| 04 Oct 2023
Sony Music: The 'Badshah' of marketing music

MUMBAI: Punjabi rapper ‘Badshah’ signed a deal with Sony Music India around three years ago, and the songwriter has been all over across platforms. A fortnight ago, the music label uploaded a video featuring the rapper for collaboration with one of the leading automobile giants - Yamaha’s new product RayZ. The video has crossed four million views on YouTube so far, and the factor has worked as a win-win-win situation for the three parties involved.

Using a musician in an advertisement has been tried and tested and the results have been encouraging for everyone involved. However, Sony Music India focuses to ensure the artists signed under the label remain exposed to a 360-degree marketing effort utilising the impressive clientele of over 30 brands that work closely with the company. Indian advertising agencies have gradually mastered the art of appropriately incorporating music into the theme of the brand and the initiative, and in a way, Sony Music India leads the race on providing artistic and strategic solutions to these brands in some form of music or another.

Senior General Manager, Brand Partnerships at Sony Music India, Kiran D’Cruz emphasises on how the company has extended beyond a typical record label, in terms of its aggressive marketing strategies and brand partnerships involving artists. “Sony Music has always been a strategic music agency. We do not sign musicians for one aspect only,” elaborated D’Cruz, who has been in-charge of the brand partnerships at the organization since August 2013.

For millennials, the genre of ‘desi hip-hop’ instantly becomes the bridge between themselves and the artist, and Sony Music India has capitalised on the phenomenon by signing arguably the hottest property of the genre in India – Badshah. From a brand’s perspective, in an age when almost any artist’s music can be consumed through several music streaming platforms, promoting its product through musical videos has gradually become one of the few mantras of success. Sony Music India, in a way, has potentially portrayed Badshah as a ‘hero’ through its in-house produced videos, and although musicians receive as much appreciation and fame in the western markets as an actor, the practice does not extend to India. With a presence on the TV screens day-in and day-out, Badshah could slowly become a household name.

“When Badshah promotes, let’s say, Yamaha RayZ or Hitachi, not only does the brand find a promotional boost through the rapper’s fame, the musician reaches out to wider audience too. Both the parties are happy. We act as the mediator, the bridge between the two,” explained D’Cruz. Sony Music India boasts a roster of artistes that includes Badshah, Arjun Kanungo, ‘Kolaveri Di’ sensation Anirudh, Mumbai-based rapper Divine, vocal outfit Voctronica and Aastha Gill. “We do not sign artists for the sake of it. We sign specifically certain artists who have the potential to scale up in their respective professional careers.”

Continuing with Badshah’s example, the former Network Sales Manager at Radio One said, “We ensure the artists’ work reaches all the platforms on all the levels. With brand associations, the project travels to wider audience through these platforms.”

Understanding the nature and taste of the consumer, historically speaking, has been a tricky effort. However, Sony Music India ensured no stones are left unturned to observe the precise behaviour of the consumers across several cities and towns. The company executed its first phase of the research among 7,800 people, last year, leading to the series of decisions that acted as vital decision for the label’s recent developments. “The first phase took us four long months, however, the second phase would not take as long.”

When it comes to music (or celebrities – in general), three kinds of listeners consume the artist’s content - Fanatics, Casuals and Enthusiasts. Badshah’s fanatics would listen to his songs and accept the brand he promotes, no matter what. The casuals do not really care deeply, whereas the enthusiasts swing both ways. Badshah’s rival’s fanatics will not listen to his projects no matter what, so our focus would be the enthusiasts and casuals. Tieing up with a brand allows the label to achieve exactly the same.

Branding encompasses -
1. A message that expresses the artist’s taste and preferences.
2. Helps the artist distinguish himself/herself from the competitors.
3. The emotional connect with the audience acts as the icing on the cake.

In the current Badshah – Honey Singh rivalry, the association with a brand or more allows Badshah to feel unique and receives a ready-made tailored platform to reach to a wider audience.

Cruz emphasised on the being the leading strategic music agency and the intent of a 360-degree marketing approach, and the label’s several efforts on the front justifies the statement. Sony Music India initiated few content creations in the form of web series and associating with Ray Ban’s IP ‘Never Hide Sound’. The label also partnered with Micromax for the Cricket Anthem with the use of one of the compositions from its catalogue ‘Chale Chalo’ from ‘Lagaan’.

Brand endorsement with the elements of music continues to remain Sony Music India’s forte, and the access for its international artists makes the label a luring factor for the brands. With initiatives like ‘Meet & Greet The Artist’, the music agency exposes its artists to more fronts and, understandably, the 100 per cent foreign owned company’s commercial approach – technically and ideologically – makes an ideal platform for established artists to further boost their presence and popularity.