Mandar Thakur, Times Music, India: “Internet piracy was actually a good thing to happen”
Mandar Thakur, COO, Times Music is delivering a keynote on Day Two of the Broadband Asia 2013 conference, taking place on the 9th-10th April 2013 in Hong Kong. Ahead of the show, as well as his views on the potential of LTE in India, we find about his his favourite gadgets, what he does in his spare time and what gets him out of bed in the morning.
What excites you most about your role as COO of Times Music, India?
In my 22 years in the entertainment business I have always been an entrepreneur. Whether for myself or for starting and managing companies for corporates, I have always been at the edge of change. From the early concert business and helping create the music television industry in India, to being part of a pioneering company that created digital distribution of music in Asia/India and now music IP creation, distribution and exploitation via Times Music in the global marketplace.
Given the challenges faced today by the industry such as the constantly evolving digital and IP landscape of the content business globally and rapidly changing consumer tastes I’d say what excites me most is the ability to constantly reinvent the industry paradigms and the deals and industry structures on the digital delivery frontier, and to relook at consumer tastes and create fresh offerings, almost on a daily basis, while at the same time maintaining a strategic vision that ensures company profitability. This is the best part of my role as COO of Times Music. This is what keeps me awake at night and motivates me to get to work soon as I get up!
What piece of technology could you not leave the house without?
My Blackberry and iPhone. I run my whole life and office via these two devices. Even when sitting in my office I’ll still get my basic level emails done on my Blackberry. I use the iPhone for all data work (as the Blackberry isn’t quite adept on usage outside core email tasks), and for all mobile apps (both personal, interest and work related). Even my banking, information consumption, media consumption, records etc. and other daily needs are all done on these portable connected devices.
Your day job is music. Do you listen to music in your spare time?
I got into the music business because I love music. That still remains. I listen to music all the time (although I have to say that these days the sensibility of a lot of music coming out escapes me). I have no day job – it’s all one and the same and I am glad that am able to lead a life that affords me to do what I love doing–which is creating gravity defining businesses and business models around the larger music/entertainment/content/technology industry.
The internet has transformed the music business. What are the challenges that it continues to face?
I may get lynched for saying this – but I have always believed that internet piracy was actually, in some ways, a good thing to happen to the industry. If not for that, the music industry would never have pulled its act together and embraced innovation and realised changing consumer behaviour and digital distribution. The challenges the music content industry faces are too vast to lay down here but the most significant one is the fact that the very core of the industry and its business dynamics have been shaken deep due to the consumer’s changed consumption habits and habitat, and its value proposition changed forever. It’s almost akin to consumers not wanting to pay to consume Coke/Pepsi anymore. In that sense it is as good as creating a brand new entertainment industry, creating brand new value and brand new revenue models at the same time as preserving the existing value/revenue base
What opportunities do the wide scale global LTE roll-outs offer for the music industry?
Fatter access at affordable prices has always created a massive boost for consumption. At one point it was content that was king, then the portable device became the centre of the digital universe and now it’s the war of the OSes. The underlying factor across all these spurring growth (or preventing growth) has always been access and in this particular case it’s the global LTE and LTE Advanced roll- outs that will accelerate growth, especially in large countries such as India, Indonesia and China. This [growth of access] will be nothing short of an internet revolution, due to the wide-scale consumption it will create as common people’s daily habits change. To use an oft-used line – the dots will stay connected.
What’s your prediction for the most exciting development of 2013?
I guess there’ll be many developments. What is important to me is the wide–spread development of technology that enables, changes and transforms the common man’s life and for this part of the world currently that is most definitely faster pipe access at amazingly cheap rates.