Percept in the News

A look back at Sunburn’s decade-long journey in India
20 February, 2017

Live music festivals in India, in the last few years, have grown to become one of the big properties for brands to reach out to the youth. The festivals, which see youth participating in huge numbers, give brands immense visibility which is likely to convert into sales. Be it Viacom18’s Vh1 Supersonic or Enchanted Valley Carnival (EVC) or NH7 Weekender or Percept Media’ Sunburn, these music and dance festivals have been getting immense support from the sponsors, courtesy the increasing number of footfalls.

Sunburn, which is also said to be the first large-scale EDM festival in India, started in 2007 as a 3-day music festival. An eclectic mix of music, entertainment, experiences, celebration and lifestyle, Sunburn has now entered in its 10th year and grown multi-fold during this time. Percept claims that Sunburn seeded music tourism in India. In the past nine years of its existence, Sunburn has brought together renowned Indian and International artists to entertain thousands of dance music lovers through its various formats that reach out to fans across India & Asia.
As the main festival that used to happen in Goa every December (held in Pune in 2016) continued to fetch good response from the visitors and sponsors, Sunburn also started with two sub-brands – Sunburn Arena and Sunburn Campus. Sunburn main festival is now a 4-day music festival where multiple-artists perform, Sunburn Arena takes one popular artist on a multi-city tour in the country. In January, this year, Sunburn Arena was held in Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai with David Guetta. The events were supported by advertisers including Ola, Renault, Gionee, Fbb, Skybags and Ran Ban. Sunburn Campus, meanwhile, is a music event that the company organizes in many colleges in India.
Talking about the historical journey of Sunburn, Karan Singh, CEO, Sunburn told AdAge India that the company’s background is around doing corporate events and it’s a service provider. “Sunburn was more as an experiment as we wanted something that is our own Intellectual Property is our own intellectual property. Since December is a peak season for tourism in Goa, we started off with it and found it as a good opportunity. We had a pretty encouraging response in the first year as a few thousand people showed up for the event. It was a niche event but had good vibe and got a good response overall. So, then we decided to keep going with it and to invest the bit more in it and see what the potential in it is and see how much we can grow this event.”
Sunburn was held in 2008 again but Singh shared that it’s in 2009 that the festival grew a lot as they managed to book one of world’s leading DJs Armin Van Buuren (who was no. 1 at that time).
And then, it was no looking back. “With each passing year, we managed to really scale the festival up, add more stages, increase the caliber of the artists that were coming in. We has popular international artists like Above & Beyond, Axwell, Paul Van Dyk coming in.”
While Sunburn main festival had kicked-off well and was doing good, the company, in 2012 debut the concept of Sunburn Arena and the first tour for the same was in Mumbai and Bangalore with artist Avicii, a swedish musician, DJ. It was the first time that a Sunburn event happened outside of Goa. Singh shared that the event in Mumbai, ticket price of which was around Rs 8000 was successful.
“We took the experience to many of the biggest cities in India like Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore. We did some exciting tours with Swedish House Maffia, Tiesto, Amen,” he added.
In 2012, Sunburn also started doing Sunburn Campus in the colleges and introduced a smaller format for tier 2 and tier 3 markets called Sunburn Reload in 2013. Sunburn Reload was organized for around 2000-4000 people.
“Since then, we have these four-five formats that we are dabbling in. We have been growing the brands, exploring new markets. We are recognized as one of the no. 1 EDM festivals in the world; we are recognized in the top 3 by all the conferences and by the international music summit alongside Tomorrowland and Ultra. As part of social media following, we have originally grown to have over 2 million fans on Facebook, and 4-5 million if you have include all the platforms. Whichever way you look at it, in terms of the number of events, on-ground attendance, the sponsorship that we get, we are up and world’s best.”
Talking about the sponsors, Singh shared that numbers of brands it has been very interesting progression because many brands like alcohols, beer, spirits brands are very interested in partnership with us. But still Kingfisher, Red Bull are their long term partners. Over the year, the way Sunburn events are becoming platforms to connect with the youth, the brand has been seeing interest in partnership from brands including Gionee, Renault, Ola cabs and Skybags. “We have good 7-8 big brands with us and not just for the on-ground activation at the event but across social media connectivity, engaging with our fans.”
Singh further shared that the sponsorship rates have more than doubled in the last three years. has been huge actually. “We actually give our sponsors a year long engagement program with the youth across the entire country which not too many other properties can actually offer.”
Sunburn events typically target 16-25 year olds. That said, the audience also extends beyond that. The events target SEC A, A+ since the tickets for a 4 day event is around Rs 8000. Arena’s ticket prices are around Rs 2000-2500.
For Sunburn Arena shows, the company chooses metros. On being asked why, Singh said, “We do it with around 10000+ people and the city needs to have that kind of potential. That said, whenever we have explored any new market, we have got very good response. We have gone to Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata and got a great response from all these markets. So, it is obvious that potential is there and it’s not only limited to Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore. That is the potential for international artist for music festivals probably 8-10 cities in India right now.”
Out of all the markets, Singh shared that Hyderabad has been great.
The Marketing is split into marketing that the company does by spending money and marketing that it does through its partners. “So, overall value of the marketing plan would be probably $20 million for the entire season of Sunburn. Last year our media plan was for Rs 100 crore.
For the Sunburn Arena events, the company starts marketing a month or two before the event is scheduled while for the main festival, it advertisers around six months prior to the event. While digital and social media play a big role, the company also does TV, Print, Radio and Outdoor advertising.
Here’s to more such decade-long journey for Sunburn.