RadioandMusic
| 12 Jun 2021
Soumini Sridhara Paul on Artist Aloud completing 11 years; reveals milestone achievements, challenges, future ahead and much more

Hungama Artist Aloud, a platform that supports and promotes independent content, recently forayed into independent content distribution and artist representation in regional languages. The platform has signed-up artists across Punjabi, Tamil, Marathi, Bengali, Bhojpuri and Gujarati.

Celebrating its 11th anniversary this year, the platform furthermore also intends to initiate content creation, distribution and artist representation in other Indian languages like Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Assamese, Haryanvi etc.

The platform has been well portraying itself, promoting and helping indie artists grow. It has achieved great heights and played a huge role in the lives of many. Let’s see how. Check interview below with Artist Aloud VP Soumini Sridhara Paul.

Excerpts.

What have been some of the major highlights/ milestone achievements in all these years that you are proud of?

2020 was a mix of different emotions. For the first time in the industry, we saw artists that we work with or even from the industry come together on the same level; where popularity didn’t matter much.  It was quite a humble moment to witness in the trying times. However, as a company, we were able to pull up our socks and be extremely productive. Being a digital company made us a little more self-reliant. As they say necessity is the mother of invention, we explored various interesting formats. We had interesting IPs based around curating an entertaining, intimate yet shared virtual experience and a lot of the credit goes to the artists who agreed to come on board with ease.  

In the past decade, since we launched in 2010, transformation has been the constant companion of Artist Aloud. We've never rested. We've never felt that we've arrived or this was all that we can do. I think we keep adding feathers to our cap. We launched with a simple intention of aggregating content and distributing it to Hungama's network and that continues to be the mainstay or the main entry point for the artists that we interact with. That said, in every two or three years, we kept on expanding. As the industry evolved, I think the ecosystem that we were building was tilted in the direction where the industry was going or where the entire space of independent talent and music was headed.

While some proved successful others couldn't reach the point that we wanted. However, the biggest milestone that testifies our strong hold for the past 10 years would be McDowell's No.1 Soda No1YaariJam in November 2019.

Partnerships and IPs

Our partnership with McDowell's, Hard Rock Cafe, and our Music Awards, amongst other IPs reflects our distribution prowess, strong talent alliances via Hungama, our understanding of the industry and the audience. Now we are focusing on expanding our business to fresh avenues with exciting projects. We have launched a refined awards property called Indian

Independent Music Awards (IIMA), which will bring the entire industry together. And that is a manifestation of the independent category not being limited to an artist or a label, rather originality. It's about self-expression, and it's about an artist putting out something which will give them a chance to build their brand their way.

What were the major challenges the platform faced in 2020? How did you overcome those?

I think the challenges were pretty much the same for everyone. One big challenge was not being able to work as a team face-to-face. The other was, of course, not being able to do events or even engage with artists the way we were doing. The best part was that we didn't pull back or wait for things to get better. We deep dived into some of the ideas that we had and started exploring more avenues and opportunities that helped us keep ourselves above the water. I think we have sailed through 2020 alive, and that says it all.

The world has now got used to the new normal. Artists are now doing virtual gigs. What are your thoughts on this? How is it going to be easy/difficult for them and us?

We have seen quite a few artists, who've been doing it for free on Facebook. It started with corporate gigs, sitting at their house or maybe in their studio. I think that that's good because if you are an independent artist, then you need to be able to connect with your fans and fans connect with you for what you are and the way you are.

Plans for 2021?

One of the things is obviously to do the grand finale of IIMA that's going to happen soon. Besides that we aim to be an all-encompassing independent ecosystem. Now we've been able to give it a face and give it a direction. And IIMA is going to be a huge component of that. Besides that, we are also presenting strong marketing offerings to our artists. We want to really support every artist that wants to put his or her content out. Therefore, we have made distribution completely free. Obviously, Hungama brings the best of the platforms to distribute content. Artists want to build awareness of themselves and create larger content campaigns; just like Bollywood, everything needs to have some kind of promotion for it to fit or to break.  So, one of the things in 2021 we are focusing on is how can we increase that marketing bucket offering, so that we can create more value for the artists.

Aside Artist Aloud, Soumini Sridhara Paul also spearheaded Hungama Kids app. Hungama Kids is a platform for kids, parents, and teachers to access content created and curated specifically for them. The destination will provide a comprehensive learning experience for children of all age-groups, teachers, and parents by offering relevant and targeted content across diverse academic and parental topics.