Pawan Jailkhani, Chief Revenue Officer of 9X Media, talks about the growth of the music genre, new advertisers, and focus areas for 2021
In 2020, the music genre was among the top five genres along with news, GEC, movies, and kids, which accounted for more than 90% share of ad volumes, according to the TAM adex report 2020. The genre witnessed around 4-5% increase in viewership. During the lockdown period in 2020, when other genres were impacted, music was no different. But despite the challenging times, the TV industry witnessed the launch of new music TV channels in 2020, especially in the regional space.
In a conversation with exchange4media, Pawan Jailkhani, Chief Revenue Officer of 9X Media, talks about the growth in the music genre, new advertisers, and focus areas for 2021.
How has the year 2020 been for 9X media and the overall music genre?
This has been a watershed year. We all had never seen such a situation in the country or globally when advertising came to a complete halt. Nearly 90% of the clients paused advertising in 2020 during the lockdown period. Very few players were brave enough to think that this was the right opportunity to reach consumers and advertise, especially in the first quarter of 2020
The music genre was no different. It also suffered. We were at the same level across the industry. At the end of the day, we sell audiences and each genre delivers unique audiences. The only difference in genres is that some genres deliver less audiences while others deliver more audiences, but each genre has its unique proposition and own relevance in the ecosystem.
Despite the pandemic, 2020 saw some new music channel launches, how do you see the music genre growing in India?
Music as a medium is an important subject, and it cuts across psychographics and demographics.
Advertising is about environment as well, and music gives the best environment for the brands. Most of the top brands in the world do not associate with negative or gloomy platforms or platforms led by hate ecosystem because they believe that brand adaptability and brand communication thrives more on a positive ecosystem; and music is definitely one of them.
Today in India, music channels have a substantial reach and deliver a specific audience and strong eyeballs to brands, equivalent to that of GECs. Music channels have that capability and 9X Media Network has proved it many times. But the unfortunate part about our genre is that in the last 10 years, there haven’t been many serious players. The industry needs more serious and dedicated players in the genre. At 9X Media, it is our constant endeavour to build this genre, and we have been successful to a large extent. We lead the genre in a big way, both in terms of revenue and channel share. ROI is there, and if someone really believes in the medium of music and what music can do to brands, society and consumers, they have to be serious about investing in the music space, as we have done. We have some serious advertisers and brands with us who completely believe in the network. We invest not only in the channel, but we also invest in multiple brands within the channel; we create multiple sub-brands and many avenues or mediums for brands to get monetised.
Many new categories of advertisers have emerged during the pandemic. Which are the new brands that came on board on your network?
Many categories have emerged in the last 10 months and we have also seen some of these categories spending on our network. For instance, gaming has emerged as a big category for us. The e-commerce segment also realized the power of music and how it connects with the brands. Apart from these, edu-tech clients and start-up digital companies have come on board as well.
Since we did not have fresh content to play as there weren’t any new movie releases, we started producing our own independent music and that helped us sail through the crisis.
What is going to be the focus area for 9X Media in 2021?
The one big area that we have been focusing on is independent music stories—the emergence of our music label- SpotlampE. We are already on the verge of producing some 70-85 songs. The focus is now to accelerate the growth of our independent music label.
Secondly, reinforcement of digital for the network continues to be there. We already have a presence in the digital space, but the next big focus is to produce content on the digital platforms. We are the pioneers in short-format content and we are going to reinforce our commitment towards this in 2021.
Thirdly, our focus is going to be on our audio stories. We're already trending at number three-four globally in the music segment, and now we will give our majority of time to audio stories. We will be one of the first broadcasters who will take that plunge and build on those stories. Our voice and podcast will be the major focus area in 2021. Our fourth focus area is to recover whatever we lost in 2020. We aim to recover the base in the first six months.
What factors will drive the growth of the broadcast industry in 2021? And how much growth can we expect?
The immediate focus is to recover the losses that the industry suffered in the last 10-11 months. Each company, platform and publisher will focus to recover those losses, and that recovery will be the key factor for the growth of the industry. Also, the reinforcement of linear and non-linear (TV and digital) mediums will become more necessary now. Brands will need more ROI-led and out-of-box solutions and the industry needs to create that demand for them. TV and Digital are going to be key.
However, the Adex should come back to the 2019 level by June-July, and then maybe in the next six months, industry should see some growth.