We have been writing about T-Series, the Indian label and film production company that specialises in Bollywood soundtracks, for several years but have been most intrigued by its move onto YouTube, especially as it began to overtake PewDiePie in terms of channel subscribers (although that got very, very ugly on PewDiePie’s side).
Now T-Series has just passed 100m subscribers, making it the first YouTube channel to reach this milestone. In doing so, it has been recognised by Guinness World Records. Make no mistake, this is a significant development.
What is behind this phenomenal growth? Well, the first thing to note is just how enormous YouTube is in India. There were 265m YouTube users in the country as of April this year – meaning it reaches 20% of the population. YouTube also recently named it its fastest-growing market.
Earlier this month we published a special report on YouTube in India, speaking to Pawan Agarwal, YouTube’s head of music content partnerships for India & South Asia, about why the video platform is such a cultural phenomenon there. “The YouTube journey in India is incredibly inspiring and deeply rooted in India’s internet growth story; improved access and low-cost data have turbocharged the growth of YouTube in India,” he told us.
And it is not just a domestic sensation, with YouTube offering a whole new way for Indian acts to connect globally – reaching far beyond the Indian diaspora around the world. In April this year, for instance, it was Indian and Latin Music artists who were dominating YouTube’s Global Top Artists chart.
While labels and industry bodies in the West might be grinding their teeth over the value gap, there is a strong argument that YouTube effectively is the music industry in India. It has launched its YouTube Music subscription app there recently and, while international DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music are now in the market and local players like JioSaavn and Gaana are making good headway, they all significantly trail behind YouTube. And the importance of YouTube is something that T-Series was the first to really understand and get behind – hence the landmark 100m number.
Its channel is packed with content and comes with a number of sub-channels (like T-Series Kids Hut, T-Series Apna Punjab, Bollywood Classics and T-Series Kannada). It really is a masterclass in content and audience segmentation.
Many have long agued that India will be the boom market in the coming years, but it is also leading the way in how to utilise digital platforms to their full potential. Those outside of India can learn a staggering amount about marketing and positioning from T-Series. This 100m milestone is just the start of a very long journey.