| 22 Mar 2023
My commitment to Govt of Maharashtra is you back us and we will give you No. 1 festival in the world: Percept's Harindra Singh
(Image Credit: businesstoday)
(Image Credit: businesstoday)

MUMBAI: The tenth edition of Sunburn, one of the world's biggest music festivals concluded with some of the biggest names from the dance music scene including EDM powerhouse Armin Van Buuren, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, Afrojack, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, KSHMR, Angerfist, Dannic, Nucleya, among others.

This time India's leading electronic music brand Sunburn had a new address. The destination was a privately owned 90-acre land at Kesnand on the Pune-Ahmadabad highway that was home for EDM lovers from 28-31 December 2016. got the opportunity to speak to Percept Limited chairperson and managing director Harindra Singh on the elements that define the festival’s vision, about the intellectual property, brand associations, ticketing revenue, and more.

Today Harindra Singh is regarded as one of the thought leaders in the field of entertainment, media, and marketing communication. So, what is it that defines him? “I think hard work, sincerity, commitment, and the never give up attitude got me where I am today. When we talk about vision, achieving goals, we plan many things, but life takes completely different paths at that moment. The environment we live in is so dynamic and so fast changing. By assuming, you did plan, the amount of change in the environment around you that is going to happen in next 20-30 years, the goal will look stupid by the time you reach there. I think the most important thing is just to be true; your hard work, sincerity will eventually pay off and that is what raises us.”

On the importance of content for music festivals Harindra Singh stated, “We have been playing the whole content space since long. This space is split up in terms of sports content, film, live and music. Content is the heart of a festival and it has to be precise.”

Talking about Percept’s brand involvements and its reach in terms of the association of marketing and growth, Singh stated that Sunburn is an FMCG brand and they made a conscious decision while originally setting up as a live intellectual property.

“Our fans are the kings who are buying tickets and coming to it. As costs are growing up, we are realising that ticket revenue should improve to sustain our existence; therefore our sponsor revenue grew over time. It has to be bigger and better and we have to keep upgrading the product, keep scaling the product. However, I think we have evolved apart from being the live entertainment IP, as live media assets, also I believe our market is still not mature in terms of tickets. At present, we put a lot of energy to make sure that sponsors get engaged to our fans and the engagement continues 24x7 and 365 days. The brands love it too. Compared to last year, our sponsors’ revenue has grown up five times. Right now, we have some of the best-supported IP in terms of sponsors in the country today,” added Singh.

He further added, ‘Ticketing revenue needs to improve big-time. If you go overseas, the ticket price is 100-200 Euros, including FnB you end up spending 400-500 Euros and that is 40000-50000 INR in India. Here people hesitate to spend 3000 INR when I am not only giving you music; I am giving you an experience.

“Sponsorships have generated 50 per cent of the revenues for Sunburn 10 and around 10 – 20 per cent of the revenue has generated through ticket sales. When Rayban puts up a stage, it creates an experience; it is a part of entertainment. You can find the same music online, may be elsewhere, but you can’t find it in this form, this extent, and of this magnitude. Brand engagement is also a part of the experience.”

Sunburn has offered a blend of experiential and technology-based activities with a mix of online and on-ground marketing for all the brands associated with them in the past. “As of today, more and more brands are expressing a desire to associate with Sunburn through engaging ground and digital activities that add to both the brand and the customer experience at Sunburn,” added Singh.

In November 2016 Percept claimed that the Goa government had not returned Rs 6 crores to them. Later a report published by TOI on 23 December 2016 claimed that the Sunburn organisers awaited the host of permissions in Goa as they were yet to be paid performance, excise and entertainment duty fees for the festival’s tenth edition.

Clearing the air Singh said, “People are making different stories about this, but not everything is black and white. There is always some money to give or some money to receive. It is not a big deal, it is normal in business. The government of Goa owes us the money and they are not giving our money. I want the money. We have gone to court as well.”

He also said that moving away from Goa was a conscious decision as it was impossible for Sunburn to function in Goa this year. As they are developing the infrastructure, small things can be done there, but for Sunburn, it was clear that tenth edition of the festival was not aimed for Goa.

“Now they don’t know who will rule the state. Let the election get over. Right now, I might talk to someone, who might not be there tomorrow. Let things stabilise then we’ll talk about it. For last nine years, the permission came two hours just before the festival. If we get permission 24 hours before the festival, it would be an achievement. This is the way of life. Sunburn was born there, it grew up, and it just grew too big to remain there.

“Goa is a state, and during the month of December, many tourists from all over the world visit Goa. Not all of them come for Sunburn during that time. Look at the size of the roads in Goa. Honestly, they cannot handle 80,000 people a day. We’ll do stuff in Goa, which works for Goa,” added he.

Furthermore, he said that demonisation did not reflect on Sunburn 10, as in their case, if we analyse history 90 per cent of the ticket sales have been online.

"It had an impact but it had an impact to an extent. You will finally do what you want to do. We were always cashless and you can’t buy anything without the coupons. You will finally do what you want to do." He said.

Lastly, responding the last query, the visualisation ahead for Sunburn, Harindra Singh said, “We have known as one of the biggest in Asia. Being in India, numbers are easy to get, our vision is going bigger and better and go for the number one slot. My commitment to Govt of Maharashtra is you back us and we will give you No. 1 festival in the world. I am sure that we will get there.”