Famous personalities reveal their YouTube connect

While YouTube in India was launched only in 2008, the domain celebrated its 10th birthday this month. As an embedded player, a tool for promotions or as a talent showcase, the platform has impacted Indian professionals and artists from diverse fields. Some popular voices share how YouTube has fast-forwarded their journey

YouTube connect: Scope of brands as Executive Director, LinTeractive & CMO, Lowe Lintas + Partners
We have barely scratched the surface of the possibilities that YouTube and similar platforms present for advertisers in India. But even then, its influence has been tremendous by way of opening up ways to make video-content more engaging for audiences. It has allowed marketers to stretch their media monies beyond television so far as the eyeballs game is concerned. It has provided a platform for video-content for brands that includes long-format stories, consumer education and socially responsible initiatives. 

Vikas Mehta: Advertising and marketing professional
Vikas Mehta: Advertising and marketing professional

Content format innovations such as interactive videos, linked episodic stories, and reality-based content. But most of all, it has given advertisers the ability to engage and enroll people as content creators. While great examples of this are still few and far-between in India, it’s a possibility that has a bright future for innovative content from brands. While TV still wins over YouTube on overall reach, with mobile becoming most of India’s first screen choice, that challenge will slowly go away. The biggest challenge, in my view, is the marketer’s (and at times, even Google’s) own mindset towards YouTube. It’s still largely bought and sold as a medium that delivers eyeballs. Most advertisers are using YouTube with a broadcast-like mindset of reach and frequency. The video pre-rolls (YouTube’s largest advertising inventory) are nothing but a Doordarshan-like commercial slot before a programme. The larger opportunity for a platform like this lies in creating innovative and interactive video content that can start and sustain conversations about brands. Brands need to look at YouTube as a part of their overall digital footprint and build synergies with other platforms where they are present. I don’t see enough of that happening yet. 

YouTube connect: The Viral Fever & youth entertainment network, TVF-ONE
Launched in early 2012, The Viral Fever is known for its comic sketches like Rowdies, Ganawala Song, Gangs Of Social Media and Qtiyapa among others, with many of their videos crossing 1 million views. Expanded into one of the biggest online youth entertainment networks, TVF-ONE enjoys a subscription base of 1.5 million.

Arunabh Kumar: Founder and CEO, The Viral Fever, TVF group
Arunabh Kumar: Founder and CEO, The Viral Fever, TVF group

YouTube is the cheapest and fastest way to reach out to your audience, especially for individual artists – be it stand-up comedians or musicians who struggle to showcase their talent. In fact, some have received work due to their popularity on YouTube. With stand-up comedy groups like AIB putting up sketches on YouTube, ticket sales for their shows have also risen. The idea behind The Viral Fever was to make shows that Indian youth would watch because they were hooked on to international television show. Since television was bound by structure, my partner Amit Golani and I started TVF in 2012 as an online television website. However, I didn’t have the money to host the videos, and YouTube enabled us to upload them for free as well as embed the player on our website. Our first show, Rowdies went viral and became the first video ever to have crossed 1 million views in India with regards to original content for web, followed by Ganawala song, Gangs Of Social Media, Qtiyapa, among others. In a way, we became the poster boys for creating original content for YouTube. Though YouTube is facing competition from other players, it will still remain a relevant platform for people with limited resources, who want to showcase their work.

YouTube connect: Bollywood covers like Pani Da Rang and Tum Hi Ho on the channel, 88keystoeuphoria
The voice behind the title track of Chennai Express, the 24-year-old Indo-Canadian singer first became a YouTube sensation with Bollywood covers like Pani Da Rang (3.7 million views) and Tum Hi Ho (5.7 million views) released on the channel, 88keystoeuphoria (run by Aakash Gandhi).

Jonita Gandhi: Singer
Jonita Gandhi: Singer

Before YouTube, getting into the music industry was based on networking, making demos, entering competitions and physically going into studios to meet music directors and composers. Nowadays, it has become the norm for people to cover songs and upload them to YouTube, which can be viewed by people across the globe. It’s a platform that allows artistes, composers and producers to discover each other. It’s a great place to test your material and get honest feedback. Although I’ve grown up in Canada, most of my fans are Indians who only know of me because of YouTube. Many of my show bookings come through clients who have only seen my work online. YouTube was the reason I was able to get heard and seen in the Hindi film music industry before I came to India. Some of my covers were seen and appreciated by industry names like Salim Merchant, Amitabh Bachchan and AR Rahman by chance. I was able to reach out to industry professionals with those links as demos of my work. Whether it’s movie soundtracks, covers or original works, YouTube is one of the first places people go to search for music. In the next few years, more people will use YouTube as a substitute for CDs, TVs and radios.

