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In conversation with the man behind VH1 Supersonic



Talking about an unparalleled world of unadulterated sound and experience, the countdown has already begun for the fifth edition of Vh1 Supersonic. With a strong sense of belonging and great vibe, Vh1 Supersonic 2018 will feature an array of Indian and International artists perform live creating a superior experience for the music aficionados. English trio Alt-J, American electronic music group Major Lazer, American rock band Incubus, and Future bass EDM producer Marshmello will be headlining the upcoming edition of Supersonic in Pune (from February 9 to February 11) at Laxmi Lawns.

After four successful editions of creating the best of live dance music experience for its audience, LIVE Viacom18’s marquee property, Vh1 Supersonic has doubled its sponsorship value since the previous edition by partnering with brands from diverse sectors. We had a discussion with Saugato Bhowmik, Head of Live Viacom18 and Consumer Products, on Live Viacom18’s approach towards the music industry, the partnership with brands and music creators, understanding the necessity of brands, market dynamics and more. Read on.

“We have always brought the most loved and talented artists to our festival and we are delighted to bring Major Lazer back. We will continue to make our super fans happy as we have plenty more up our sleeves for the fifth edition.” 

Question: How would you describe Live Viacom 18’s approach towards the music industry?

In a very short span, we have reached to a stage that, our philosophy is to focus on quality, not quantity, focus on experience, not numbers, focus on curation, and involve audiences rather than just filling up shows. We believe in creating brands and we believe in creating outstanding experiences. It is a slow process, as there is a lack of opportunity, lack of variety, the audience have failed to experience the better. Rather than doing ten events in a year, we’ll do one event that will be worth all the efforts. Our objective is to expose the Indian audience to the kind of music, the kind of experience at Vh1 Supersonic like no other.

Question: The mainstream audience is tending towards overseas artistes. What steps should we take to see the same excitement for our homegrown artists?

India is not yet on the international tour map, however, it is beginning to show up, and the demand is much higher than the supply is. Also, we can’t deny the fact that India is predominantly a Bollywood country and film music is everywhere. I wouldn’t see that as a problem since a very large number of music lovers are inclined to the multi-genre material. There is no such thing called solar techno fan only, there is no such thing called solar EDM or pop fan only. 99% audience is hooked on to different kinds of music. The exposure to the Indian artists is yet not so high. When it is about ticket pricing, only a few Indian artists can command that kind of worth.  You get to see one international artist once in a year, whereas, you can get to see an Indian artist multiple times in a year.

Question: What are the parameters before you put the money in the business? 

The key parameter is, of course, music. The major factor is to represent the most well-curated, diverse, multi-genre music festival. From the revenue standpoint, as we are doing the business, it is our responsibility to make sure that the heavy investment we make is recovered by the revenue, from partners, tickets sell, FnB sales, and sponsors.

Question: How essential is it to have the understanding of brand equity, market-changing aspects and more while curating a music festival of such a magnitude?

We have created a channel for brands to reach their onlookers, primarily. Any music festival or live concert is a great way to engage the youth of India, who are craving international music, along with an experience. Which brand doesn’t want to reach the youth audience of India? Youth is the largest demographic in the country this is the market for every brand. When we come across as a powerful medium to interact with the youth not just reach them, the brands will be interacting with the youth the same way. To engage and interact, you need to get them on the ground. That’s where we stand!

Question: If you could tell us the agenda before opting for a brand and statistics behind the marketing programs.

We have always had a clear list of brands we want to partner with. This year also we are carefully curating what brands we are getting on board and what we are going to do together. I am not going to partner with a brand which doesn’t resonate well with ours, also at the same time, the brands wouldn’t correlate if the attributes are not relevant. The agenda should be same.

It is difficult to give the exact statistics as that’s not attractive. Marketing plans in terms of scope, intensity, duration, is going to be way larger than any other music festival brand, concert brands, and any other music event in the country. No other music concert will have anything close to the kind of quantum or intensity or duration of marketing that we are going to put out there for next few months.

Question: What is the share of revenue generated through sponsors? Where does Viacom 18 see these associations reaching? 

To be honest, the share of revenue varies every year. Sponsorship of music festivals is an increasingly attractive way for brands to bond with the target audience and build their brand image too. Mostly, 70-75% of the revenue comes from sponsorship; a very large portion derives from ticketing too.

Seeing the increase in the number of high-grade international artists coming to India, our job is to work on that and bring more. We want to enclose our audiences with the best possible way of expression of Vh1 as a channel.

VH1 Supersonic

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