Chairman and Managing Director Bhushan Kumar and President – Marketing, Media & Publishing Vinod Bhanushali of T-Series in conversation with Team Box Office India as T-Series tops the chart at youtube
Box Office India (BOI): Congratulations! When did you learn that T-Series was the No 1 channel on YouTube?
Bhushan Kumar (BK): One or two weeks ago, through a YouTube newsletter! I actually found out about it from other people because we don’t get into the nitty-gritty of whether our channel is No 1 or not. And then the congratulatory messages just started coming in. For people in the digital world, it’s a very big deal. Our film industry considers YouTube their benchmark for many things. So messages started coming in from the industry and core digital people. That’s when we realised that it was a really big deal.
Vinod Bhanushali (VB): Especially with the youth… my daughter pointed it out to me. She said, ‘Dad you guys are No 1. Do you know what that means?’ It’s all about content, the rich content that T-Series has been making and producing for so many years, now all is in one place. Somebody also said we should be very proud because we have made India proud.
BK: When the news broke, we wanted to announce it but we felt it might look egoistic. But it’s a very big moment for us. When we did announce it, everyone was very positive.
BOI: Your success is not confined to India, it is now worldwide.
VB: T-Series YouTube is the only channel from India on the list. Of all the other channels from India, whether sports or other genres, none has made it to the global world level. As an Indian, you should be proud that an Indian channel has made it to the world map on YouTube, and is No 1.
BK: There is no limit to the number of channels online.
VB: Every hour, 72 hours of footage is uploaded to YouTube… 72 hours of content every hour!
BK: That happened six years ago. Initially, YouTube was a little like television. About 10 years ago, television was a promotional tool for music companies. We needed television channels to promote us so that our songs and cassettes and CDs would sell. When YouTube became big, the same thing happened. We didn’t know if revenue would be generated or not as it is a free platform for people to upload content.
Initially, we actually requested them to block our content as some things brought us revenue, while others didn’t. People were uploading T-Series songs all over the place and we were getting no revenue for most of it. Then we started our official channel and framed a deal to cover everything of ours that was being uploaded to YouTube, whether audio, audio-visual or anybody else using our property.
VB: Now, for instance, if you want to sing a song with visuals of yourself on your YouTube channel, the royalties for the song will come to us.
BK: We restricted everything. You can’t use even 5 seconds of one of our songs without sharing the revenue with us. That’s how the journey began, and then we started uploading our content to our official channel. We were the first to do this, and we have gone on to build the biggest subscriber base in India, with the highest number of views in the world. That’s a huge achievement.
BOI: With so much content uploaded, how do you track UGC content?
VB: YouTube has its own algorithm to do that.
BK: YouTube has a very strong system in which all the content of every company is mapped. When even a bit of a song that belongs to us is played, it automatically generates a match in their backend system.
VB: We had to ingest the content by following a specific methodology. Then, we had to match and simulate the audio. If even a part of it doesn’t match, then it’s not your audio.
BK: Today, we upload all our songs into their system as they are released.
VB: We have about 15 channels – T-Series Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Regional, Kannada, Tamil, Kids etc. It I all categorized and makes it much easier to search for a specific song.
VB: Our YouTube channel has more than just music, it also has films and much more. It’s a search engine, actually. So we just concentrate on creating content. If you have great content, then this is a great platform for it. That is why Bhushanji always says that if a film song is a hit, it is our property and we should brand it as such. Once that’s done, then it filters down to television, radio and all the other mediums.
BK: It is not advisable to have an independent platform. Many music companies have attempted this but they have not succeeded. If I launch my own channel, then I obviously have to restrict the use of my content on other platforms, and the truth is that everybody goes to YouTube because people want to listen to a bouquet of different kinds of music, they want everything in one place. So if we aren’t on YouTube, they will just go to websites with pirated content for our music. That’s why it is not advisable to go it alone, digitally.
VB: What works is the song. If I want to listen to Selfie lele le re, Sanam re or Tum hi ho, all of which belong to T-Series, as a subscriber you even get notifications for new songs.
BK: For the listener, the song matters, not the platform it’s on. So it is ideal to be present on a platform where you can brand your identity without having to create your own platform. Also, with YouTube, we are able to reach our audience and we don’t have to pay.
VB: Ab technology hum ko bechegi. Also, we don’t have any carriage fees and we don’t have to take risks by creating something new.