Brief Profile of Mr. Shahir Muneer
Shahir Muneer, is the Founder & Director of Divo, one of India’s leading and well-established digital media and music company based out of South India. He started the company with, Vishu Ramaswamy in 2014 and in less than a decade has established Divo as one of India’s largest multi-platform online video networks (aka as Multi Channel Networks / MCNs) working as enterprise content partners with 50+ digital platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Amazon Prime Video, amongst other platforms, worldwide.
Shahir started his career with tech majors like HCL Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services for 8 years in marketing and project management in media and entertainment domain.
Later the entrepreneur bug bit him and he moved on to start his entrepreneurial journey in 2012 with Divo with a small project of consulting a global Internet major to onboard one of India’s leading TV networks on their video platform. From this single consulting project, he
built Divo into other areas across online video, music and digital content marketing. Today Divo has presence across Chennai, Bengaluru & Hyderabad with a roster of over 1000+ content creators, artists, influencers, talents and specialises in catering solutions for the South Indian market. Shahir has keen interest in music, and video games and likes to travel and do food hopping. He is an ardent supporter of Italy and AC Milan football teams since he was 7!
Passionate in Marketing caught up with Mr. Shahir to discuss about the vision & idea behind Divo and to understand his take on digital media industry.
It’s been nearly a decade, you started Divo, can you take us through your vision and the idea behind Divo?
In 2011, I had left my stint from corporate careers with tech majors, and had been looking at the online video and especially YouTube as an area of interest and growth in India, as it was picking up momentum in the west. This resulted in chasing this dream for close to 2 years trying to work out a business model and network with people and see if this can be a viable entrepreneurship journey. Once I was able to validate my business model with Google working with me, and eventually with multiple media companies, Divo was truly something we knew had a future. Back in 2013 and 2014, along with my business partner Vishu, we had spent a lot of time to understand the industry, pain points, opportunities, which many of its devised then is still bearing fruit today and opening up new markets and clientele. We have been very clear on expanding our services within the digital domain and not be stuck only in one segment which is why, we are probably the only company in India today that is a MCN, Enterprise content partners to various OTT, an influencer marketing agency, a movie aggregator and licensor for leading OTTs, a music label and distributor, and so on , all in one roof and having a sizable market share in each, especially since we are a bootstrapped start-up.
How has the digital music industry evolved over the years, especially with the growth of music streaming apps? Has there been any drastic changes in the way IP and music label partnerships take place?
Digital music is in the growth space and it’s not going to stop. Music has always been consumed in form of physical form to caller ring tone download, and now a much more convenient route of digital user of streaming. The monetisation and user acquisition is in the growth phase now, and is only going to grow further. We ourselves have seen close to 100% year on year growth in the streaming volume with all our digital streaming partner apps. The market is increasing in size, there is more content coming out across regions, genres, film, non-film, etc and there are more players coming in. I think the difference now is, the market is driven by handful of labels – few Indian majors and the rest by international majors and the rest of the market is led by few international distribution companies, all of whom have a large scale, billions of dollars in valuation and footprint globally. This is who we are competing with, and we as a Made in India, bootstrapped company is going toe to toe with them. We always started as underdog in the music journey where we were questioned about our existence and entry to the market. Today feels gratifying when those same people accept our presence and have cordial relationships. Surely, we have arrived and only going to go up further. The market will be driven by these majors as they have global mandates to have market share increase, and they will look to sign up all the best films, the best artists. It will only be a good time for producers of music. In terms of changes in industry, it was only a matter of time where artists did not need to depend on a traditional label to release their music and there are multiple do it yourself music distribution options out there. So there is going to be growth all over.
How will the digital media and music industry grow, given the current situation?
We are yet to enter the sunshine period, and is only rising. The next 1 billion is coming online and what India could not yet achieve in terms of say a physical infrastructure like that of China, but India’s digital infrastructure economy and story is going to be the game changer. We ourselves are a perfect example of how a bootstrapped start-up with the right business model and effort can make money in this digital economy. It’s a great time to be in this market.
What has been the impact on the audio streaming platforms with respect to regional music during the last 15 months of lockdown?
There has been momentary lull due to non-release of multiple film projects. It will pick up the pace soon, it’s only a matter of time. This however has helped us develop and fix our areas where we lack.
Has the pandemic been a boon or a bane for the digital media and music industry?
Both. Individuals or companies dependent on advertising revenue like via YouTube or Facebook, have had revenue losses, but however things have picked up and is back to normal. If you can weather that storm, you are equipped to survive any ups and downs that may come. It also brings up thought process to enable business continuity regardless of situation, which will help in long run.
You recently launched an influencer marketing vertical, how has that been shaping considering the huge demand currently?
It has been growing phenomenally well, not just by the demand from the market, but our investment in our solutions offered to the brand, keep us at the forefront of the market and preferred partner. We are investing in integrating this division across all aspects related to its domain to make our offerings 360 degrees.
The effect of new guidelines by ASCI on Influencer Marketing and how it is going to affect Divo?
While users predominantly know where there is a product placement or sponsored activity, just by putting the disclaimer or the mention of required disclosure is not going to affect apart from users being informed there is a paid activity. I think today audience has accepted content creators and influencers in digital space have to work with brands, and they do like to see it, than a traditional ad being served to them 10s of times a day. Plus those who are not interested can forward and move on to the non-sponsored part of the content.
Has the Second Wave of Covid-19 impacted your business? If so, is it better now?
Apart from few film release delays that have resulted in music soundtracks getting delayed, nothing major in terms of impact.
What are your upcoming plans for the company?
We are growing all our divisions simultaneously and have empowered teams to go to market without interdependency – be it music, movies aggregation, digital content, agency business. And we are already working at a Pan India scale now, and not limited to regional market.
Divo is one of India’s leading and well-established digital media and music company, based out of South India. Founded by Shahir Muneer in 2012 and co-led by him and Vishu Ramaswamy since 2014, the company currently has over 75 associates with presence across Chennai, Bengaluru, Cochin, Mumbai, Delhi & Hyderabad.
In less than a decade, Divo Digital has now become one of India’s largest multi-platform online video networks (aka as Multi-Channel Networks / MCNs) working as enterprise content partners with 50+ digital platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix amongst other platforms, worldwide. Their online video content partners include leading TV channels, movie rights holders, film studios, music labels, artists, and various digital content creators and YouTubers across South India.
Currently, Divo Music is one of the largest independent music distributors and publishers in South India and has been working with labels, artists, musicians to help distribute and monetise their music across digital, radio, tv, etc. It has also married it with its content solutions to brands thus, helping artists/musicians monetise beyond royalties. Divo Music holds the
distinction of having released 2019’s highest viewed music video in India & the world’s 7th highest viewed music video – Rowdy Baby.
Divo’s agency division is one of the leading and faster-growing digital, influencer, and content marketing companies in India. As early as 2016, the company ventured into this space and to date has delivered over 100+ projects for over 70 brands across various digital platforms. Divo has a roster of over 1000+ content creators, artists, influencers, talents and specialises in catering solutions for the South Indian market