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 Percept in the News

Sunburn betting on entertainment apart from Cricket, Bollywood to grow
21 December, 2012

Six years ago, Shailendra Singh, joint MD of Percept, organised a rock and metal music festival Metalfest and soon after an electronic dance music show or EDM called Sunburn in Goa. Quickly, he realised, that EDM, which is primarily high-energy dance music, was a money spinner, attracting over 10,000 attendees in its first year. Since then, Singh, 49, has built something of a cult brand around Sunburn, increasing attendance to over 100,000 in last year's edition. He thinks that in 2013, Sunburn can attract 50% more attendees. Dressed in a black Armani full-sleeved T-shirt, replete with Sunburn logos, he now wants to grow the brand into perhaps India's first "glocal" music brand. If top artistes such as Carl Cox, Armin Van Buren and Gareth Emery have been a strong magnet to attract concert-goers in the past, Singh is now looking beyond these chart busters to build Brand Sunburn.

"The brand and experience is the magnet for concert goers, not just the line up," says Singh unequivocally in his Lower Parel office in South Mumbai a couple of weeks before the event. The week before the interview Singh was in London badgering music promoters to send their acts to India to perform to a spend thrift audience willing to pay Rs 13,000 for a ticket. The challenge for Sunburn, according to Mahesh 'Mash' Chauhan, founder of branding and marketing consultancy Salt, is to keep the target demographic engaged. While they may be at Goa (and elsewhere) for the music, it helps to keep this hyper-networked generation otherwise entertained. "Rather than competing with between cricket and movies, Sunburn has also emerged as a place for students and young professionals to reunite and party," he adds. And with social networks such as Facebook— where Sunburn has some 300,000 fans and counting—it has also been able to build its equity with its core audience. Unlike in previous editions, the stress this year is on an experience Basketball, volleyball, rock climbing and hammocks abound, besides concert stages (four last year, with one more in 2013 for high-energy psychedelic tunes) to keep serious concert goers and the curious amused. Singh is well aware of the tight rope walk he is attempting—keeping the 30% of his attendees who are EDM fans and the remaining 70% who are a mix of curious first timers and floaters, who often do the unexpected like ask for first row seats in a EDM festival.

Despite all this Singh, who played cricket professionally before starting the entertainment and media Percept 28 years ago, thinks that people are firmly looking beyond the staple of Bollywood and cricket for their entertainment. He points to the increasingly heterogeneous crowd at Sunburn—students, young executives, politicians and sundry celebs—as proof of this. What's more, up to 40% of this year's attendees are from the smaller towns of Udaipur and Ahmedabad--signs that a predominately metro city festival is headed experito the hinterland. Despite being six years old, Singh hasn't had it easy building the Sunburn property—dodged by allegations of law and order violations by locals and state administrations. As yet, Percept doesn't have the official go ahead for its Goa gig, but Singh is confident things will fall into place.