The Sherp sat down with the Viacom INS Head, Jaideep Singh, to talk about the makings of a festival as massive as Supersonic, the initiative ‘Support The Scene’, and what the future holds for Vh1 Supersonic as a brand.
Having built many music/youth related properties as the head of Live Viacom18 Business division of Viacom18 Media, including MTV Video Music Awards India, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards India, Vh1 Supersonic Goa, and many more, Jaideep Singh has over 15 years of experience in the Indian media industry. As the 2015 edition was underway a few weeks ago in Goa, The Sherp had the opportunity to speak him about many interesting topics. Read more below.
Hi Jaideep. How has the Supersonic experience been so far?
The whole progression through the three years’ time, since we started the whole thing was all about maintaining the soul of the brand through the right kind of music in the festival and the right kind of line-up, and the right kind of creative minds. These constituted the core of building up the soul of the festival.The next step has been to take the production piece to the next level. This was to make sure people experience something new.
Lastly, it has always been about how you get consumers to feel a different vibe every year. This is majorly the difficult part since this depends upon what gets communicated to our consumers through our emcees, Nikhil or me, or the content that we push out.
These three pillars, have given the brand the right direction in terms of the vibe, the visual spectacle, and the music. So starting from Arms House, to UKF, and Awakenings this year, having artists like Disclosure, Zedd, Axwell, Skrillex, and Major Lazer, I think we’ve invested wisely in this space to maintain the balance between creativity and content. It’s been a risky investment, but I think it’s just opened up the whole dance music space in India. And that’s something we always wanted to do, and has worked well for us.
We spoke to Arjun Vagale, and he told us that he thinks Supersonic is one of the most intelligent music festivals in India, which coming from him, is a big deal.
I think it’s all about the team we have. As the head of LIVE Viacom18 and Supersonic, my objective is to bring people from all across the globe to get involved in the festival. It’s not about one guy in the end; it’s about the people from India, and Europe and the States who work together, to build this up.
We heard about the initiative, Support The Scene. It seems like a great way to make the festival scene sustainable. Can you tell us more about it?
The day after Slash came down to India, I thought about how so many people, who can easily buy passes, do not do so in order to only enjoy the privilege of a free pass. I felt there needs to be a shift in the behavior, like how consumer behavior changed with the onset of online retail stores in the market. Someone had to take the first step, and introduce a change in this behavior pattern for privileged entries. I still provide them the privilege of discounted rates by bringing down the price of the entry pass. This way, I also ensure that we receive some margin amount with each entry pass so that we are able to clear the entertainment tax dues as well.
We need this change to be propagated in the industry so that more and more people get the understanding of what goes behind making up of such large format events, and how important it is for our consumers to pay a stipulated amount for the format to run. We saw a number of people from the industry who paid for their entry this year and were here to enjoy the festival. This year, I bought my passes myself, so no one can demand for a free pass. That’s the change we need.
Safety and security of the attendees is an integral part of a festival as massive as Supersonic. Can you tell us more about the security/safety measures implemented this year?
Whenever you talk about a consumer-facing event, there always has to be a strong security system in order to ensure and maintain peace. It takes about 3-4 months of clear planning and about 200 people to deliver in a format of such large scale. The amazing thing about India is that we’re able to pull things off in a very short time. [Laughs] To pull off this scale of production in the time we pulled it off, is commendable.
Supersonic has started online streaming of the festival. What does the future of online streaming hold?
I think – even when we started the business as a whole – it’s an amalgamation of all platforms. We need to have online, on ground, and broadcast converge together if we want to break into the market. For me, being online is a very key and critical piece, and whatever happens online always has an extension broadcasted on my channels. If I have to break down my experience to the millions out there, I need to be online. We’ve invested in this from the beginning. The thing we still need to work on is – how can we make the experience better every year?
What can we expect from Supersonic in the future?
I see Supersonic as a global brand. There are very few brands in the dance music space that can claim themselves to be global brands. I don’t think we’ve become a global brand in terms of presence or scale, but I think most of the markets know us. Most of the big festival brands are aware of us. I think next year our goal would be to very seriously explore taking the brand out to a few more markets.
So, Supersonic is going global next year?
Let’s not say global – but we will take Supersonic to a few more markets outside India, starting with Southeast Asia. It looks like a good hotbed to explore.