Namrata Singh believes talent management post-covid has transformed after the pandemic. In fact, it’s at the centre of the entertainment business. As Head-Emerging Tech, Metaverse & Digital at Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI), she’s perfectly poised to comment on the ever-evolving nature of the Indian entertainment industry. “We setup this business during covid, understanding fully that talent needs to be managed differently than how it was done in the past,” says Singh who has previously been the founder and CEO of digital media company, The First Principle and a Brand Consultant at Friday Filmworks, and been the Co-founder and Director of Everymedia Technologies.
Singh says earlier artists could afford to be just ‘one thing’, and that ‘one thing’ could sustain them for their entire career. “Now you have to be many things at once,” she says. “Currently, there are massive opportunities, not just in the country you originate from, but even globally; and that is what we essentially wanted to target and harness.”
In an exclusive chat with Music Plus, Singh talks about the national need for an organisation like SETVI, while forecasting what the future holds for creators, the Indian music industry, web 3.0 and more.
How has SETVI got an edge above the rest?
The two differentiators for us are venture deals for celebrities and the entire emerging tech space for the entertainment sector. Other than traditional representation, these were the two reasons as to why we were drawn to talent management post-covid. For the next 10 years, we are going to be building something that is going to look very different from the way it’s ever looked before.
I think our differentiators, as I have mentioned earlier, are definitely the fact that we have a massive ventures-play along with a massive emerging tech (virtualisation) play. Also, we are part of a global organisation, so we have access to huge IPs like ‘Shaktimaan’ or ‘Spiderman’. Thus, these are the kind of opportunities that we bring and that is what differentiates us.
Other than that, even in the traditional representation business, we are trying not to be transactional and build long-term plays for the talent that we work with, while also looking at multi-country approaches. Therefore, we are in for the longer haul.
Was the unbridled potential of the country’s creator economy a driving focus in zeroing in on talent management?
Absolutely. I would say that it’s not the ‘country’s’ creator economy, but rather that creator economy is global in nature, which is completely driven by individual creators as of right now. Although in the future we might see a cross pollination of creators, technology, platforms, global play etc. The creator economy is here to stay; that is, a shift in perspective. It’s a phenomenon which is going to stay and all of us are going to be creators one day, if we aren’t already. And we are definitely building towards this phenomenon.
What does SETVI have in store when it comes to music?
SETVI’s plans when it comes to music are simple. We are looking at music talent for not just live performances, but also virtual ones. Brands like TVS are already looking or working with meta humans of musicians like Arman Malik. Globally, there are already music concerts happening in popular video games like ‘Fortnite’ with artists like Ariana Grande, Travis Scott etc.
Music is a very interesting space; live, immersive and spatial sounds all lend themselves to music and all are very interesting concepts. We are obviously very gung-ho and bullish about music as a category.
You’ve signed on to represent a virtual influencer, Polar recently. Could you elaborate on the potential or growth of virtual influencers and especially music from such personalities?
We recently signed Polar on the potential and growth of virtual influencers. We think Polar is a massive candidate who will emerge over the next two or three years. This is already is kind of breaking the scene, but it will become even bigger now. Currently, Polar and Kaira are the two virtual influencers that are being spoken about in India. Although I can see celebrities and even brands having their own virtual avatars.
We are seeing interesting categories where people will be inundated by their avatars themselves. The avatars will stream, they will do AMAs, and will also perform. You will question what is real and even who is real. So, virtual influencers are here to stay. Their engagement rates are always better than most real people, thus they have a great ROI potential also.
You’ve previously mentioned that SETVI will future proof talent. What are the sort of challenges that being represented by SETVI mitigates?
When we say we will future proof talent, that’s pretty simple actually. We are saying that talent today is not just about performing. Talent now, has a set horizon; short-term, mid-term and long- term. In short term everyone is doing films, OTT shows, endorsements or brand deals. In mid-term, you could be looking at creating something of your own; it could be an IP, franchise or even a global play. In the long term you are looking at investing in start-ups and ventures. So, all of that together is kind of what the celebrity universe consists of, outside of traditional representation. Tokenisation, fractionalisation and angel investing, are all becoming the future of the talent industry.
The challenges that we face are, since the fact we are working with talent which is busy all the time, it is difficult to make time. How do you expand revenue opportunities in that case? That is the challenge that SETVI has to work with, and we also have to consider we are focusing on a global play and not just looking at India.
For the interested, how can an artiste become a member of the SETVI family?
There is no set formula, other than the fact that you have to be talented of course. If there is an opportunity or a case to build talent from Point-A to Point-B, it would be something we would want to explore if we see potential. Overall, talent is becoming more and more multi-skilled and multi-dimensional, so it is not a single skill game anymore.
So, if you potential, skills, an understanding of the creative economy and virtualisation, you are on the side of tech ventures and you take your career seriously, you will be somebody that we would definitely want to work with.
Could you comment on how representation in the digital age will evolve for Indian musicians?
Representation for musicians in the digital age is driven by not just labels; they are going much beyond labels. Musicians will have to look at creating different kinds of sounds, collaborating and working with artists from across the world. They will have to go beyond recording deals, the latest fads and the reels economy; it is a complex play, but very interesting at the same time. It is an amalgamation of technology, the fanbase, original content and collaborations.
Since music is now driven more by streaming than ownership, it becomes a problem for the musicians and that is what we are here to solve.
What are some of the areas of focus for SETVI in the next few months? Could you talk about any future plans or what’s currently in the works?
We are signing new talent daily. We are working with award-winning talent, virtual influencers, creators, international stars, brands (in terms of how we can make celebrities and brands more integral to each other). We are also working on the other side of talent; since the talent themselves represent a certain lifestyle and an ethos, it is our job to ensure that the ethos is part of their life, and it’s something we work on daily.
When talent, consumers, brands and platforms come together, it excites us and that is what we constantly work on and for.