Channel [V] and Sony BMG

Channel [V]

This afternoon we went on to meet the guys at Channel [V] to meet Saurabh Kanwar and Sheetal Sudhir. Channel [V] used to be known as an International and local trend setting channel until earlier this year when it had new management and started to play exclusively Bollywood music. This shift was initiated because of the marketing and advertising power of the Bollywood world – but interestingly when we met with Saurabh he was pleased to let us know that their audience are missing the contemporary Indian and International music so it is being re-introduced so that the split will be more like 70% Bollywood/30% independent Indian and International. 

Channel [V] have a programme called Launchpad that gives up and coming bands the chance to compete and gives them coverage. This has been very successful and has helped bands profile new Indian music.

Talking to Saurabh was like having a conversation with people back in Brum who follow Andrew Dubber‘s blog. His take on the possibilities of new technologies and the new economy for musicians was very familiar but he doesn’t get this from Dubber he admires people like Cory Doctorow who believes in similar things but is still quoting the Long Tail theory and talking about making Blogumentaries.


We then travelled on to Sony BMG‘s offices in Mumbai to meet the Head of Marketing and TAR Arjun Sankalia. He was great at summing up a lot of what we have been learning. He talked about the history of Indian music in the most concise and comprehensive way outlining why Indian’s appreciate music in a totally visual way:

a) India has had a very good indigenous film industry

b) India has been quite isolationist

c) there was no television until the late 70s early/80s at which time it was mostly state controlled

b) there was no radio that was not state controlled until the late 90s

Therefore music has been soundtrack led and Indians continue to consume music visually. 

This very clearly illustrates why Bollywood still dominates the music industry here and is 70% of the market share by value.

This means that for Sony when they want to break international artists in India they have to be visual like Shakira or Ricky Martin. Other music does break through like Dido (who is an exception) and music where the lyrics are simple and catchy (like Bollywood). Therefore music in English that comes from countries where English is the second language tends to do well because the lyrics are not too complex!


In fact talking to Arjun bought out so many gems of knowledge I will weave them into another blog post or this one will be too long! So here are some piccies:

Sony 1Sony2

and here is the sunset from our hotel last night:

Sunset one

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