On World Music Day, Bhushan Kumar discusses T-Series hitting 100 mn YouTube subscribers
On World Music Day, after T- Series becomes the biggest YouTube channel in the world, Bhushan Kumar talks about the secret behind their Numero Uno status.
Bhushan Kumar, the Chairman and Managing Director of T-Series, is a happy man. And with good reasons too. The most immediate one is winning the YouTube crown for hitting the 100 million subscriber mark on YouTube. The milestone number makes it the largest music channel in the world.
In the bargain, there were unfortunate casualties too — YouTuber PewDiePie, actor gamer and commentator — was knocked off the coveted no 1 perch. But naturally, some online hate followed with PewDiePie putting out a video which made pointed and ridiculing references to India’s caste system and poverty. The company did get a stay order on his rants and but instead of a negative counter, followed it up with the Bharat Wins (Over) YouTube campaign to underscore the triumph.
“He (PewDiePie) is an independent YouTuber and we are a company so it’s a different ballgame altogether. I don’t know from where he started feeling that we are taking his place or something like that. The only thing we were unhappy about was when he was saying bad things about the country, saying stupid things about T-series online,” says Kumar about the controversy.
The matter has now been put to rest but the YouTube milestone is indeed a marker for how far, the music company that started out with audio cassettes, has come. Seated in his expansive office, Kumar is candid about what it means for his company. “Perception wise, it was a big thing for us that we are the number one channel in the world because subscriptions indirectly help with the commercial aspect too.”
It has been quite a reboot for a company that for long followed the traditional business model of physical cassettes and CDs. He sheds light on how he reacted to the advent of music being freely available on the Internet. “Initially, for us, it was a very scary thing. There were many pirated sites like song.pk on the internet. So we used to take a stay order against them and get them shut down. We used to think if this music will be available on the internet then what will happen to our business? We believed that apart from our physical cassettes and CDs, nothing else should disturb our music market. But, things kept on changing. YouTube came in. There were other legitimate OTT services and we started giving our music to those platforms, and then we realised that we shouldn’t be scared about this new technology that is coming up. It is just a new medium to sell our music,” recaps Kumar who took over the reins of the company when he was just about 18 years old, soon after his father Gulshan Kumar’s tragic murder.
To Kumar’s credit, he has risen to the challenge and taken T-Series to the heights that its founder, Bhushan’s father, would have liked to see it at. Even when it started, and especially over the past two decades, the company has come to be known for having both an ear for music and sound judgment of movie content.
“A simple melody that is easy to hum,” vouches Kumar, is unfailingly the spine of bestselling music. Given that T-Series music is always top-ranking in practically all music charts, it is difficult to find faults with his theory. He has had his musical misses like not buying the music rights for Murder or Rang De Basanti, for example.
Besides developing an unerring ear, strategically, the company has acquired an enviable roster of vocal artistes under their label. The company is promoting new finds like singer Dhvani Bhanushali (of 'Dilbar' and 'Leja Re' fame) or Sachet Tandon (composer and singer of the song 'Bekhayali' from Kabir Singh) besides old dependable names like Neha Kakkar, Tulsi Kumar, and Armaan Mallik.
On the movies front, they have produced several successful films like the more recent Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Raid, De De Pyaar De, Bharat and Kabir Singh, besides the upcoming Street Dancer 3D, which the trade pundits are optimistic about. The evolution, Kumar admits, has been a gradual one. “I started with movies like Tum Bin, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Lucky, with just one movie in two or three years, but then when we produced Ready with Salman (Khan) bhai, Aashiqui 2, Bhoothnath Returns with Amitabh Bachchan ji and then we thought, ‘We are getting the pulse right for movie content, just like we’ve got it right for film music.’”
What is also significant is the company’s shift from musical, song-laden films to action films and dramas. “Earlier, we were more interested in musical films, but then we moved on to doing films like Baby and Airlift which didn’t have scope for music. Today, people don’t come to us thinking that we only accept films with music. They come to us with great subjects. Now, we have 15 to 16 films releasing a year,” Kumar avers.
Vinod Bhanushali, President for Marketing, Media & Publishing (TV), Music Acquisition and now also a co-producer at T-Series, who joined the company under Gulshan Kumar in 1994 and continued under Bhushan’s stewardship, says of the company’s steady climb up the charts, “We are the Number 1 choice of the film industry because of Bhushan Kumar. His journey has been commendable. When he joined, things were not favourable. The pressure of the business and a demanding market would almost make him break down but he never gave up. He has always worked not like the owner of a company but like an employee." "Toofaan aaye par kashti ko sambhaal ke rakha,” is how Bhanushali describes Kumar’s role in steering the company to its present strength.
Kumar characteristically demurs from accepting such praise, simply saying, “I only follow in my father’s footsteps. He is the reason behind our company’s success because I am just following what he used to do.”
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