Music in the digital space – monetisation, brand collaborations & more

Experiencing a sudden boom in the recent years, the digital space plays a very important role in the music scene where talent is discovered by big labels, digital agencies and brands.

In an exclusive interview with Music Plus, Gurpreet Singh, Co-founder, One Digital Entertainment, sheds light on the importance of building artists into brands themselves, the role of digital platforms in shaping that brand and the dynamics of these platforms.

One Digital Entertainment, one of the biggest digital platforms in India, scouts, identifies and shapes talent from across various entertainment genres by providing them with the required logistical and creative support.

“We are primarily a creator’s network. We work with creators where music is everyone’s background. We started the company so that independent musicians who didn’t have a strong backing, receive the guidance to shape their careers through the online medium. These artists struggle to get the opportunity and we partner with them to help them get their content out, market it, build their own brand and be effectively monetised. This is not a transactional base for us, but it’s more of a long term vision game”, said Singh.

Ellaborating on the role played by the digital platform, Singh added,

“We are not aggregators. We are content creators and a brand-building company. We’re just like an artist management company where I sit with the artists and plan their content for the next two years along with their brand collaborations. Now, if I were an aggregator, then I wouldn’t bother about the content. We work hand in hand with the artists.”

In a world where nothing lasts forever, artists are now more under pressure to produce quality content on a regular basis. But understanding the complex digital space isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Hence, the digital agencies play a vital role in content creation. The success of the artists is of utmost importance for these agencies, the bigger the artists get, the agencies, too, get a bigger pay check.

“As and when the artists make money, we get a share of their profits. We team with global leaders, so once we collaborated with Al Gore, the former US Vice-President, who was campaigning for a UN programme. They wanted an influencer who could pass on the message to the masses. So we brought in Raftaar who had a substantial following on YouTube by then and instead of making him just talk about it, he was more excited to do a song about it and at the end of the song, he had a message to share. This was a paid commercial deal”, explained Singh.

It is not only content that is handled by the digital platforms, but also the collaborations with brands which generates revenue for the artists. According to Singh, there are different ways in which brands collaborate with artists. There are brands which are happy with just putting their logo out. Some want effective integration of their product in the video, in a more contextual way. Others want pure jingles. Some want commercial songs which can be played in clubs, some lyrical reference. There are multiple ways to integrate with brands.

This chase for popular artists by brands has made this business a rather profitable one. When asked about the current industry rate for such collaborations, Singh said,

“The money is not bad. I think music is one of the top paying brackets in the digital place. How much you get paid depends on your fan following and how big you are. An artist who has a decent fan following on YouTube but is not a big name, the rates can vary from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2 crores. There are clients who are willing to pay that kind of money for digital integrations.”

The digital space has revolutionised the way in which an artist now earns his pay check. However, understanding this space is still at a nascent level. Citing YouTube as an example, Singh explains,

“The Indian music industry, including the artists, doesn’t know how YouTube can help make money. YouTube has a very simple logic, if you are popular on YouTube with high viewership numbers and quality content, there is an algorithm which captures this data into an inventory with the help of ad words. YouTube pays the artists for the views which have been monetised. How can YouTube pay you, if it hasn’t earned for itself”

Digging deeper, he further explained how brands bidding on videos to play their ads also increases the popularity and monetisation of the content. He added,

“Bidding rate is one of the factors which is important when it comes to YouTube. Brands bid against each other on your video if it has gained high viewership. Some brands bid on the basis of per view on a video. The more the brands bid against each other, the rates go up which will benefit YouTube and the artist as well. Now, brands target certain channels on YouTube (also called road-blocking) with high viewership for a certain period of time and YouTube is paid premium rates for the same. Brands take the call where they have to target their ads”

Even though all looks hunky dory for artists and the music industry at large, the reality is far from it. Singh opined that there are debates that artists should get paid more on YouTube but it’s a slow process.

“Brands have begun pouring in bigger budgets on digital platforms which will eventually better the situation. However, one cannot ignore the fact that the reach you get from a platform like YouTube is unbeatable. The talent that has been discovered through this platform is mind-blowing,” Singh said.

At the heart of everything, content is what really matters. Singh, a firm believer in the creation of quality content and pure talent, advises artists and content creators alike,

“No matter what you do, if your content isn’t good, nothing would sell. Adding to that, consistency in putting out fresh content also matters in building a strong brand.”

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