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“I don’t see growth beyond a point in the music industry”: Neeraj Vyas

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The music industry has had a lot to celebrate this year. If we look at Sony Mix, I am happy to say that we have set a record; the music channel was a leader for 52 weeks in a row and for a three-year old to achieve this, is remarkable.

We have set our niche and made it stronger through the years. We are now labelled as a channel which understands the nuances of musical play out, we know what to play at what time and at what tempo. Mix is a channel that probably understands melody more than anybody else.

I think we have now happily established ourselves as a melodious channel and whether we remain number one or two is irrelevant. Ups and downs will happen and we have to be ready for it as it is a part and parcel of the industry.

What we have managed to do and what makes me happy is the fact that we have led a change. Previously, the entire genre was a trade genre where people just played free music and movie trailers. But I think, Mix can take a lot of pleasure in saying that it has brought back musicality in the genre. And today a lot of people are trying to do what Mix is doing.

The only desire, we as an industry have, is to better our rates in terms of what we sell at. We would be a lot more profitable if we don’t just remain frequency buying options for advertisers. And we would become a lot more relevant if we produced better content and not just play music back-to-back.

Also, I don’t see growth beyond a point for the entire music industry. I think we are still around 125-130 GRP mark and we all have a long way to go. But time spent is also an issue. People watch music channels for 4 to 5 minutes a day which is not optimal. The reality is that we need to monetise better and that needs to be a goal for all of us going forward because we are still extremely critical to a media plan. There is a general entertainment channel (GEC) and Hindi feature film genre and after that if one wants to capture the Hindi heartland, then they have only two options - music or news. And with 6 per cent share of the overall pie, we should be charging a lot more and getting a lot more.

But unfortunately, music channels have historically been undersold and have become a frequency option. I think that needs to be cleaned up as fast as possible. 2014 has not seen much change in the music industry. We all depend on labels to provide us music.

A significant learning that we have acquired in 2014 from our audiences is that retro songs still hold a strong relevance. And the trend will only grow. Our own retro brand has shown a growth in certain key markets. Retro, overall, even on other channels has grown. It is not that everybody is watching a music channel is the so-called youth. There is a large cross section of people that come in to sample good music. Getting the right mix across the right day parts is the challenge going forward. Melodies of the past will never go out of fashion. Item songs can be a good tadka, but they cannot be your main staple.

However, unfortunately not much has happened in the genre beyond a point. I don’t think anybody has created anything different apart from Mix, which has and will continue to experiment.

(These are purely personal views of Sony Mix, Max and Max 2 senior EVP and business head Neeraj Vyas and indiantelevision.com does not necessarily subscribe to these views.)

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