| 19 Jun 2024
Music television never felt so good: Luke Kenny is an online industry platform which carries various voices. This piece is written by 9XO Channel Head, Luke Kenny, where he talks about 9XO and its evolution over the last two years.

MUMBAI: A large part of my ‘career’ has been intrinsic with Music as a whole. The Music Industry as engagement, and Music Television in particular.

So back in 2011 when I was presented with the opportunity by 9X MEDIA to set up an International music channel with complete freedom, I leapt at the fortunate chance of being able to do all that had not been done (given my eventful time with Bollywood music in the past) within the International music TV sphere.

So there I was, sitting in a corporate office, letting the creative juices flow and getting ready to rock n roll. One of the obvious efforts that needed to be made was to reference what the other players (whom I was already familiar with) in the market were doing. Fortunately there were/are not too many, so that effort went off smooth and yielded quick results.

Now that I knew what I definitely did not want to do, and the kind of experience that was needed to be created for the viewer, the vision began to get stronger.

A team was needed that would share the process that went into the running of a music TV channel; the music programming, the scheduling, the creatives and the execution of such. So having worked in the industry for awhile, I drew on prior experience, contacts and knowledge of potential candidates who would fit the profiles. Some were found swiftly and some took some searching. But soon a strong team was assembled and we were ready to go.

But not so soon, the team was in place but now content needed to be worked upon.

So my vision for the channel was an uncluttered viewing experience for the 15-24 target audience who were already distracted by social media and the internet. One of the exercises we employed was to touch base with the youth and find out what would ‘they’ want from an international music TV channel today. Surprisingly (well, not really), the consensus was that they wanted to watch ‘music’ and not be disturbed by non-music content. So, reality shows, video jockeys, alienating music blocks and non-music lifestyle related shows etc, went out the window.

This was a pleasant revelation which made programming the channel a bit more streamlined and the team was able to have even more clarity on the way forward.

And along with that, past years of experience and vigilant monitoring of the markets and trade, have led us to believe that experience is everything when it comes to a target audience resonating with a no-nonsense brand.

This in turn has been a boon for the channel as various factions of the trade and media, which have experienced the channel, have come forward with appropriate support and investment. Not to mention a humbling appreciation of the same.

The next step was procuring the content. Labels were spoken to, relationships were leveraged and dialogues were had. There was a general happy relief that a channel was being set up that focussed on the music itself and did not succumb to manipulative programming for the sake of it. And more importantly, it was being done by people who knew the market and their music.

So, a qualitative curation was set into motion that looked at a mix of the current Hits, upcoming artists that needed the support and most importantly, the discovery of new music and relevant breakthrough artists.

And yes, a definite focus on honouring the classic greats of yester year via Anniversary celebrations and remembrances. This added a bit of throwback to the iconic times gone by. The youth are always living in the present, so their music is always what is in the now. So also 9XO always lives and breathes in what is the current phenomenon, which is why it was imperative that the channel be seen and distributed amongst the demographic zones where our audiences lay.

In this case it was important to be available across all digital formats in all the key metros at the onset. A special focus on some of the smaller aspirational cities was equally imperative, as we believed that the core crossover potential of loyal audiences will come from these aspirational cities.

And over the past two years we have been fortunate to be present on most of the major and minor digital and cable operators across the country, which has given us a good amount of visibility and loyalty amongst our audiences.

Now that we were up and running, it was of import that we remain engaging and interactive with our viewers via our on air content, our social engagement and our viral interaction.And in due course apart from the appreciation that we received on our music mix and programming, our loyal viewers have been happy with the fact that they have a contributive voice via our social media and the various interactions that the channel keeps activating.

So, whether it is our unique Twitter based countdown- ‘Tweetdown’, our dance music initiative ‘Dance on!!’, or our artist specific special programming (ONE DIRECTION DAY), in addition to the freshest music videos that we keep breaking, their response has been valuable to the channel in constantly being reflective of their opinions.

And as we recently celebrated two years of being on air as a premier 100 per cent quality international music channel, we have come to believe, and happily so, that the journey has only just begun and we only have our loyal viewers to thank for that.