This panel on the Bombaywaali Summit was all things fun and significant. The fab duo behind BooksOnToast Sharin Bhatti Nair and Anuya Jakatdar curated the discussion on women turning their passion into content. It featured Mae Thomas, indie music podcaster Maed in India, Sakshi Juneja, founder of Gaysi, and the super popular Youtuber Prajakta Koli.
This discussion, by bringing an extremely relevant dialogue in place, brought about powerful ideas of curation. The panel highlighted interesting key notes about content, which is considered a primary factor today when it comes to stories and entertainment.
- The panelists, who are diversified content curators, shared their first breaks and the way forward.
- The discussion elaborated into impact of digital content and its various genres.
- This panel shed light on the relevance and periodicity of content curated by these women respectively.
- The speakers shared their sustainability, growth and challenges that go by.
Content curation and high-points
Moderators, Anuya and Sharin, commenced the conversation, asking the three women what they stand for and how it helps them bring content to the table.
“India depicts the epitomy of struggling musicians, if you’re not in Bollywood,” – Mae Thomas
Mae, who has always been in the radio space, recalled how her stint with Indie music happened when she was freelancing for a year and came in contact with relatable people. “If you notice, there are about nine radio channels in Bombay, eight of which only play Bollywood all day. I wanted to establish a space for independent music where people can not only perform but also talk about it,” she recollected.
Mae’s idea of podcasts is deep rooted with experiences and people getting a chance to talk about and discuss these experiences. She has not only been curating her own podcasts, but is also helping other companies make theirs. “Not much much gets covered about indie music and other genres of music that so many people are capable of creating. I feel these podcasts are a chance to showcase what the mainstream media is not covering.”
“We gay people are now in fashion. Everyone wants a piece of us. This journey from being non-existent in India to – ‘Hey! Gay people exist’, has been great!” – Sakshi Juneja
From a place where there was no mention about Indian lesbians to now where there’s acknowledgement, especially with the recent SC judgment, Sakshi says it’s been a fairly fine journey.
Sakshi, who started Gaysi, an online Queer blog with a special focus on the Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LBT) community, believes there’s a lot more to be done to bring out hidden conversations through content.
She believes India has covered a lot in the past ten years and social media is a platform that’s become valuable for all sorts of information. “Gaysi is a result of the reluctance there has been in the society. I want brands and groups to look at us as a good market. We don’t want to be limited to a news item. We need to be kept in a regular activity, kind of a thing especially for people who curate,” she urged.
“Took the plunge because I didn’t have or need a plan B” – Prajakta Koli
Prajakta recalled how she had her life sorted and planned out initially. The Youtuber, whose dream was to become a a radio jockey, started interning early to learn the ropes at a radio station. It wasn’t long enough when she realised this was not actually her final calling. “I just had a plan A. There was nothing planned for after when my plan bombed. Youtube happened eventually. As creator now, I would just say my USP are the hits I receive,” she added.
The periodicity of content
Anuya and Sharin had an interesting question in place about consistency of content and how it affects the viewers at large. Mae, whose show releases weekly, said consistency is important to keep things in check and make an audience of one’s own. “My post comes out every Monday. What varies is the time range. The whole show can sometimes be for two minutes, five minutes or maybe an hour, too. It all depends on the the content I’m putting out that day,” she said. She also added how social media is something she engages in every day since it’s necessary in this age and time.
Sakshi’s agenda ranges from publishing about 20 articles on the website to organising events and open mic every two months. Instagram, she believes, is a significant part of the whole game now.
Consistency is something that has majorly helped Prajakta. “I never stopped putting videos even in the beginning when the growth was slow. Establishing periodic schedules and following them religiously have got me where I am today,” she shared.
The relevance of content
When it comes to curating content, the relevance always come into play. Prajakta’s idea of creating content is largely based on relatability. “I believe content plays on relatability and reliability. I try and put out something only when it has happened with me and to others, too, for sure,” she said. Prajakta, who is also working on fiction, is making it a point to maintain the real quotient in it, by drawing inspiration from everyday life.
Sakshi discussed how the mainstream media is still hung up upon the same topics, asking the same questions. She, along with her team, works towards bringing a new wave of change. “We work with a lot with freelancers and other groups as well. We’ve been focused in bringing out LBT and non-binary content as well. Our idea of content is everything that’s real and happening in our lives but people are still not ready to talk about it,” she said.
Sakshi, through the website and themed events, is bringing out conversations that people are still having behind closed doors.
Mae voiced that while podcasts are trendy these days, it’s extremely important at first to spread awareness about what they really are. “A lot of people ask as to what exactly are podcasts. It’s necessary to make everyone understand that these are on demand audios, something equivalent to Netflix or Youtube. You can listen to them whenever, however you want.”
The talk about sustainability
The moderators brought forward an essential bit of how the content market is shaping up. Discussing with the speakers about the sustainability each of their content holds, they wanted to know how the money rolls in as well.
“It takes time to set the ball rolling,” – Prajakta
Prajakta recollects how it took her about a year and a half to get things going in the profitable direction. “There was a time when we weren’t making any money. That is when consistency also played a major role. We didn’t stop and gradually the brands started noticing us. Post that, everything has been shaping up well.”
“Would love to collaborate with Indian brands and see where we can take it forward,” – Sakshi
Sakshi spoke about their dealings with brands and their quest to achieve certain targets they’ve envisioned. “Whether it is through an entry fee or other freelance contracts, we’ve tried to be as inclusive as possible. We started doing events in 2012 post which, we started engaging in partnerships for bar nights and open mics. For instance, Tinder has been amazing. We did a 12 comic series on Tinder which did well. Whatever we earn from from our digital content partnerships, that money goes back to Gaysi. We pay everyone who helps us in even a very small measure. In that sense, we are fine. ”
Sakshi revealed how they’re trying to collaborate largely with Indian brands because that will make a huge difference. “This is India, you need time, connections and jugaad.”
“With podcasts, it’s about quality and loyalty,” – Mae
Mae said podcasting is one medium people are discovering on an everyday basis. “Yes, the audience is growing consistently. I’ve been in the medium for three years now and I have people coming up and asking how and where can they have access to podcasts. The audience is growing and what I am excited about is that podcasts are addictive,” she reflected.
She also announced she wants to create a huge and diversified audience for audio media in general. “I want to create podcasts for my salon lady or the watchman, for that matter. Something most people can listen to while they’re going about their normal lives. Curiosity is what turns into money,” she added.
And as Sharin concluded in the end, saying it’s important women are championing content and moving forward because “the world is our oyster”.