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9X Media’s Music Label SpotLampE’s Story with Rajitta Hemwani

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9X Media is the only music television network to have a unique business vertical called SpotlampE. Under this vertical, they mentor and manage music talent, play the role of a music label and also through their cluster of five music television channels help the independent music artists get a massive reach for their songs.

SpotlampE is genre and grade agnostic. They work with all talent established and new, across genres, across languages, across countries, just to ensure the best of originals reach the audience.

They are currently working with talent across the field of singing, composing, DJing from India and also from UK, Canada, Dubai and the USA. In a short period, SpotlampE has associated with many new and established artists from the music industry. From singer Neha Pandey to Mika Singh, International rapper Shaggy, Salim-Suleiman, Shankar Mahadevan and Daler Mehndi, SpotlampE has partnered with many singers.

We spoke to Ms Rajitta Hemwani, Chief Content & Operating Officer, SpotlampE for to know more about this venture and its purpose and their efforts in contributing for the budding Indian Music Industry

How did SpotlampE come into being?

“The discussion happened with Mr Pradeep Guha a couple of years ago, and we go back a long way since the TOI days, and one of the suggestions or ideas that hit me was the fact that you are a media company which has five music channels. So you have everything and more to promote original music, and content is king for all media companies, and you can build your own content. So while you develop your channel and run other people’s content, why can’t you run your own content on the channel? So it started with the vision of creating original content for our channel and then because of my past experience with music labels, including Times Music, I wondered why can’t we have our own label? We can have content from the established or new talent. Music Labels today, most of them at least, do not have music channels. They still approach us to promote their music. We have a ready platform – all one needs is a strategy to put together the plan so we can tell the world that we are also a music label. It is all about creating synergies around our label, and our properties to maximise whatever output we can.”

You mentioned that you are looking for original content, are you managing these artists? If yes, then how are you managing them?

“Managing select and talented artistes, yes. The idea is also to build content for the music label. We have found a couple of artists who have piqued our interest, and we want to be very selective of who we sign. We could probably be more open to signing artists regularly.”

“Currently, we are working with various established artists like Shankar Mahadevan, Mika Singh, Kailash Kher. We also have newcomers who we are working with including a hip-hop artist, and a soft-rock band. So for me, I want to maximise the Music Label because it is a baby compared to its peers in the market. We are catering to different genres across space. We are doing Sufi music with Kailash Kher, International Collaboration between Mika and Shaggy, and a Ganeshiji Song with Shankar Mahadevan.”

“I did a Hip-Hop track last month, I’m doing a rock band song this month. So the effort is up to cater to every genre. Side-by-side looking for talent that shows promise and we work on them for 3-4 years and turn him/her into a superstar! They would have a music label backing, TV channels backing. For the longest time, we haven’t seen a Superstar emerge from the Industry who has gone international; that is a void we want to fill. Music is language-agnostic, and some songs are famous even though we don’t understand them like Despacito or Gangnam Style or Macarena – so why can’t we have a song that does so well on that level? So I am very quality conscious of the artists that I want to sign.”

 Are you looking to work with an international talent as well?

“So we are already working on that for the past two years with a property called SMASHUP which is on our various channels where I picked up established DJs from the country and told them to their version of Bollywood and showcase it on the channel. Working with Suketu and other DJs, I have now moved to working with female DJs because they don’t get enough voice. So then came Shilpy Sharma, Rink and other female DJs. After working with the likes of them, we reached out to Indian DJs living abroad to help them showcase their talent to Bollywood. But as a music label, I also want to work with international artists, and we have already achieved one of them, but I want to take it higher and figure out various ways of then working with artists who are not necessarily Indian because I don’t want to limit to just India, I want to make it a global market.”

What about Live Performances? Are you looking to delve into that area as well?

“Of course, when you sign artists to manage, they do perform, and we are taking care of that. But we have also started our own platform called 9XM Onstage where we did a performance on Republic Day for the Armed Forces with Salm-Suleiman. We also have another one coming up in Jan-Feb where another A-list artist will do a massive concert with us which will happen live of course, but we will also showcase on the TV screen.”

So there is a right amalgamation with your music label feeding off the channel and vice-versa. Other OTT platforms you are looking to work with to create successful partnerships?

“If there are other platforms like Netflix, Hotstar wanting to work with our artists for their music, we are open to it. We are open to the idea of publishing as well. I think it is a part of artist management we are excited about. We are already showcasing their work on our channel, and having them get an opportunity to score for a short series or film would be an excellent opportunity for them and for us.”

What are some of the challenges you have faced in the industry so far with SpotLampE?

“Well, there are a lot of music labels which are also producing movies, which ends up being an advantage for them. They get the YouTube Numbers, they got the movie producers and can do song placements in these movies easily. When you come into an industry where there are players who have been a part of it for the last 20 years or so, we have to convince the artists as to why they should go with SpotLampe. Because we airing content from others as well as our own original content, our content needs to be of broadcast quality. We get submissions all the time where the visuals of the track are not as pleasing or not up to the par of the quality of the content we broadcast, so it is challenging to find the right content. Challenges are there in every industry, to be honest, but you just have to make it worth the while for your customers and automatically attract talent accordingly.”

What are some of the shortcomings in the industry that you have noticed that you believe should be addressed rapidly?

“Not really a shortcoming, but it really irks me a lot is that every song or a singer is concerned by the YouTube views and some artists are touching some crazy numbers, and we all know about the ways to boost those views. I wish the artists and their craft were reviewed by purely listening to them and didn’t have to rely on numbers to seek attention. Just because I am a singer today who can market myself and can spend an x amount on my song and can reach 500 million views, and on the other hand there is another singer with far more talent than I do, but cannot afford to do that spending, their music gets lost in the whole chase of numbers. It is very unfair to the talent today. Apart from that, I don’t see any challenges because you are entering a specific business environment where obstacles and challenges are a part of the nature of the business.”

What can we expect from SpotLampE in the future?

“We have a couple of releases planned for the coming weeks. Back-to-back releases. Then we have our Onstage property where we will be doing concerts. Recently added an ad on our TV channels, where we are asking for people’s submissions if they think they are talented. So this is where I’m using our channel, and this is my advantage. Even people in Tier-2/3 cities can reach out to me. That’s how easy I’m making for them. The next goal is to release fil music on our platform because we have the power of our channel and music label.”

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