Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Social networking sites lead in redefining entertainment

Social networking sites lead in redefining entertainment Priyanka Joshi And Aabhas Sharma | Business Standard | Mumbai/New Delhi, July 27, 2009 Kailash Kher is one happy man. The popular singer has four million users of hooked on to his song Na Batati Tu. They karaoke to Kher's track straight from their mobile phones over ibibo's proprietary voice platform and even upload it to the social networking site (SNS). Kher is amazed by the hundreds of karaoke uploads driven by his track. "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that people will be singing my songs in their voice through a mobile," says Kher. According to ViziSense, an online audience measurement and analytics platform, from the 49 million internet subscribers, social networking, photo and video sharing sites draw over 50 per cent of the Indian internet audience. Vinay Nayar, manager of rock band Pin Drop Violence, believes it's a win-win situation. Nayar's band too took to social networking and has seen their fan following grow ever since. Sony BMG had recently launched customised social media applications based on Beyonce's latest album I am Shasha Fierce and Teri Sajni, a sufi compilation, to woo music lovers on the internet. Music band MidivalPunditz had launched its album Hello Hello with a specially designed application for ibibo users where they could meet the band members and watch their performance live. Sanujeet Bhujabal, marketing director, Sony Music, says that websites such as Yahoo India Movies and Rediff Movies have a different ambience when compared to an SNS. "The scope of innovation, execution and interaction on an SNS is wider primarily because the features on these sites allow better integration of content," he says. Bhujabal reckons that when users of SNS sites discuss any music on the sites' discussion boards, it acts as a catalyst to drive up popularity ratings of that music or requests for it on radio. Consequently, this translates into better album sales and digital downloads for music companies. Sony Music, which is planning more initiatives around SNS sites, is keen to continue exploring social media users to bolster sales. Indian networking sites such as BigAdda have been quick to tie up with Channel V for their popular reality music show LaunchPad. International networking portal MySpace too has launched a separate digital platform called Music Central that allows artists to take their work to a wider audience. As a result, BigAdda's LaunchPad page has over 20,000 members and over 115 videos of various bands participating in the show. "We are delighted to provide a platform which gets artists recognition and helps them in furthering their career," says Mandar Natekar, head of revenue and marketing, In return, BigAdda is happy to score a rise in its page views. Ashish Joshi, head (digital business), Universal Music, also agrees that social networking users do help companies clock higher sales on both physical and digital fronts. He cites the example of Universal's latest campaign on ibibo: "We asked users to take part in the 'Bohemia Da RapStar' contest by listening to his songs and rating them. Winners got a chance to meet Bohemia and even rap with him on his songs." Even Bollywood and the entertainment industry's love for SNS sites has come to prominence recently. It has swiftly led to the development of viral applications, blogs, listen-and-win contests etc, the results of which indicate consumer reaction and feedback to entertainment companies. "Social networking sites are 'watering holes' for youngsters where issues are discussed, opinions shared and trends started," says Sony Music's Bhujabal. Sony Music has decided to double the number of promotions on the web this year. With Bollywood releases such as Tum Mile, based on the Mumbai floods of 26th July 2005, Wake Up Sid and Kurbaan, based on terrorism, Sony is hoping to cash in on its experience with SNS users. In June alone, reports ViziSense, social networking portal Orkut recorded 14.9 million unique users, followed by Facebook's 6.92 million and ibibo's 2.29 million. Siddhartha Deshaprabhu, associate director (entertainment marketing) of, has an explanation for all the frenzy on social networking sites. "For the 15-24-year-olds, who frequent SNSs, the average time spent on ibibo is 20 minutes per user. This makes a great medium for companies to engage users." Brand consultant Harish Bijoor sums, "How else do you differentiate from the others in a space where something new comes along every quarter?" But Bijoor is quick to add that a lot needs to be done before the medium's potential can be exploited fully.

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