T-Series became the largest subscribed channel on YouTube in May 2019. That year, it surpassed the Swedish YouTube channel PewDiePie comfortably after crossing the 100 million mark. As on July 2019, T-Series had garnered 106 million subscribers and 76 billion views. What does this development mean for the T-Series business and the Indian music industry?
It was the late Gulshan Kumar who had founded Super Cassette Industries way back in the 80s. Before launching his company, Kumar was a fruit juice seller in Delhi.
Kumar hit his first jackpot when he bagged the music rights of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak in the late 1980s. Since then, there has been no looking back for this company which was later christened as T-Series. From selling cassettes, and CDs, this company is now majorly into digital content. The company is not only in the film music business but in the movie production business as well.
The Indian film industry can learn quite a few lessons from the T-Series success story.
T-Series has revolutionised the distribution of content. Earlier, it used to sell its products as cassettes and CDs. However, it soon realized that its music was being stolen by gray market operators and being passed on as authentic Super Cassette product.
The other lesson the company learned was that its distribution cost was directly proportional to the cost of the raw material used like plastic, etc. The margins of the company were being eroded with the rise in the raw material cost.
Bhushan Kumar, the present Chairman of the company, was quick to understand that digital was the way forward. A few years ago, he and his marketing team decided to focus their energies on distributing content via YouTube. There was little possibility of any music piracy and the company needn’t bother about raw material costs.
The rest of the Hindi film industry quickly followed suit. Today, major movie production studios like YRF, Red Chillies and Tips are all present on YouTube.
2. Bigger Audience
More people watch online videos than TV and cinema. As data costs continue to plummet, more and more people will watch online video channels like YouTube, Facebook Live and even TikTok.
T-Series was quick to notice this shift in content consumption habits and that is why this company is so active on YouTube.
The music industry needs to replicate this strategy. TV viewership among the younger generation is falling so if YRF is launching a new film, its TV trailer is not likely to be watched by a critical mass of its target audience.
It’s very hard to profitably monetize movies particularly those which have been newly launched. It is very difficult to say which movie would perform well at the box office and which ones won’t.
When T-Series puts up its music videos on YouTube, it is essentially offsetting its potential losses in movie making.
Currently, the company‘s YouTube channel has 76 billion views and if we translate this number into revenue, then T-Series would definitely be making a lot of money.
4. Faster turnaround time
T-Series can now produce a video and put it on its YouTube channel in just 24 hours. So if it is promoting a new music video, it needn’t put it on expensive TV shows that would put the show on hold until a vacant slot arises.
Having a YouTube channel helps in that you don’t have to depend upon inventory heavy TV channels. Plus, your promotion costs go down considerably. You don’t have to bother about other costs except for your staff costs which can be controlled.
All said and done, other music companies can copy the T-Series YouTube strategy only to an extent. For example, while the company can promote the music of Mukta Arts (with which it has no competition), the same can’t be said of rival music companies like YRF, Tips, and Shemaroo. The canvas of these companies on YouTube is extremely limited.
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