Launching a song on Facebook now makes more sense than premiering it first on a music channel, according to Rohan R Jha, General Manager, Media & Promotions, Sony Music India. At India Social 2012, he gave the example of MTV India which according to TAM TV ratings reaches out to 245,000 people, while the same channel has close to 3.2 million likes on Facebook. So, even if 10%-15% of people who like the page, watch or share the video, it’s more than the number of people watching it on TV, he said.

Making a viral is no science; Virality is relative

Talking about the recent viral video hit, Kolaveri Di, Jha mentioned that the company felt that it could have been a viral because of the unusual content, which made it quirky, specially for audiences outside the South. However, in Tamil Nadu, the company adopted a traditional approach to promote the song and the film. He talked about how producers come to the company asking them to make a song viral, like Kolaveri di, but “there’s no science to making a product viral,” said Jha.

Also, virality is relative to the scale and budget of the film – “If chikni chameli gets 4.5 million views it’s not a viral because it’s a big-budget mainstream film with big stars. On the other hand a small film like Vicky Donor, which started with an online-only promo, getting 750,000 views can be considered a viral hit,” he elaborated.

According to Jha, it’s also about the lack of shelf space in mainstream media, that makes promoting semi-popular and niche films, online, a good proposition. While 20% of films promoted online are mainstream, the rest is dedicated to semi-popular films- so digital is now an alternative space, said Jha. Apart from that the company is now taking a clue from what’s trending online to decide if it could make it to mainstream media – ” We guage what’s popular on social media to see if we should give it precedence in mainstream”.

Social Media & Films – Pros & Cons

Jha felt that the relationship between films/entertainment industry and social media is in a honeymoon phase. While there are opinion leaders on social media, there are also programming heads and other gatekeepers of the industry online, to keep a track, he added.  However, according to him, the problem with social is that there are too many ‘opinion leaders’, and content can easily get lost due to the problem of plenty. He also talked about crowd-sourcing of films through social media, citing the example of Onir’s I AM, which was made from the money raised through social networks. Jha also pointed out that audiences from tier-2 cities were also increasingly joining the social bandwagon – out of the 410,000 fans that Sony Music India has on Facebook, about 40% are from metros cities, while the rest are from the other parts of the country.