The Vibe aims to bring a thematic experience of real stories – Asad
Content creation on platforms like YouTube has seen a spurt in the past few months. But most of the players are flirting with either the non-fiction space or done-to-death comedy genre. A new platform called The Vibe, which believes in creating real life stories with original programming, launches Away From Home – Discovering The Andaman Islands. The series that premieres today, June 8, 2016 will explore the untouched beauty of the surreal island.
This is their second series after the tremendously well received A Himalayan Travelogue – A Way Back Home that aired on MTV Indies. Pandolin spoke to Asad Abid, Executive Producer, The Vibe to understand the unique aspects about their platform, the new series and their upcoming programming line-up.
Tell us about The Vibe as a platform and the brains behind the concept.
I originally had a production house called Shoelace Films and we did branded content for digital and TV. Post that, I felt that at Shoelace, we were not creating original content and were just offering branded content to people who wanted videos made. We saw this space as a new avenue of storytelling. That’s when we started creating original content and that’s how the first series, A Himalayan Travelogue, came about.
After produced the series independently, I took it to TV channels. But licensing content for TV channels is not done here in India; it’s done internationally. We managed to license it finally to Viacom 18 for a year and it screened on MTV Indies and it went on to become one of their best performing shows. We saw a cult response on Facebook and YouTube too. And we realized that we wanted to do more of this stuff. People were really tuned into the show and that gave us more inspiration to create more content on an independent scale. That’s when we decided to do a season 2. We decided not to go with the long format of storytelling. We designed it as a short web series this time and took the series to another destination, which is The Andamans and we called it Away From Home, with a new protagonist.
Our team comprises four people – Karthik Rao who heads programming, Suveer Bajaj, Founder of FoxyMoron who is an advisor and came on board in his personal capacity and the CFO who helps in getting the money to make the content. The four of us have been doing this for two years now and putting together a catalogue. We have 12 properties which we intend to release in the coming two years – one every two months.
We are also trying to make a wide contributor and consumer-driven community for like-minded folks. We like to look at The Vibe as the extension to the offline world with events and other curated stuff. We have also been trying to program content around people, lifestyle, culture and are doing mostly authentic and experiential storytelling. We are also trying to push it with technology, with the use of VR (Virtual Reality) and making it very immersive.
According to you, what sets The Vibe apart from other platforms?
Currently, the content on The Vibe stands out because of the certain detailing we bring about in the experience. If you see the current Internet content space, it’s a lot to do with gags and comedy sketches. And now we see a new age fiction space emerging. But there is no storytelling in a non-fictional and authentic space. In India, non-fiction has always been considered documentary and that has always been considered a boring, serious format. But this series is light-hearted, ambient, chilled, current and new-age. We also produce original music at The Vibe which gives a true audio-video experience. Our production quality is also very high. I don’t think anyone is putting in so much attention to detail.
At The Vibe, what is the goal that you’ll are working towards? What is the programming plan like?
The objective of The Vibe is to tell people about awesome stories around us and bring a thematic experience of real stories. We have a cover story feature which we will put out once in every two months. Our next story is about snowboarding in India which is called Curry Pow. That’s also a first of its kind because no one else has explored the snowboarding scene in India. We have other short format shoulder content which comes out of our main cover story.
Tell us something about your new series Away from Home – Discovering the Andamans.
The series follows Tara and her story of how she made the Andamans her home and how she takes you around the island in a traveler-like fashion. She goes and finds spots where you can have a great time and introspect and get inspired. It’s more in-depth and detailed, tells you about the experiences you can have in Andamans like snorkeling, scuba-diving and kayaking. The series has six episodes, which are five minutes each and we are releasing all the episodes on June 8, which is World Oceans Day.
What were the learnings from your first series, A Himalayan Travelogue, that have helped during the latest series?
This time around, I didn’t wait to show my content to everyone. The last time, everyone said that they loved the content but nobody was taking it ahead. That’s when I felt that there is a void to showcase such stuff and hence I thought, ‘Why not go ahead and create it!’ Brands are now looking at providing experiences.
How do you go about collaborating with creators for the series?
When we go and pitch the idea to the collaborators, there are no expectations because mostly the collaborators are waiting for an opportunity like this. That’s where we get the support of the community. So, the protagonist Tara had to shoot for three weeks but she didn’t expect anything commercially. She understood that we are currently not monetizing the content and she was ready to take us around places where no one else has been to. When there is a reason enough from collaborators to contribute and go that extra mile, that’s how the content stands out.
How does the revenue generation work for your platform?
Currently, I have raised the money from friends and family and we have an editorial team of five-six people. We are looking at a seed fund to produce our catalogue of 12 formats which we have already planned. We are also actively speaking to media buying agencies who are looking at collaborating with us. There are various opportunities but we are looking at creating a branded content atmosphere in The Vibe, wherein, we subtly mix the brand culture, not the product. We are doing the content first and then seeing which brand will fit in this space.
What has led to this spurt in digital platforms and how do you see it growing further?
The space is really crowded right now. People are thinking about technology and distribution first and not thinking about the content per-se. Currently, the market is just flooded with media buys on digital. No one is counting on organic growth or cultivating a brand culture around the content they are making. If the companies move a little bit of budget from marketing, distribution and technology towards great content, then they don’t need to do half of those things that they are currently doing.