In what appears to be a fairly significant move in the YouTube MCN (Multi Channel Network) space in India, Samir Bangara, AR Rahman and Shekhar Kapur backed Qyuki has signed what Bangara calls a “strategic and operational” deal, for doing content around music from Universal Music Group (UMG), and its affiliated publishing entity, Universal Music Publishing Group. Bangara, who was MD (Digital) for Disney-UTV, took over as CEO and MD of Qyuki last year, and invested in the company as well.
Multi-Channel Networks are entities that affiliate with multiple YouTube channels, to offer content creators with assistance in areas including product, programming, funding, cross-promotion, partner management, digital rights management, monetization, sales, and audience development. They can choose to commission content that they own, license it from labels, or merely help partners monetize their channels. They also liase with brands to do branded content.
Qyuki, which has created its own “partner network” of content creators, operates 60-70 YouTube channels, has plans to work with Universal Music in three key ways:
1. Create cover versions of YouTube content: “There are more than 30,000 tracks that Qyuki artists can sing from the Universal library and monetize it as a part of our network. Typically there is a conflict of interest, but here we are tied in to the value chain,” Bangara says. This allows artists to do cover versions on YouTube, without the fear that Universal Music might claim rights over it and either shut it down, or keep the money for themselves. This is a major issue that YouTube content creators face, and false Content ID claims are not unheard of. Universal Music, which has already cut an album with Indian YouTube star Shraddha Sharma, will use this partnership as a funnel for discovering new artists, with they can sign up. “As we do the discovery of artists, we have an understanding about how they migrate up the value chain,” Bangara told MediaNama. For Universal, it helps them in terms of monetization, and also creating a pool of artists to choose from, Devraj Sanyal, MD (South Asia) for Universal Music/EMI Music said in a statement. With Google Music expanding its horizons as a subscription service, licensing will become all the more important, Bangara believes.
2. Create new shows with Universal artists: Qyuki can also co-create ancillary content with Universal Music. It can create and monetize show formats like Google Hangouts, video-blogs from artists, create artist backstories, and record their recording sessions. Last month, Qyuki introduced The Sofa with a hangout with singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, to coincide with the launch of his new album ‘Back 2 Love’. Qyuki plans to do a show every month with an artist.
3. Repurposing of audio content into video: The deal gives Qyuki access to Universal’s library of content, and allows the company to take audio only content from Universal’s library, and convert it into video content. Bangara believes this is particularly applicable to devotional content. Typically, channels do this online by adding slideshows to music content.
Bangara says that Qyuki is just short of a million subscribers for its network of channels, as of now.