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How music has become the real social connector, and technology has helped democratize music in today’s digitally connected world
Devraj Sanyal, Tarsame Mittal, Sonal Dabral, Viral Jani and Carlton Braganza discussed how music has become the real social connector in today's digital worldBI India
The panel discussion was a part of Business Insider's Global Trends Festival 2020
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How music has become the real social connector, and technology has helped democratize music in today’s digitally connected world

The panel discussion was a part of Business Insider's Global Trends Festival 2020
  • Speaking on Day 1 of Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival, Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO Universal Music India and South Asia, Tarsame Mittal - Founder, TM Talent Management, Sonal Dabral - Creative Consultant and Ex-CCO, South East Asia at Ogilvy, Viral Jani - Senior Vice-President, Investment Operations, Times Bridge and Carlton Braganza - Entertainer & Founder, Opus discussed how music has become the real social connector today.
  • The lockdown has helped bring communities together, and led to artists and content creators using newer ways of not only creating content but also reaching out to their audiences.
  • They also spoke about the role technology and tech platforms are playing in democratizing music and helping artists and creators reach out to a larger audience in a digital world.
Over the years, music has been an important tool in bringing people together but in these last few months, when the entire world was locked in their homes, it took on a larger purpose. We saw people singing from their homes to cheer for health workers, saw individuals serenade neighbors from their balconies. But we also saw music play an important role in the digital world, bringing people together, despite they being in different parts of the world.

As a part of a panel discussion held during Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival, we brought together experts from the world of music to discuss how music became the real social connector during these tough times and how technology helped enable this.

The session which was moderated by Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO Universal Music India and South Asia had panelists including Tarsame Mittal - Founder, TM Talent Management, Sonal Dabral - Creative Consultant and Ex-CCO, South East Asia at Ogilvy, Viral Jani - Senior Vice-President, Investment Operations, Times Bridge and Carlton Braganza - Entertainer & Founder, Opus.

Music and brands

Over the years, we have seen music play an important role in advertising. With famous jingles like Hamara Bajaj or Piyo Glassful Doodh, brands have been able to create a huge impact in consumer’s minds and helped in the process of brand-building.

On how a few memorable brands were built on the back of strong jingles with music at the core of its communication Dabral shared the story of McDowell’s Soda’s famous friendship anthem, Ye No 1 yaari hai.

“Friendship had been at the core of the brand’s communication and we were thinking of how to develop on the idea. During my research, I was reading up on friendship and I came across a few farewell videos of people where I saw many of them use the song ‘Yaaron Dosti’ in the background which is a popular song by singer KK. It was then that the idea of creating a friendship anthem for the brand struck me,” shared Dabral.

Dabral then wrote the lyrics of the song which was composed by music composer Rajiv Bhalla and the brand gained tremendously due to this song. From just a brand campaign, the song also became the foundation for No.1 Yaari Jam Pad which was a platform for music enthusiastic to collaborate with like-minded people to create new music and showcase their stories to the world.

The need for artists to be social

While music has always been social where people have gotten together for gigs and concerts to enjoy music together, with the advent of social media, artists have gotten various new platforms to showcase their talent.

Discussing the need for artists to be active on social, Sanyal asked Mittal about the importance that social media plays in the lives of today’s artists. To which Mittal said, “It plays a very important role. Music is the creator of consumer economy today and creators are creating music for consumers and all of us, be it managers, labels etc, are a part of the mix. Social media is a platform that helps these people tell their stories. There are many artists who might not be always active on social media but they are still active on a few platforms. In my opinion, even an interview is a social communication and when artists communicate, we get to see a part of their personal narratives. As an audience, we are able to see a new perspective of culture through music.”

The importance of making music social

Speaking about how challenging the last few months were for the entire world, Sanyal said, “It was a time when people were desperate for connections, and that’s what we got, due to the intervention of technology.” He cited the example of Jukebox Jammies, an online show created by Braganza that has now seen over a 100 episodes.

Elaborating on how the show started, Braganza said, “I started the show at the beginning of the lockdown and I started it as a joke saying Modiji was not allowing me to go outside my house. It started out as a half-hour show where people would request songs. Initially there were 20 people but the number kept going up with each passing day. I thought I would do it till I could get out of my bedroom, but slowly it started feeling like it was making a difference to certain people. I had friends coming in, specialists who helped me with the tech side of things. The numbers kept growing. It slowly became a virtual community coming together and waiting for me to be there. From it being a show where people were asking for me to sing, it became more of a community where the music was incidental. I saw a whole community coming together and I started touching upon other person things too, stories about where I grew up. I got messages from people saying this was taking them to an uncomplicated, happy space when things were nice. It brought with it friends, music and connections. People came together and it became a cool hangout which had music at its centre.”

How technology became an enable for music to go beyond boundaries

Sanyal also touched upon the role social singing platforms like Smule was playing in building communities online and giving people a platform to showcase their talent, and how technology was again making it possible.

Looking back on the evolution on social media over the years and how platforms like Smule are now using the power of social media to bring people together and become a part of a community while also building a following for themselves, Jani said, “The first phase in the journey of social media was when platforms like Facebook were created. People were using these platforms to connect with each other in small circles. The second phase moved to public expression, when we saw platforms like Instagram and Twitter come in which made one-to-many communications possible. The third wave however made it easy for the creation of content and Smule is a part of this third generation of social network. Our platform is making it easy for not just singers but even regular people to sound good. It allows you to create content and take it out to other social platforms. It has helped build communities and we have seen that magic happen over the past few years.There is a rallying around that happens. Even regular people who don’t really have a singing background can have thousands of followers on the platform where they make friends with music and they also create music with friends.”

The platform also witnessed massive growth during the lockdown months owing to the fact that people were stuck at home and were looking for interesting things to do, to keep themselves engaged and entertained.

“We saw people come to our platform during the lockdown months and use it as a way of alleviating their stress. We saw close to 200% increase in downloads and over 130% increase in the monthly active users during the lockdown,” he shared.

The lockdown also led to people embracing technology much faster than they otherwise would have. It also saw many businesses innovate, to come up with content created from the comforts of their homes.

Sharing a few such examples, Mittal said, “Technology is really important for everything we do along with the creativity and the content we create. During the lockdown, we discovered so many tech platforms which helped us come up with online content. We organized the Rise India Awards with Red FM on multiple platforms. We also shot a video with 2 of our artists, where everyone in the team was in their respective homes. But with technological intervention, we were able to shoot the entire thing from people’s respective homes. We also organized ‘Mimicry Ke Superstars’ with Paytm which was a digital reality contest. We did All About Music completely digitally this year by integrating different technologies onto one platform. So, right now technology is the most important part of our work that is bringing everything together. In fact, I am pretty sure that even once the pandemic and lockdown is over, technology will continue being an important part of our lives and everything we do.”