We talked to Aghin Johnson of SocialMob about its expertise in business solutions, artist management and brand management and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Aghin Johnson: We can all agree that this year was indeed an emotional rollercoaster. Well, the good side of this period was that we got more family and me time.
I was extremely worried to see my loved ones fall sick. Thanks to God, they all have recovered and are doing fine now. It was indeed a tough time, and like all bad times, this too shall pass.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SocialMob.
Aghin Johnson: I am the founder of a media-tech initiative named SocialMob. SocialMob is a unique global community, the first of its kind, a truly Indian initiative.
We support over 1000+ Independent artists from around the world with a vision to help artists lead an independent music career in the truest sense.
Based on Kochi, Kerala, we started off with our venture to create a global community connected via music, and thus the journey began.
The company was ideated back in 2013 after understanding various gaps in the Music industry as a whole. Yes, of course, there are other streaming platforms as well, but they all address the consumer side rather than the curator side.
This has resulted in a lack of discoverability for a good 90% of brilliant artists in the community who are not backed by label giants. We are addressing this pain point in terms of creating a sustainable ecosystem for music lovers and music producers.
How does SocialMob innovate?
Aghin Johnson: Our company is doing what nobody else is doing in terms of the independent music scene. The platform helps listeners connect with the artists and vice versa. This unique feature creates an ecosystem which in turn lets them connect with other people with similar musical taste. We’re working on “Music Networking”, a new concept where music is the primary element that connects all.
Our innovation is not limited to product innovation. We study the science of music theory which aids us to build a unique Algorithm that is truly the first of its kind.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Aghin Johnson: Even though we started 2020 on a positive note, the unexpected pandemic has really put us on the back foot. To bootstrap the project, we have other departments name pi touch, which work with other businesses to help them with digital and brand strategies. With Coronavirus pandemic, we saw business struggling for clients and that in turn affected us.
For the Artist community, this has hit them very hard as for most of the artists their gigs and live events are the real sources of income. With no avenue to perform, artists struggled with their livelihood, which was indeed painful to watch.
It was indeed a business and operational nightmare for all of us as coordination with team members and strategizing for the future became so difficult.
We see all crises as an opportunity to improvise. Indian music Industry which was dominated by movies saw a huge vacuum of content as movies stopped releasing. This made audiophiles venture and discover more which created a boom in the Independent music industry. This helped us in bringing more listeners and artists to our network.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Aghin Johnson: Oh yes, I am sure CEOs of not just start-ups, but even big organizations had to make difficult choices like no other in this unprecedented time. Indeed it’s difficult to take tough stands and choices, but at the end of the day, we do it because we believe it is for the collective good.
The lessons we’ve learned are a lot, hard to pinpoint, but one thing I can mention here will be a team strength. If you have a strong team, who is committed, it makes it easy to overcome tough times.
So this will be something I want companies to consider.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Aghin Johnson: Well, music is our passion, so you can guess what has been the stress buster. My team brings in new tracks for the ops to work from home, which is really a stress buster. Also online games like “Among Us” helped in team bonding during the lockdowns. Who would have thought?
Secondly, it was about distractions. We all distracted ourselves with a lot of milestones we set to achieve during the lockdown period; this has worked in our favor.
Also, we were lucky enough to be able to go for our yearly two-day picnic for unwinding, in December. This time around, it was very different for everyone due to stress and anxiety. This is usually our yearly plan to recoup for the coming year.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Aghin Johnson: When we started, we were one of the sole teams which initiated this concept. I remember a lot of people asking me, “who will listen to music online and stream music?” But it all changed in a flash with the 4G revolution. A-lot of streaming platforms moved from the west to the east. But we knew what our exact differentiation was and we stuck to that.
Keep innovating and keep being motivated – this is what we need to do to stay in the game.
Your final thoughts?
Aghin Johnson: My final thoughts are summarized by the following few lines which align with my experience.
Never set out to chase your dream, expecting to have a rainbow carpet laid out to you. Be ready to rise up more than you anticipate, each time you fall. This is a tough journey, but as long as you choose the right cheerleaders and attitude, you will always find your way to the goal. If the old adage is believed when hard work pays then make sure you wait to collect your reward.
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