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Magic Of Melodies And Movies
I strongly feel that because of the potential of Indian content, the kind of directors we have and the kind of storytelling which is coming, I am very confident that our film industry will go worldwide soon, he said
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T-Series, which started off as a music company, has transformed itself into a formidable film studio today. Along with producing films independently, it has also spread its wings to produce digital content for OTT platforms recently
The bigwig of the Indian music and film industry for more than 30 years, T-Series was recently adjudged the most subscribed Indian-language YouTube channel globally. Over the years, T-Series has etched its name in popular Hindi and regional commercial music, having transformed into a 21st century multi-crore media and entertainment conglomerate.
In a freewheeling conversation with BW Businessworld, Bhushan Kumar, MD & Chairman, T Series, takes us through the many facets of the music industry, his latest releases, the impact of digital collaborations on traditional music and marketing strategies, trends to look out for and more. Excerpts:
The entertainment business seems to be making a comeback with a vengeance. Do you feel that we will be able to make up for the loss of box office collections witnessed over the last few years?
Absolutely. Films like Pushpa, KGF, RRR and now Bhool Bhulaiya have certainly given the relief that Bollywood was looking at. After Covid, everybody was dependent on OTT platforms. I want to thank the audience for showering love on Bhool Bhulaiya 2 and that has been a very good start for the entire industry, where people were feeling Indian films were working only on OTT. Bhool Bhulaiya has changed that perception and we are really looking forward to a great future in Bollywood movies.
If you had to make predictions for the next 12 months, what are some of the trends that are likely to become mainstream and bigger?
I always believe in working in the present. But I strongly feel that because of the potential of Indian content, with the kind of directors we have and the kind of storytelling which is coming, I am very confident that our film industry will go worldwide soon. There are so many films that have already crossed the bridge and done great business. The future is bright for Bollywood movies.
How are music and films being impacted by the creator economy or digital collaborations?
The music business is not impacted by digital platforms. In fact, both film and music businesses are growing with digital platforms. During the lockdown, the film industry had no way to earn money and release movies. Thanks to these OTT platforms we released 12 movies during this time.
When the movies release in theatres, the music business also grows because the audience experiences the music along with the film. We always maintained that if a film works, the music does so alongside. The same thing happens on digital platforms. An example is the music of Shershaah. The film was released on a digital platform and its music did very, very well. So digital platforms are not hurting the music or film business, they are, in fact, helping it.
But yes, in the last two years, people have identified the kind of cinema and content they wish to watch on OTT and in cinemas. Producers and creators are still figuring out what kind of films people want to see in theatres.
I have a big line of movies coming in the next four years, nearly 100 movies. There are many movies which will go for OTT release and many that will go for theatre release and then OTT.
What are some of the marketing strategies that you typically leverage for promoting your films?
First of all, content is the real king. If you have the right content, carve its first teaser which a large majority of people immediately accept. There are some things which people may like and some that they won't like. Initially, we were very depressed about how films were performing in theatres. Neither our films were doing well, nor other banners'. So we were quite stressed about whether we are doing the right kind of marketing or not. But Bhool Bhulaiya made us realise that it is the content that rules.
Our marketing essentially starts with an impactful teaser and trailer. Once we have that, we engage in the regular tactics that grab maximum eyeballs -- interviews, going to the Kapil Sharma Show, a couple of dance programmes, etc. I firmly advocate building a product that people instantly love.
As a leader, how do you keep up with the changing trends in cinema and music?
While I keep a tab on the everyday content, I am very privileged to be working with many artists exclusively. As far as music is concerned, it is too much dependent on the ear sense that people have. I have inherited a great ear sense from my father. He could judge music for the public very well.
Whenever I choose music, I don't choose it for personal taste, I choose it for the public. That kind of ear sense has helped me vouch for what kind of music can work. That thing is really helping us as a company. Melody is the king of music. Melody and lyrics are the same as they were in the 1970s, 80s or 90s. In all this time, you pick up any song that has a great melody and it has worked.
What is the next big focus area in digital for T-Series?
YouTube, for us, is very important because it has the visual medium to promote the artists. Music is consumed almost 100 per cent on digital platforms. So all these digital sites where we sell music are very important for the independent artists and for our catalogue. It has grown 10-fold since from the time we used cassettes and CDs.