'Keeping up with the ever-distracted audience is the real challenge:' Kapil Sharma


By Papri Das

When it comes to music channels in India, 9XM has managed to strike a chord with the country’s youth, and not just the urban youngsters but the majority of young adults across the country who mostly relate to Indian and Bollywood lyrics. The reason: its simplified and colloquial approach, introduction of quirky but memorable onscreen characters like Bade - Chote and Bheegi Billi along with giving marketing a more creative touch. While that was a great start, 9X Media VP Marketing, Kapil Sharma is of the opinion that the real challenge now is staying relevant to the audience in this digital age.

An out and out Mumbai boy, Sharma is a man of many interests - be it music, where he listens to a quirky combination of pop, rock, EDM, lounge, and slow Bollywood numbers; or his affinity for adventure sports, having represented his college in Water Polo tournaments.

A self-confessed animal lover, who even manages his pet’s Twitter account, Sharma finds inspiration in Mark Zuckerberg's ability to think big. Exec Lifestyle caught up with Sharma to find out what it takes to set new bench marks and trying new innovations after such a great start.


How has your journey been with 9XM?

It’s been quite a roller coaster ride with the company rising out of some very difficult times. Being a part of the core team that worked tirelessly to grow the company from a single music channel to India’s largest music network, has been a truly enriching experience. As the head of marketing, I drive marketing and PR initiatives across traditional and digital touch points and lead a team of 15 extremely talented and enthusiastic individuals. I believe work is the best, when you enjoy it. So we learn from each other, have fun and work hard.

What are the major challenges you face in marketing 9XM and how do you tackle them?

Increasing competition from multiple TV channels that ape 9XM and other 9X media channels is a major challenge. In order to differentiate ourselves from me-too brands, our focus is to constantly innovate and effectively communicate it through our brand campaigns and activations. However, we operate on shoe string budgets, so the constant challenge is to come up with engaging campaigns without spending large sums of money.

Secondly, music consumption is gradually moving online and our challenge is to stay relevant to this audience. We’re constantly working to provide our viewers with an engaging second screen experience. Live streaming of our channels on the web and mobile or building a tribe of 15+ million fans on our social media pages and driving quality engagement are some of the steps we’re taking in this direction.  

9XM has been known to grab eyeballs with its unique marketing campaigns. Can you tell us how you keep reinventing ideas?

We are constantly pushing ourselves to come up with new ideas to help entertain and engage the ever-distracted viewer. Recently, we set up a 30 feet long wall of music wherein using augmented reality, consumers could download music for free on World Music Day. This also wonus a mention in the Limca Book of Records.

We also brought together 15 of India’s leading singers and artists to perform a song for 9X Media to help convey the message - ‘Think Music, Think 9X Media.’ These are some of the marketing strategies we have adopted to stay up to date with the audience.

What new initiatives can be expect from 9XM on the marketing front?

To stay relevant with the digitally savvy youth who are glued to their mobile phones and social media, we’re working on shows that integrate TV and Twitter in realtime basis. I also feel that after our successful foray into live events with the 9XM Arijit Live with Symphony Concert in Mumbai, we aspire to do more such large format concerts in the coming months.

Tell us a little about your passions beyond work.

I am an animal lover and a social media addict. I have brought both the interests together by managing the social media profile for my pet dog. It has garnered 3,000 odd fans across Instagram, Twitter, etc for his profile. Stop what you’re doing and go follow @ShihtzuNutty on Instagram & Twitter. Apart from that, both me and my wife love traveling. One of the most scenic places we’ve been to is Santorini Island in Greece. I would love to go back there.

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