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DCM June Newsletter Column By Ranj Bath
DCM East 2011 Speaker Interview
Ranj Bath, Chief Marketing Officer, Desi Hits!
We recently dropped in to the office of Ranj Bath, CMO and Co-Founder of Desi Hits! to ask him a few questions ahead of his presentation at DCM East this October. Desi Hits! is an exciting project which is working to bring together Western and Southern Asian popular culture…and is getting some impressive buy-in along the way. www.desihits.com
DCM: Tell us, what is your greatest achievement?
RB: It has to be Desi Hits!It started as a passion and has grown to cover the changing face of pop culture. It was originally thought up as a portal for south asians and has grown to become a new company which is helping to remove the borders between cultures and driving western pop culture across southern asia.
The upsurge in western music with facebook cropping up means india is no longer 6 months behind. In fact, time zones mean southern asia often experiences new music before Europe and the US. Their interest is the same as in local music, they're hungry for all forms of content.
DCM: What's next for Desi Hits!?
RB: We’re working with the world’s biggest artists and helping to shape their brand strategy into the South Asian market. We’re helping to create awareness, build the fanbase and identify further monetization opportunities. We’ve just launched the world’s first music label designed to find and nurture Southern Asian music suitable for the world stage. It’s a joint venture with Universal music - stay tuned for announcements coming up soon!
DCM: What would you be doing right now if you weren’t at Desi Hits!?
RB: If I wasn’t at Desi Hits! I’d be in another start-up around the idea of social media collaboration, but still focused around music and entertainment.
DCM: How far have smartphones penetrated in India to date?
RB: In the local market, there’s only a small group on smartphones. There are 350 million phones in India, but the smartphone market is still growing. More and people are buying prepaid phones. Smartphones are growing more rapidly since one of the best 3G networks in the world has been installed in India. But the monetization model is still different e.g. just one of the ways to access content in India is to call in to a number and ask questions of your favourite stars, rather than accessing content via a smartphone.
Technology means there are new opportunities to take video content to new platforms - it’s no longer 2.5G. We’re speaking to mobile manufacturers like Nokia about launching applications especially for India now. The smartphone market is affluent and spending more time online, which means they’re exposed to western culture and more open to it, which is the perfect market for us.
I think India will leapfrog the PC and go straight to tablets. The Indian market needs an affordable option which isn’t reliant on a regular power source. As long as it’s affordable, people will want it and they’ll be happy to pay.
DCM: What’s the biggest challenge you face right now?
RB: We’re having a big battle with the education of music labels. Traditionally a lot of them cling to the old model of squeezing money out of music sales, rather than monetizing everything they do around an artist. That’s the most frustrating thing for us right now.
DCM: Who do you most admire?
RB: We work closely with Jimmy Iovine, Chairman and President of Interscope, who’s a big inspiration to me. He’s hustled his way in and worked his way up and nurtured some of the biggest artists in the world.
DCM: What website could you not live without?
RB: www.billboard.biz for keeping abreast of what’s hot in the music industry
DCM: If you could have invented any other website, technology or business, which would you choose?
RB: itunes - not Apple - because they’ve come in and done what the labels should have been doing. It’s a huge missed opportunity for the labels.
DCM: What are you looking forward to at DCM East?
RB: I’m looking forward to looking at other models - content, apps, gaming - and understanding how they approach monetization and how it could potentially apply to my own business.