Launched in 2007, the electronic dance music festival Sunburn is one of the first intellectual properties of Percept. Over time, India’s music festival market has grown massively and the cosmopolitan youth populace adore all genres and styles of music. After completing ten successful years, the 11th edition of Sunburn (28-31 December 2017, Pune) will feature DJ Snake, Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Clean Bandit, and some of the finest homegrown artists.
We spoke to Harindra Singh, who will now be in charge of Percept Group on Sunburn’s upcoming edition, Sunburn’s approach towards the music industry, the partnership with brands, understanding the necessity of brands, market-changing aspects and more.
“Doing music events in India is extremely challenging. Being pioneers in the Indian market in the EDM space we realised that this genre of music clearly had an edge and is appealing to a wider audience as there are no or little lyrics. Keeping this in mind we have designed products exclusively targeted at each audience segment. In a country where language changes every 100 kilometres, we realised we need to play music that is language neutral. Sunburn has come a long way and is ranked amongst the top 3 globally attended festivals. We have also brought down multiple music franchises to India keeping in mind the demand in the Indian market and the latest trends in music consumed by audiences.”
Apart from Sunburn, Percept’s vision and effort in the Music IP industry includes Bollyboom (featured popular Bollywood music artists), FLY (hosted ED Sheeran in the past), and Eat Play Love (food, fashion & music festival) has always been to innovate, be the trendsetter and leader in this domain.
Discussing brands, gauging the dynamic, and ever-evolving consumer pulse, Harindra shared that innovation is vital before they conceptualise and put their money into a new music IP or edition.
“Brand Sunburn associates itself with the latest and the best. It has changed a lot in the last ten years and we keep shifting the needle depending on how consumer tastes are evolving. Sunburn has offered a blend of experiential and technology based activities along with a mix of online and on-ground marketing for all the brands associated with us over the past years. Brands have definitely opened their eyes to new media marketing opportunities and the sponsorship space has opened up vastly. As of today more brands are expressing a desire to associate with Sunburn through engaging ground and digital activities that add to both the brand and the customer experience at Sunburn.”
According to Singh, it is quite scientific as they have a constant online exercise to monitor and study music preferences, what is shared and what videos are trending. That is how they pick, program and curate. Over the past five years, leading lifestyle and consumer brands have associated with Sunburn as a powerful marketing channel to successfully see a substantial increase in both their engagement and sales numbers.
In the Indian scenario, revenue from brand sponsorships is a major source of sustaining the properties from a long-term perspective. The Indian markets in terms of ticketing differ from international markets drastically but are surely evolving.
“Brand buy-in still remains to be one of the major sources of revenue for Live events in the country. With a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 90% over the last four years, Sunburn’s sponsorship revenue in FY’17 stood at INR 100 Crores. Given our in-depth research on market dynamics, brand and consumer needs, we intend to double in magnitude and numbers from 750,000 to reach 1.4 million fans via amplification of engagement and events by targeting more markets across India and overseas.”
This year, yet again Sunburn Festival is in controversy with social activists protesting against the festival being held in Pimpri Chinchwad. Continuing the discussion, Harindra disclosed that the festival has complied with all legal, statutory, safety and security guidelines placed and currently the Sunburn co-officials are in constant contact with various government authorities.
“We hope to close that soon. All required permissions will be applied once the plans are finalised. Often people misunderstand what we are trying to do, then it becomes our responsibility to educate what we truly represent. We have always strictly followed the laws and it has always been our top priority to provide a safe and secure environment for our fans. Having said that, it is clarified that all ticket bookings, are subject to government permissions and the event will only take place if all the required permissions are obtained.”
As sponsorship of music festivals is an increasingly attractive way for brands to bond with the target audience and build their brand image, discussing it Singh stated that last year Sunburn 10 saw over 700,000 aggregate attendance across all the events and sponsorship generates approximately 50% of the revenues for Sunburn.
“This figure is expected to climb in the years ahead as more and more partner brands see value and ROI in associating with this iconic aspirational global lifestyle brand. We received an amazing amount of support from our sponsors and transitioned the brand into more of a new media asset for the youth.”
Harindra believes it is natural for audiences to crave for International artists and their global stature, ranking, chart-topping music and popularity. However, he admitted that home-grown talent is slowly but surely being recognized internationally. Many popular domestic EDM artists debuted at the Sunburn Festival stage and have grown from strength to strength thereon.
“While Indian DJs are still seriously influenced by the content and performances of the successful international DJs, there will come a day when that one Indian DJ will create a global impact. Talents such as Nucleya, Shaan, Zaeden, Arjun Vagale, Chetas, Anish Sood, Sartek and Lost Stories not only command a massive fan following in India but have also gone ahead to make a mark on the International EDM music map. It’s very heartening to see talented Domestic Artists like DJ Chetas and Lost Stories rank in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJs list.”
In terms of line-ups, they have worked with the best in the business, and have brought down most of the world’s leading artists to India such as Martin Garrix, Hardwell, Tiesto, David Guetta, Avicii, Chainsmokers, SHM, Axwell, Armin and Afrojack.
For the 2018 Sunburn edition brands like OLA, Renault, OPPO, Kingfisher, Sky Bags and SpiceJet are already signed and some more will come on board soon. Sunburn is also planning to introduce new formats like U21 which is completely targeted to the youth Under 21 age bracket as the name suggests. These shows will be held at more accessible venues and the tickets will be reasonably priced. Experiencing Sunburn U21 will similar to the cost of going just another outing i.e., a movie or a meal. Confident that this format will tap into a new audience segment altogether and achieve really massive numbers, they are planning to target the youth across Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Founded in 1984, Percept Limited, a media, entertainment and live events organisation has a team of over 700 people and 42 offices in India and the Middle East. As Shailendra Singh has stepped down as joint MD of Percept Group in March 2017, Percept is beholding a management rejigger as Harindra Singh is taking full control of Percept Group post a private settlement.