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Live events in India need huge impetus from government

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MUMBAI: In order to discuss the long road ahead in making India a productive profit centre in the global live event landscape, a session dedicated to the same was conducted on the final day of FICCI Frames 2015 held in Mumbai.

With a vision to wash away the red tape and enable business environment, the discussion was led by a panel comprising entrepreneurs like Cineyug director Mohammad Morani, OML CEO and founder Vijay Nair, Ice Global owner Sushma Gaekwad, Viacom18 INS Jaideep Singh, Coca Cola India VP - marketing Debu Mukherjee and Percept joint MD Shailendra Singh. The session was moderated by anchor Mini Mathur.

Gaekwad kick-started the discussion by saying that issues relating to licensing norms and taxation policies amongst others needed to be sorted out. “We have to sort out these issues. There is a lot of work ahead of us but yet the industry has the potential to grow,” she said.

Gaekwad believes that the industry has taken the first step in sorting everything out and like-minded bunch of entrepreneurs have started coming together as an association. “Earlier each business was of its own, but now as an association, we can sort issues that each of us bring to the table.”

Percept’s Singh went on to add that almost 58 per cent of India’s population was below the age of 25 years and the young population is extremely restless and has tremendous amount of energy. “What young people need in today’s time is entertainment. Live entertainment is a very serious business, but the government has never understood the industry and has not taken it seriously. One can’t even imagine that how much business the industry can bring, how many job opportunities it can create and how well it can entertain. We are deprived as a country for live entertainment just because the Government doesn't believe that this industry should be taken seriously,” he opined.

For Festival curator Nikhil Chinappa, making the sense of 1.25 million population in the country is the biggest concern. He believes that in the space, the numbers are vast and so are the opportunities. “Even though we are talking about the opportunities, but we need to know whether there are more people buying tickets or are the same people trying to buy different tickets again and again?”

Answering his own question, he replied saying that research indicated that there are no new people, who buy tickets but the same ones who are interested in buying always.

Agreeing with Chinappa, Singh continued to say that in this sector, it has not been able to harness new members in the industry. “We can only grab eyeballs of the newbies by our strong business models and that is going to lead the success path,” he said.

Picking up to what Gaekwad pinpointed on the licensing part, Nair feels that Maharashtra has been left behind when it comes to licensing policies. “If an artist is performing at the same venue for 10 times in a year, he has to apply for licenses all the time, which is not needed. Moreover, the situation is going to get worse with the new laws coming in. For example, 14 per cent of service tax has been added to buy tickets.”

 

Percept’s Singh believes that everything in the society happens from top down. “If there is a ministry sitting at the top to look at these issues at the forefront, then why are we begging in front of them? They have to understand that this is the need of the new Indian. Young India wants entertainment. Why should we pay the price or suffer?” he questioned.

He further said that it is impossible to make money in live entertainment today. “The opportunity that live events provide is massive. When will the government understand this?” he further lamented.

On the other hand, Viacom18’s Singh believes that the government alone cannot be blamed alone because the onus lies on the entrepreneurs, who are working in this space too. “I believe that this should come from top, but we are also equally responsible for it maybe because we are not pushing it or fighting enough for it. We need to put our business propositions together and fight for it right up there. We need to prove our might with numbers, which they are not seeing right now.”

Mathur questions, “Are we doing enough as an industry?” To which, Gaekwad responded that the fraternity has taken the first step by coming together and working towards it and is confident that by next year it will be talking a different language. But she also believed that currently there is a lack of vision, which needs to be improved. “It is not only about the local spender but also about the international spender.”

Talking about the industry’s future, Chinappa stated that to him vision is accessibility. “If you want the music and dance industry to grow, one needs to ensure that it is easily accessible for people and that can happen best through social media platforms. Digital platforms are the best mediums where people can share and exchange ideas,” he said.

Viacom18’s Singh further revealed that brands too have been taking the industry very seriously. Where there is reach, there are brands. According to him, in the first year it got close to 10 - 12 brands on board, whereas the second year saw some improvement with close to 25 brands. What’s more, the third year saw a fantastic response with about 60 brands coming on-board.

Throwing light on the solutions to make the industry more profitable, Percept’s Singh said that the market will grow where there is a sense of security. To top it all, the three E-formulas will always work wonders - educate the market, empower and entertain the consumers.

The session concluded with each of them focusing on issues like making music more available and accessible to people, strong compelling business to generate numbers, collaborate and work together as an association for faster progress and yet be competitive by focusing on the consumer’s need.

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