YouTube Connect: Food Food and Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana
One of the most popular faces in the food industry, celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor has two channels on YouTube, Food Food with 1,29,300 subscribers and Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana which has 1,40,747,726 views.

Sanjeev  Kapoor: Celebrity Chef
Sanjeev  Kapoor: Celebrity Chef

I started my YouTube channel about 5-6 years ago. I always believed that if you have content, it’s of no use till you can share it with many people. In 1996, when I started, there were very few players who had fully explored that market. The reach of the digital medium is huge, and I knew then that this would become powerful and relevant. Food is universal, and can’t be restrictive. YouTube has helped that tremendously with many home chefs using the medium today. Even my channel does not just feature me; we invite various home chefs to upload videos ad share content. YouTube is a robust medium that helps us connect with audiences across the world. People send queries about recipes and we can respond immediately. This makes the process highly interactive. The initial challenge is to restrict the cost and produce quality content. Once this is done, the scope is unlimited.

YouTube connect: Immortals Of Meluha was India’s first book with book trailers for promotion
The bestselling author’s The Immortals Of Meluha was the first book in India that used book trailers for promotion, uploaded on YouTube. He followed it up with trailers for his second title, The Secret Of The Nagas as well as music video for The Oath Of The Vayuputras, the third of the Shiva trilogy. 

Amish Tripathi: Author
Amish Tripathi: Author

Platforms like YouTube have democratised the world. Financially, for my first book, I couldn’t afford to put the trailer on television or cinema houses (we did it for my second and third books). YouTube, being free of cost, allowed me to market my message. In an earlier era, this would have been impossible as there was no such option. For people like me, who didn’t hail from wealthy backgrounds or have enough contacts in the publishing world, platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, open up a world of possibilities, because they are free of cost. Frankly, I didn’t expect the trailer to be successful. I was just trying something out. But that’s the point. Since the cost of trying something out is not that high, you can take a risk. When the cost is too high, you can’t take it. Today, the problem is that of plenty on YouTube. The challenge isn’t in putting up the video, but in getting it noticed. For that, you need to spend a lot more time and effort on making a creative video, which is not necessarily about the budgets, but about the idea.

YouTube connect: The Kasby Show
A veteran photographer, Atul Kasbekar, is a new entrant on YouTube with his channel The Kasby show that aims to help amateur photographers.

Atul Kasbekar: Photographer
Atul Kasbekar: Photographer

I have been using YouTube for a long time now but started my channel only recently. People today suffer from short attention spans. YouTube videos are short and easy to watch. My channel is for those who are interested in photography but with no inclination to become professional photographers. So, many have asked me why I don’t teach photography and conduct a class. I tell them that I don’t have the bandwidth for it. YouTube helps me connect to people who want to learn, all over the world, very simply. I can share simple tips that make a photograph better. It’s still at an initial stage, and I need to explore the medium a lot more. Personally too, I use YouTube quite a bit. My kids are teenagers. My dinner table conversations usually centre on what is cool and trending on YouTube. They told me about Gangnam Style much before my generation of fossils heard of it. I have a celebrity management company and my company is also producing a film. YouTube helps us understand the under-25 audience much better.

Ringside view
With over 300 million Internet users in the country and growing, we want to make YouTube a daily destination for all kinds of video content online. The rise of smartphones in India is driving the Internet consumption here, and we are seeing over 40% of playbacks on YouTube coming from mobile phones.

The future of the Internet in India is mobile. Soon 85% of the Internet population will connect to the Internet with a mobile phone before any other device. We recently launched an offline experience on YouTube in India, and we hope to help people move past the challenges of data connection, speed and cost to enjoy a smooth, buffer-free version of YouTube.
- Satya Raghavan, Head of content and operations, YouTube India

Tube talk
10 years: Since YouTube domain was registered in February but the beta site went live in May, in 2005. YouTube India site was launched in May, 2008

60 million: Unique Indian users per month as per Comscore (majority under 30 years)

63% of Internet-savvy Indians use YouTube to watch music videos. About half of them watch TV shows and film trailers

2 out of 5 also rely on YouTube to educate themselves. Around one-third go to YouTube to watch user-generated videos

(Source: YouTube India)

Popular Indian videos that went viral
1. Kolaveri Di (2011): 25 million views within a month of its release.
2. CST flash mob (2011): 2 million views (appx).
3. Alia Bhatt: Genius Of The Year (2014): 8,812,258 views.
4. Narendra Modi in Aap Ki Adalat (2014): 4,601,181 views.
5. IPL 2014 series the advertisement for Vodafone titled Zoozoo Safari: 8,812,258 hits

Compiled by Krutika Behrawala and Suprita Mitter

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