Saregama India is transitioning from a retro music catalogue company to an aggressive content creator across music, films and television. The company, in the last one year, has started investing in new film music, by creating music for films such as Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga, Total Dhamaal and Panga. The company also plans to foray into Bhojpuri film music. It's 3-year-old film production arm, Yoodlee Films, which focuses on digital releases has licensed 10 films to Netflix and three to Hotstar as originals. "We are keeping the company relevant for 20-30 years down the line," says Vikram Mehra, MD, Saregama India.
Fresh content creation is happening on its pre-loaded music device Carvaan too, on which it has launched podcasts. It is not only creating its own podcast content, it has also partnered with the likes of BBC, film critics like Anupama Chopra, as well as food and travel enthusiasts to create 282 podcast channels. "The latest version of Carvaan has a return path. It hooks on to your home WiFi, you continue enjoying your 5,000 songs that are pre-loaded in it. Beyond that if you want to listen to content apart from music, turn the same knob off and we are streaming 282 different podcasts on to your Carvaan," explains Mehra. Carvaan, says, Mehra, is moving from just an audio product to an audio platform. Unlike earlier, when Carvaan only contained Saregama-owned content, it has now started offering outside content through podcasts, which is being regularly updated.
The company is now looking at monetising its podcasts through advertising. Just as YouTube shares its ad revenue with its content creators, Saregama also plans to share 40 per cent of the advertising revenue it generates with its content creators and would also allow the creator to retain the intellectual property. In the COVID era, when most brands are increasingly opting for more intense engagement with their target audience rather than doing a 30-second TV ad, Mehra believes that his podcasts are especially suited for it. "We are in a position right now that an average consumer listens to podcasts between 32 minutes daily to, on a good day, the number is even touching 40 minutes," says Mehra.
The company recently entered into a licensing deal with social media giant, Facebook, where its music content can be used by Facebook users to generate their own personal content. Mehra says that retro music has been doing especially well among the younger generation. "Even users on platforms such as TikTok are creating content using retro songs. New age platforms such as Facebook are realising that lot of their consumers want to use our content in their personal videos, and hence licensing deals are happening."
Carvaan's progression from an audio product to an audio platform and the company's transition into a larger content company seems to be the need of the hour. In Q3FY20, the company had reported a 23 per cent dip in profits for Carvaan. With retail coming to a halt during the lockdown, it further added to its woes. Saregama's revenue in FY19-20 declined by 4.26 per cent to Rs 521.47 crore.