| 15 Jul 2024
Podcasts are to engage, empower and educate and a great way to put your voice out using a digital medium: Padma Priya, Suno India

MUMBAI: While we all know about radio stations and their radio jocks, very little is known about podcasts and podcasters. “Podcast is essentially a great way to put your voice out using a digital medium. We are the one who create podcasts. It’s a team effort beyond anything else,” says Suno India founder Padma Priya, who recently spoke whole heartedly about her podcast venture, which is just four months old. After talking on some remarkable pointers about podcasts, Priya talked about Suno India, podcasting in India and more in an exclusive interview with Radioandmusic.

Can you tell us about your podcast venture, Suno India?

It’s a podcast platform for issues that matter and with internet becoming so cheap in India; I think that it is going to grow rapidly. Also, with people’s attention span being divided and they literally being forced between social media and TV, a point will come when people will want to slow down, find good content, which will educate them. The way, I look at podcasts, especially at Suno India is like Shah Rukh Khan says - there are three Es – Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment. Similarly, for us, podcasts are to engage, empower and educate.

Can you tell us three things that make Podcasts content intriguing for audience?

I think having a really good story, a solid foundation in terms of research and actually finding those people, who have lived those experiences. Nothing makes a greater impact than lived experiences of people, who have gone through the trials and tribulations in life. So, for me, the core of any good podcast is the person, story, and the kind of research that is going into it.

Suno India talks about issues of people. How has the response been?

The response has actually been fantastic. We are just four months old. Our first podcast called Dear Pari, which is on child adoption in India, has garnered over ten thousand listeners already. We have listeners coming from all over the country and abroad as well (US, Europe). In terms of reactions received, I think people really appreciate that there is a place, where they can just go, listen and understand the issue from a very different perspective and with this podcast; we have taken people into the rooms and lives of families who adopt.

Our second podcast, which we are doing in collaboration with Factly, a data journalism website, is called Every Vote Matters and we have taken on the hard task of breaking down, ‘why yours and my vote matters’. It actually aims to take people through behind the scenes of Indian elections, where does the vote come from; from the history of your vote to what is an electoral voting machine, what is the model code of conduct, where does the candidate get the money from. These conversations are really not happening in the mainstream as much as they should. And I think if you and I have to vote responsibly, we should be aware of this. This is what we are trying to do with Every Vote Matters.

You have been just four months old now. Can you tell us about the financial investment?

So far, we have been pretty much self-funded, but we also have an account on Patreon. Friends and family are supporting us by doing a monthly contribution and we hope that in the near future, people, be it listeners also, can start contributing to our website directly. So far, we are trying to be as independent as we can. We hope that we can grow and stay independent.

Do you want to be independent, or you want government to support you?

I would like to stay independent, but funded through grants, like-minded individuals and organisations because if you take government funding then that’s subjected to sort of criticism policies. For example, Swachch Bharat worked in some parts of Uttar Pradesh, while there are parts and pockets where it’s not working. Therefore, like if you don’t want media to become lapdogs, but want them to remain as watchdogs then it’s the duty of audiences to help us stay independent.

Can you tell us about the licensing policy for podcasts?

Podcasting doesn’t require licensing like radio. It’s on the digital platform and as long as you can do responsible work and you are not using the platform to dissect communal hatred or to spread fake news, it’s great. I think, every platform offers opportunity and that’s the beauty of digital space.

What are the audio and music rights, you have to cater to?

Well, for our first podcast, Dear Pari, we had used original music, which was composed by Nikhil Rao of Indian Ocean, which hee generously had offered us. For Every Vote Matters, we are using Creative Commons music, so again there is lot’s available in the market, where we can use things for free using Creative Commons licensing. The only thing you have to ensure is that they being acknowledged in your podcasts or wherever you are putting it out.

You had said about not competing with radio but are there any challenges faced and strategies, you guys have implemented to survive in the market?

I believe in the power of collaboration, partnerships and going forward, this is what we at Suno India really want to do. We want to collaborate with journalists, people who are working on-ground at the grassroots. We want them to use our platform to put their voice out. In terms of funding, let’s see.

How is Suno India trying to create awareness on your part about podcasts in India?

You are right! There is a lack of awareness about podcasts in India. So, we will be soon going to colleges and talking to people about podcasting and how to create a podcast because it is very simple. The beauty of podcasts is that the entry barrier is pretty low. So, that’s something, we have planned out. We are going to start talking to people about podcasts, its beauty and why they should become podcasters.

According to you, what qualities are required to become a good podcaster?

Be curious, be open-minded, be able to research, and go beyond what a person is telling you. Know that there is always a story beyond one side of a coin. These are the good qualities; I would be looking in a good podcaster. The ability to bring those stories, connect the dots and provide your listeners the full picture.