| 04 Oct 2023
Saavn joins hands with knowledge partners-GroupM and Madhouse for æAudio OnÆ Summit

MUMBAI: The first-annual ‘Audio On’ Summit commenced with a promise to return as a bigger event for its next edition. The event, powered by Saavn along with its knowledge partners GroupM and Madhouse, explored opportunities that went beyond music, featuring audio formats like podcast and audio adverts, which are largely untapped by digital services and radio networks in India.

The event started with a welcome note by Media conglomerate GroupM South Asia CEO, CVL Srinivas, where he pointed out that audio is an engaging medium that can be evangelized, and through the summit wants to develop a platform that will gather digital advertisers, marketers and various other stakeholders, to understand the power of audio. He also recalled the famous former All India Radio announcer Ameen Sayani, who was a voice on the show 'Binaca Geet Mala', and stressed on how his voice is still remembered.

Saavn VP product, Gavin Byrne, covered the evolution of radio during his session 'The State of Audio'. The reason Byrne wanted to enlighten people about audio evolution is because he felt the audio space was very interesting and it was essential to understand the future. He also added past opportunities will show where the future will go. He also mentioned how music is the only component of audio which has been used in India by many. However, he added that podcasts will evolve faster in India, and highlighted that India will continue to be ad-supported until the next decade. He stated that the right audio content and the right technology will be able to deliver impressions and increased audience engagement.

Following Byrne’s session, there was a special tribute to BrandMusiq founder- Mani Janardhanan, whose sudden demise a few days earlier, came as a surprise to those present at the event. His BrandMusiq partner and co-founder- Rajeev Raja said some kind words and played a lovely tune on his flute in Janardhanan's memory.

The next session 'Removing the Barrier between Audio and Ad' was a panel discussion, moderated by GroupM CSO Tushar Vyas. The panel had names like marketing, innovation and platforms, independent consultant -Gaurav Wadhwa, Afaqs publisher and COO-Prasanna Singh, Askme digital strategy head-Manav Sethi and BrandMusiq co-founder-Rajeev Raja. A discussion focused on the need to analyse brands and meet the needs of a brand before delivering a product. During the session, it was pointed out that there is a need for more audio platforms, which would cater to the needs of brands. It was also stated that audio has influenced the ways content creators interact with their audiences. The reason a lot can be achieved through audio comes from the fact that audio can be made available through mobile. The session ended with many on the panel suggesting that the demystification around audio needed to be resolved, which will allow growth in the audio space, as a whole.

For 'Turn Up the Volume', Saavn co-founder and president Vinodh Bhat, MTS India executive director marketing- Amitesh Rao, South Asia Universal Music Group and EMI, MD and CEO- Devraj Sanyal, Ozonetel chief innovation officer- Chaitanya Chokkareddy, and MissMalini founder and optimist prime- Malini Agarwal, were on the panel that was moderated by Manish Vij, founder and CEO of SVG Media. This session focused on the fast growing digital medium and the need to leverage opportunities available in the space. Rao felt that there should be more audio penetration, as he shared not so encouraging data on audio consumption, which includes music and other voice services. Chokkareddy, who was praised for the implementation of HUL's Kan Khajura project, added that it was successful as it targeted non-smartphone users in Bihar and UP, who like entertainment and fun, but cannot avail the facility through phones. Today, HUL has 40 million subscribers registered and will go on to add more subscribers to its base. Furthermore, Bhat and Malini, were explaining how various platforms can increase monetisation by using ways that are subtle, and not on the face advertising. Talking about streaming, Sanyal said that there is a lot of optimism around streaming services. While Bhat agreed with him, he also hopes to add more paid subscribers in the time to come.

There was also a keynote by Businessworld chairman and editor-and-chief- Anurag Batra. His talk titled- 'The Evolution of Audio' provided statistics on print, radio, television and digital ads. He also touched on the Phase III FM radio auctions, criticising the move by radio players who he thinks paid huge sums on radio, when there are many new mediums ready to take over radio. However, he ended the serious discussion with a light heartened radio joke.

Batra's session was followed by a session 'Can you hear Queen and King Content coming', which had two panelists from the radio industry, former RJ- Roshan Abbas, who is also chairman at Geometry Global and Encompass Network, and co-founder at Kommune; and popular story-teller at Big FM- Neelesh Misra, who is also a journalist, author, radio storyteller and founder of Gaon Connection. The panel also had names like stand-up comedian- Papa CJ, and Sandunes aka Sanaya Ardeshir, a music producer, composer and synth player. Abbas and Misra talked about radio and the freedom radio provides, however, still pointed out loop holes that radio players should understand as they play with a powerful communication medium-audio. The two shot various interesting points about content creation and came to the conclusion, which Papa CJ and Ardeshir agreed with, stating that brands and agencies that join hands with content creators, have to rest their faith in them. The discussion revolved around content creators, artists, distributors, and brands who can work more harmoniously to create content that is accessible without compromising quality or creativity. This session was moderated by GroupM content and social media national director Karthik Nagarajan.

The last keynote was by South Asia Madhouse COO Milind Pathak, who stressed that content is king and consumers are evolving. He also hopes there will be an increase in audio consumption in the time to come. The closing note was delivered by Saavn brand solutions VP Sandeep Singh.

With audio across all verticals poised to emerge as the number one content, media and advertising medium within the next year, Saavn conceptualised 'Audio On' as an annual event to prompt high-level conversation on audio as the key component in the evolution of digital advertising. The event was limited to a select 100 individuals to facilitate a collaborative and open conversation.