Vh1 Supersonic Packs Everything to Deliver an Enthralling Experience — Saugato Bhowmik, Viacom 18
by Shantanu Jain Entertainment | February 2, 2017 | News
Vh1 Supersonic Viacom18
I still vividly remember the ecstatic experience I had at the third edition of Vh1 Supersonic at Candolim, Goa from December 27 to 30, 2015. The lineup exceeded my expectations, the experiential zones were superbly curated and the overall festival management was simply fabulous. All in all, Supersonic came as a knockout punch for me, immersing me in its vivaciousness and making me kick myself for missing out on its previous two editions.
I left Goa that year with a big smile on my face, vowing and reassuring myself that I will be back to drench myself in the Supersonic frenzy yet again and this is the reason it hurt so much when there was no main festival of the property last year.
As music fans, we all wondered what had happened to the Supersonic brand in 2016? The answers unraveled as Live Viacom 18 (custodians of the property) released a video announcing that Vh1 Supersonic had moved to a new base in Pune and its next edition would only be held in 2017. While this new information was met with great enthusiasm by music lovers in Pune and neighboring cities, many of us who desperately waited for the year-end festival celebrations, were a tad bit disappointed.
A Still from Vh1 Supersonic 2015
In a candid conversation last year, Saugato Bhowmik, Business Head, Integrated Network Solution & Consumer Products, Viacom 18 shared with me the reasons for Vh1 Supersonic relocating to Pune. Bhowmik is of the view that the motive of a true-blue music festival is nothing but to deliver a truly stunning experience to its attendees. And for that to happen it was crucial that the property was excellently curated and was cost-effective to the organisers as well.
Speaking to Bhowmik gave me high hopes for the fourth edition of Vh1 Supersonic. Maybe it is a good thing for the festival to set up a new base in a state where the government is event-friendly, the infrastructure is solid and the audience is appreciative of what you are offering. My belief was further strengthened as the festival announced reduced pricing and became more youth-friendly. And with the property now having successfully established itself as a multi-genre festival, all I can say is that I am glad Vh1 Supersonic is back and promises to be better than ever before.
Live Viacom 18 recently organised a press conference in Mumbai wherein it was announced how the transformation to multi-genre festival format had doubled sponsorship value for Vh1 Supersonic. I for one had different questions to ask Bhowmik post the conference, to all of which he gave frank replies.
On being asked about the experience in store for festivalgoers this year, Bhowmik said, “The experience that festivalgoers are going to have this year at Vh1 Supersonic is a diverse, balanced and an eclectic sense of music. This year Supersonic has everything right from techno to progressive house, and from electro to hip-hop. This means that our reputation of being a festival for true music lovers has just grown. In addition to that, this year we have attracted a lot more of a different audience segment that we did not see at our previous editions. Today, the hip-hop audience is equally excited for their biggest musical superstar coming to India for the first time. The festival this year packs everything to deliver an enthralling experience to its attendees.”
Clearly with no main edition of the festival property last year, expectations of music lovers is high from Vh1 Supersonic 2017. More importantly so, as the city of Pune is not new to large-scale music festivals. The city has previously hosted successful editions of NH7 Weekender and most recently Sunburn Hills. So what is it that custodians of the property are expecting from the city of Pune? Answering this, Bhowmik remarked, “Our expectation is doing very well from the audience appreciation and attendance perspective. I say that on the basis that we have sold a lot more tickets than we did in 2015 in Goa. Pune is the youth capital of India and is very well connected to Mumbai. We do agree that there have been multiple festivals in the region but the truth of the matter is as far as live entertainment properties are concerned we believe the more the merrier.”
He added, “Live entertainment is a huge category and we need grow it by bringing in more audiences and creating diverse experiences for them. The more festivals that come around in the country, the better it will be. I therefore enjoy the fact there are so many festivals in the region, which interestingly are all organized at different times periods, because of which all have terrific opportunities to grow and engage the audiences here. My understanding is that this industry needs a lot more music festival and brands to come in. We have no evidence till now that suggests that people will not come to this festival because there are others that happen nearby. On the contrary we have sold double the tickets we sold last year in Goa.”
Coming down to the economical aspect, it’s not an unknown fact that most music festival properties in the country today are yet to churn out profits. Commenting on the profitability of Supersonic, Bhowmik commented, “We are in a much better position since we have moved to Pune as we have sold more tickets and managed to reduce our costs of set-up and production. Also, we have been very cautious this year about the lineup and each detail of the property. The idea is to grow more and get better every year and we are on a path to become profitable really soon.”
Bhowmik also elaborates on how the festival this year will see its partnering brands create captivating experiences for its audiences. “We are working very closely with brand partners and they are treating the festival as an opportunity to engage audiences at the festival with curated content and customized activities. As an example, one of the stages is being curated by Gionee in a very futuristic manner. Budweiser is creating a delightful beer garden where audiences can enjoy cocktails and chill. FastTrack and other brands have several interesting activities lined up too," he said.
With all boxes of attendee engagement and a kickass music festival rightly ticked, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Vh1 Supersonic 2017 certainly seems like one amazing experience for festivalgoers on paper. Whether it will deliver all that’s promised is something only its execution will reveal. However, for now, one thing is perfectly clear — with a revamped identity and a cool new avatar, Supersonic seems to be in it for the long haul and is ready to serve its audiences the experience of a lifetime.
The fourth edition of Vh1 Supersonic is slated to be held from February 10 to 12 at Laxmi Lawns Pune.