What are the chances that a traditional (non-film) Indian music channel online can make money?
That is the question the tie-up between Los Angeles-based Jungo TV and Durga Jasraj’s Art and Artistes (AAA) raises. The end-October partnership will create Waah TV, a linear traditional (non-film) online music channel.
Jungo TV provides content to about 80 cable TV channels across the world. It brings in its tech know-how and partnerships with some of the biggest cable and OTT (over-the-top) distributors like Amazon Prime, Roku, Turkcell, across markets in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Europe and the US, to the Waah TV tie-up.
Early in August this year, Jungo TV signed a deal with Verizon, which posted $131 billion in 2018 revenues. The latter will provide Jungo with its end-to-end global advertising platform solution targeting India and other Asia Pacific markets. Verizon is one of the largest broadband providers in the US and the owner of brands such as HuffPost, TechCrunch and Yahoo. This then places Jungo in a great position to distribute Waah TV to markets with an affinity for Indian music.
On the other hand AAA brings 20 years of understanding of traditional Indian music and a repertoire that includes 25,000 audio recordings, 200 live concerts and 500 TV recordings. For over a decade now it has been holding concerts across the country. These feature a potpourri of known and unknown musicians and a blend of genres from Carnatic and qawwali to Indipop and ghazals. Its library spans 120 genres across 90 Indian languages and dialects.
Waah TV, arguably the first traditional music channel from India online, hopes to reach about a 100 million people by March 2020. “Indian music has a huge global following, not just among Indians but among people across nationalities. Waah TV will enhance the reach and penetration of Indian music to a whole new level,” said Durga Jasraj, founder of AAA and daughter of vocal maestro Pandit Jasraj. AAA however declined to share its revenue numbers or estimates of what it expects Waah TV to bring in.
Jasraj had set up AAA in 1999 with a vague thought — presenting and packaging non-film music to reach more people. It has done pioneering work in the whole area of discovering new talent and giving it a platform to reach out to audiences. It went through several iterations before Neeraj Jaitly, a former consultant with EY came on board in 2009.
In a country where 70 per cent of the Rs 1,100-odd crore in sales and 100 per cent of the discussion around music is film-based, the market for non-film music gets no attention.
Jaitly and Jasraj have worked at creating a profitable business around holding concerts focused on non-film music across big and small cities in India.
AAA makes the bulk of its money from these. However, the concerts are subject to the vagaries of marketing budgets since sponsorship is the bulwark of the business. Not too many people want to pay to see a music concert. And while YouTube has generated some revenues it is simply not enough to sustain, says Jaitly, director AAA.
About two years ago it put about 500 pieces of music on iTunes and Spotify but had very little visibility “in the ocean of millions of songs”, says Jaitly. That is when the company decided to build its own platform. Even while it is grappling with that the Jungo TV deal came along. “This helps us do away with the cost structure of TV and satellite etc. and reach a huge audience,” says Jaitly.
Will this convert into substantial subscription and advertising revenues? That will be clear only a year down the line.