainment industry, has Zee Music lived up to it?

The group’s capabilities across the length and breadth of entertainment have been a tremendous lever for individual brands. In a short span of three years, Zee Music Company has come up the ranks and is the fastest growing music label on digital platforms.

What is Zee Music’s target audience?

As far as the target audience is concerned, I see an overlap in the audience, the consumer is the same in terms of Hindi music. A great track will be danced upon whether it is Despacito, a Punjabi or a Hindi song. So, there is no difference in the consumption of the consumer. Especially the language space be it Hindi or Punjabi, there is an overlap in the audience. Provided Bollywood is the dominant consumption requirement or probably where the consumer sees the actor and consumes music.

Zee Music has also been releasing independent music.

I think it’s kind of conscious effort to build in a parallel to film music. Independent music is something that happened even earlier which seemingly died down a decade or two. I think it’s the right time to come back with independent music. It has a long way to go ahead like Honey Singh and a lot of Punjabi artistes. Musically, Punjabi industry is more popular for independent music. Also as observed it is going vast nationally. So as leaders I think we need to put a conscious effort in building the parallel music industry like the west.

Tell us about your new music acquisitions.

 Many acquisitions are in the pipeline for the next 12 to 18 months. This includes Akshay Kumar’s Pad Man and Gold, Sairat – remake in Hindi, Gally Boy, Student Of The Year 2 and a few more.

How does the Zee Music B2B business work?

This comes under licensing. This (Licensing) is the key revenue for all our labels whether it is serials, digital platforms like Gaana, Saavn or YouTube because the consumers do not buy music. A volume of buyers where the consumer buys music is negligible.

Can you share an approximate ratio of the independent music that you aim at singles releasing in a year?

There is no such specific ratio to it. Last year (2016) we released around 60 independent singles and there is no stopping us, we are really not slowing down on anything. If we come across something interesting or unique we jump upon it. There is no ratio that we are trying to maintain, we are just going with the flow.

What is the film selection process for Zee Music?

A lot of credibility goes to the banner. Then the actor and the director play a vital role in our selection. Then comes the storyline whether it is a biopic, musical story or a love story. It plays an important role.

Any plans for special musical segments?

We came up with Zee music specials in 2015 and I can proudly say that the first special we did was with Neha Kakkar crossing 260 + million views on YouTube. The best part of this is that it is re-enforcing our belief that independent music or artiste led music can be as big as film music. Neha Kakkar is the only artiste whose video crossed 200+million views.

Secret Superstar was a big hit. How has that helped gain a newer audience?

The credibility that an Aamir Khan and his banner brings to the consumer is very high and coming straight after Dangal with the Dangal girl and Aamir Khan creates a huge excitement amongst the audience for the movie and music. We have anticipated that after the movie release, the music has actually jumped high. Also, Amit Trivedi has come up with something new here. He is one of my favourites.

What marketing strategies do you follow at Zee Music?

YouTube acts as a marketing destination for us as it is the most preferred digital platform for the consumer to come and catch the video there. Pre Jio the markets were largely four to six metro regions and post Jio we are watching a lot of attractions coming in from smaller sectors. I can surely say that a lot of consumption has gone up only post-Jio came into the picture. The marketing of such music is backed by our channels, the broadcasters have helped take the music to small channels in smaller towns where their internet is still a problem or there is no consumption of internet. That makes us stand out from other labels, no other labels own a broadcaster as we do.

Can you throw some light on Zee Music Company’s recent expansions and its objectives?

To increase the reach we have expanded into seven languages in the last two years, we have 90 per cent market in the Marathi music space for film music. This year we have entered into Bengali, Bhojpuri, Kannada and Punjabi, last year it was Telegu and Tamil this is just to reach into the regional space.