‘The way music is driving trends in SFV is transformative for the music industry’, says Facebook India (Meta’s) Paras Sharma

Recently, Instagram India launched a collection of #1MinMusic from 200 artists across the country for exclusive use on Reels and Stories in a bid to level up the platform’s short form video creation. Incidentally, Reels has also been a global stage for music and artist discovery in the country ever since its launch. With approximately 230 million users, India is the largest market for Instagram and there are reportedly, six million reels created daily.

In a recent interview with Business Today, the company revealed they’re running tests to explore ad supported revenue opportunities with enabling payments through DM being the latest. Now Music Plus has an exclusive chat with Paras Sharma, Director and Head of Content and Community Partnerships at Facebook India (Meta) to understand the role of Indian music in the platform’s way forward.

Director and Head of Content and Community Partnerships at Facebook India (Meta), what is your vision for the next few months?

Our users and our partners are the center of everything we do and we view it as our job to build for them. It is equally important for us to get our partners, such as creators and media companies, to get the most value for their content.

Reels is a big priority for us, and we continue to see people embracing Reels as a means to express, create and consume entertaining content. In India, Reels has transformed the way content is created and consumed on Instagram and given rise to a whole new wave of creators from all across India. Since the launch of Reels, we’re seeing a greater set of regional trends emerging from regional languages and from smaller towns. Reels today is a reflection of ‘Bharat’, and our focus is to continue building the creation and creator ecosystem. 

At the India Mobile Congress, you said that Meta is committed to growing the creator ecosystem by building sustainable economic value for creators. What sort of role does music play in these plans?

Music aids expression, creation and triggers engagement. For these reasons, music is very important to our users and creators and hence, important for us.

We work with a wide variety of stakeholders from the music ecosystem to ensure that we provide deep and wide coverage. These include T-Series, Zee Music, Speeds Records, Saregama, Times Music, Yash Raj Music, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner and other national and regional labels. Likewise, we work with various music distribution and artist companies like Believe Digital, Merlin, Silver Tree, Hungama Digital, EYP, Desi Crew Digital, Mad Influence, One Digital, DistroKid, CDBaby, TuneCore etc. Similarly, we engage with various Music Publishers such as IPRS in India and all major global publishers.

In addition, we work a massive variety of leading and emerging artists like Dhavani Bhanushali, Arivu, Nikita Gandhi, Himanshi Khurana Benny Dayal, Kabeer Kathpalia, Jass Manak, Shaan, Mame Khan, Rashmeet Kaur, Tej Muzik and Aksh Baghla. Our engagement with these stakeholders is centered around Content Licensing, Publishing rights, Promotion & marketing, supporting creation, sharing tools and best practices, and building opportunities for collaborations. We are also driven to provide them with IP and copyright Protection. Overall, it is our aim to help in their Creation, Discovery, Audience Engagement & Growth which enables different monetisation opportunities for them.

Could you talk to us a little about music discovery across Meta’s platforms?

The way music is driving trends on short-form video, and how music and artists are being discovered on them, is transformative for the music industry. On Reels, the uniqueness is the discoverability it offers. Reels is a growing global stage and the best place to be discovered for people and brands. This has led to a new generation of short form video creators, who’re showcasing their talent, irrespective of where they’re based, and acquiring a following across India. Take for example, the song ‘Kesariya’ from the upcoming Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt starrer, ‘Bhramastra’. Even before the song launched, a promo was released around when the actors got married, and has over 394k reels created with it.  Aditya A is another example, whose song ‘Chand Baaliyan’ has been used in over 1 million reels. He’s a singer who is a pathologist. He made the song a couple of years ago and it got picked up a couple of months back.

What are some of the initiatives Meta is undertaking to propel the Indian creator economy?

We’re working towards helping creators get discovered, educating them on their startup journey, supporting them with the best tools and information, and educating them on monetisation. We have multiple programs that ensure equitable support to different creator segments. We see hundreds of thousands of creators rising from small towns, from what we call ‘Bharat’ – creating content and building fan franchises.

‘Born on Instagram’ is a good example of a program we run. This is Instagram’s creator education and enablement program, which includes a creator course to educate aspiring creators to create, grow and earn on the platform. The self-learn, e-learning course has 15 byte-sized modules that give insights on how creators can manage their presence on the platform, create better content, grow using Instagram’s diverse tools, stay safe and earn through branded content. The program launched in September last year, and is now available in five Indian languages. So far over 120,000 people have registered and over 75% of them are from tier 2 & 3 cities. As of 2021, there has been over 35% YoY growth in the number of monetising Facebook creators and video publishers in India. Also, over 160% YoY growth in In-stream revenue earned by monetising creators and video publishers in India.

Could you talk to us about the process of creating the #1MinMusic project?

It was the behaviour we were observing around Reels. The short form video format of Reels, coupled with the wide array of music tools, is increasing audience engagement from across the country. #1MinMusic is aimed at inspiring artists to innovate and create music in a new way. To make this happen, we worked with several music labels, distribution companies, aggregators and artist services companies. Amongst them are Believe, Silver Tree, EYP, Desi Crew Digital, Mad Influence, One Digital and Sony Music along with working with many independent artists directly.

In addition to the production process, we also provided infrastructural support to collaborate with creators, editors and choreographers to create #1MinMusic videos through #1MinMusicPopUps. It is heartening to see that this new #1MinMusic property is already getting featured on various streaming platforms including Spotify, Gaana. Jio Saavn, and Amazon Music. We have so far launched 17 #1MinMusic songs and videos and it has already garnered over 35 million plays in a short period of time.

How will monetisation opportunities evolve for creators going forward?

We are driven to build an overall healthy ecosystem – one that is both economically sustainable and progressive. We provide multiple models, products, programs be it advertising supported revenue opportunities, direct fan-based subscription or payments, commerce-based opportunities, funds and programs to kickstart a 0 to 1 motion, rewarding performance and many more. And these are planned for different creator segments. Our partners saw a growth of over 160% YoY in the revenue they generated from our family of apps.

There are also other indirect avenues. Artists are building their community by expressing themselves and showcasing their talent to these communities. This leads to collaboration and partnership opportunities, be it with labels, other artists or with brands.

What are your thoughts on whether short-form video can take over traditional long-form content?

The broader shift to video that we’re seeing is incredibly important. Video has become one of the most popular formats for people to express themselves – watching video is half of the time spent on Facebook and Instagram in January 2022. From Stories and Facebook Watch to Facebook Live and now Reels, we have different ways people can share and enjoy video on our platforms.

During Q4 earnings, Mark [Zuckerberg] talked about our investment priorities for 2022, the first of which is Reels. It’s clear short-form video will be an increasing part of how people consume content moving forward, and Reels is now our fastest growing content format by far. It’s already the biggest contributor to engagement growth on Instagram and it’s growing very quickly on Facebook too. As we continue to improve tools for creators, ranking for people watching, and as we roll out the product everywhere across the world, we expect that this will continue growing quickly.

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