| 23 May 2024
Where do Music channels stand in the digital age?

MUMBAI: Way before every teenager had access to a personalised handheld device and worldwide web, existed a time when youngsters had to schedule their study time before they could surf channels for latest music. With evolution, came the digital age and the audience swiftly moved their attention to it. This shift caused dip in the presence of music channels.

In the recent past Channel V and UTV Bindass two prime channel saw an abysmal report and got shut. But still channels like Mastiii, 9XM, MTV and its allied channels are on air and going well, if not strong. When television came in, people predicted radio will be redundant, however that never happened, in fact it is still strong in grassroot areas. The same cant be said about television channels, considering the advent of music apps, YouTube and digitisation in general.

According to a Broadcast Audience Research Council’s last report, the top ten music channels include Mastiii, 9XM, B4U Music, Sony Mix and many more. With Mastiii being on the top with 165473 (in ooo’s) and VH 1 with lowest of meagre 346 (in ooo’s) impressions. VH 1, mostly known for its international music playlist, has been at the low rung for a while.

MTV Beats Head of Youth Ferzad Palia sees a positive side to this concern as he thinks that music genre in general is growing-be it digital or channels. According to him, music genre has scaled 60 per cent over the year and both digital and TV medium are co-existing.

Content is the key differentiator in every competition. Sensing the change in offing, MTV, one of the two phenomenal music channels of 90’s, rebranded itself as an entertainment channel and aired some non-music content like Roadies, Spiltsvilla and thus audience got diversified. Channel V, came in a little late in 2015 had discontinued music programming and focused on dailies or reality shows, however with no overwhelming response, it went back to music programming.

Also, despite Bollywood music or even independent music having a wide reach, regional music has wider reach. Though every channel has a sister concern in every region, Radio is the first choice and now with deep penetration of handheld devices, digital medium is much sought after. Airtel’s Wynk recently reported over 100 per cent spike in streaming of regional music, a phenomenon by itself.

Drawing parallels, these music channels brought many faces to the entertainment industry in form of Video Jockeys, mascots, and gave platform to many homegrown artistes, while streaming apps or platforms like YouTube are mentors to zillions today, giving an equal opportunity to every talent.

The biggest revenues for both the mediums have been advertisers. The segments stay the same, FMCG, Hospitality, Telecom. While TV Channels have a pre-decided capsule of 12 minute for advertising, Digital platforms are not that stringent, hence the influx of advertisers are far more for digital platforms.

The pertinent question is that in an age of digital apps, streaming platforms and still ruling radio channels, are 24 hour music channels still relevant? What keeps these channels alive and kicking is the unique content generated, and Intellectual Properties like MTV had Coke Studio, now MTV Unplugged and MTV Beats has a reality show announced called MTV Beats Discover, curated specially for cover singers. With innovative content, MTV Beats managed a viewership with 118 per cent growth by the end of 2017.Although the episodes of Coke Studio or Unplugged are available on YouTube, the thrill of catching of the episode gives the channel an edge.

To sustain the competition, channels will have to create content and constantly innovate.