AgTalk | Journey from physical to digital: T-Series' Vinod Bhanushali

T-Series is India's largest music company, dedicated to entertain all music lovers around the globe. Associated with the music industry since past three decades, it has an ample catalogue comprising of various languages that cover the length and breadth of India and has brought the world closer through its music. Founded in 1982 by Mr. Gulshan Kumar, a visionary, T Series which started with audio cassettes has today emerged as a multi-faceted group and an undisputed leader in the music industry. It is a prominent in consumer electronics/home appliances with an annual turn-over of Rs.400 crores (US$ 90 Million).

Vinod Bhanushali is the President - Marketing, Media & Publishing at Super Cassettes Industries Limited aka T series.  As head of all India- Promotions, Marketing, Media Planning, Licensing based in Mumbai, his key responsibilities include planning and working out strategies for the development of this niche music company, with primary focus on India market and to closely associate with Cable Operators and Channel partners and develop new business opportunities with emerging new media platforms. He holds a bachelors degree in Commerce from K J Somaiya College and completed his further studies from Yamazaki Gakuen University. He has been a part of the industry for almost two decades.

Adgully caught up with Vinod Bhanushali, President, Marketing T Series, to know how the company has made strides in the growing social and digital media domain and their journey ahead.

Adgully (AG): You have been part of T Series for more than two decades, how has it evolved with time?

Vinod Bhanushali (VB): I have been with T series for last 19 years and I have seen the entire music industry growing and we have simultaneously grown with it. I have seen an era where CD’s and cassettes have been made and promoted on various platforms and each passing day has been a learning procedure for us. We have 

moved on from what the youth in India wanted then, to their present day requirements.

AG:  So, in the span of almost two decades what are the challenges you have faced and how would you describe the scenario of the domain you are in today?

VB: I would say that difference between the challenges then and now is that earlier there was a lot of physical work involved such as- one had to have factories, workers , distribution chain, transportation, places and godowns and stores to display your CD’s and cassettes  and the most important task was to get the consumer to come to your outlet.  But, today the digital medium acts as a vehicle to transport your content in an effortless procedure. Today’s youth have loads of responsibilities and for keeping a pace with everything right learning is required. With digital the decision to reject or buy the content/music has become much simpler. You are not answerable to anyone and earlier to buy one song you had to buy entire album but today you can just buy one song of your choice.  Physical distribution was time consuming and today the same distribution is possible with one click. Today digital platforms enable opportunities for sale and interaction.

AG: How have the emerging media platforms impacted your business and encouraged you to make a shift towards new media available?                                                       

VB: Rather than making a shift towards new platforms it was about acceptance and challenging ourselves whether we are ready for the change.  When Gulshan ji launched the company, music was not an industry, it was just a label and people owning gramophones used to enjoy it. The entire process involved acceptance to change, which was inevitable. With Hungama Digital Media as our digital partner our content converted from physical to digital medium and we made it available to digital audience and youth. When we started with these platforms, the numbers were not so huge, as earlier the concept of having music in your phone was just a style statement but today it’s a personal identity. Now people share their liking for films and music on social media and this has brought about an entire change and we decided to go with the flow.

AG: Initially available only on CD’s and cassettes, with time you have moved on to  digital, and social media platforms, and now venturing towards the mobile handsets market. How challenging has the journey been?

VB: We already had a mass audience as we are available in all the genres of music. The focus was how to reach out to the audience who are available on these platforms and how to make the music experience more exciting for them.  We also researched if they are willing to consume it on digital format too. We decided that we’ll make ourselves available to them with their choice of music, wherever they go. It was a learning procedure for us as in 2013 we had 235 million handsets which is expected to double in 2016. Smartphones presently in the price range of Rs. 8-10,000 stretching to 55,000 will be easily affordable and  today’s youth know how to earn and live life on their terms be it youth living in urban or semi urban areas. Yes, we’ve now ventured entry into Mobile Handsets which is a growing consumer product and will be launching it soon in India.

AG:  Please share your views on competition in this space?

VB:  Competition is not in distribution. Anyone who makes good music and is talented can distribute it on Youtube and other such platforms. Making good music, promoting it well and creating an urge amongst users to buy it is what makes it different. In every 1 hour, 70 hours of content is uploaded on Youtube, and everybody doesn’t get good reviews only good content leads to publicity and sale.

AG: Tell us about T Series’ venture into the mobile segment and how you are going ahead in this direction?

VB: We are still to launch in India. We ensure to provide highly innovative and fascinating handset ranges catering to different user groups. This venture has been started and will be looked after by T-Series in collaboration with Shachii Gizmo Private Limited which has already been into the mobile business for quite a while now. We know what interests different users in mobile and our aim has always been to be the best service provider across India and we are going to follow the footsteps in the world of mobile technology too.

AG: Brief us about your TG and core market in India?

VB: Our TG would include teenagers, up teens, women, the elite and everyone who likes music. Given the mobile penetration today, big numbers for us come majorly from semi urban areas, the small cities.

AG: What is the market share in India and abroad? Also, update us on the revenues that have been generated in music through the online medium?

VB:  In terms of quality music we are close to 70 percent in India and abroad it depends upon the content which majorly constitutes Bollywood music. For music, 40 percent of revenue has been generated through online media.

AG: T- Series has always been a music label but has lately become a film production house. How has this strategy worked for the company?

VB: We all know that majority of Bollywood films demand music. We produce or partner with the film keeping in mind a certain idea and primarily to entertain the audience.   We are enjoying our success with the release of Aashiqui 2 and Yaariyan. Both the films are youth centric with good music and it cannot get better than this.

AG: How has year 2013 been for you and what are the expectations from year 2014?

VB:  Year 2013 has been superb for us but in 2014 we face challenges such as the IPR issues, which need to be resolved soon especially for talent and business houses and basically everyone or else it will affect all of us. We also plan to make more films and get the rights for the big ones to come.


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