A creator can only do so much, but talent management agencies can help them scale up: Arpan Soni of IPLIX Media

In an interaction with BuzzInContent.com, Arpan Soni, Founding Member and VP-Creators Management, IPLIX Media, touched on various nuances of talent management in the influencer marketing space

Shreya Negi
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Arpan Soni

With digital mediums gaining increasing momentum since the pandemic, there has been a spurt in the recognition of both- Talent and Talent Management in the country. Until a few years ago, creators used to find it hard to explain what they did for a living, but there has been a complete turn of fortunes now and a big part of it is due to the talent management agencies that have been working tirelessly behind the scenes.

During his interaction with BuzzInContent.com, Arpan Soni, Founding Member and VP-Creators Management, IPLIX Media, stated that prior to the influx of ‘covid creators’ in the pandemic times, the space was highly being dominated by YouTube Influencers or YouTubers. So much so that even with the rollout of TikTok, the popularity of ‘YouTuber gene’ didn’t seem to diminish.

“But with TikTok being banned in the country and the introduction of Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, the influencer marketing in India skyrocketed as people began realising the power of content and began exploring the same along with traditional marketing,” he said.

Going forward, Soni also pointed out that before the onset of the pandemic, most of the agencies were mainly focused on YouTubers and had a very unilateral vision when it came to managing talent. However, with things changing during the pandemic, the agency mindset also began to transform and they made it a point to manage people who create powerful content - irrespective of their platform or follower base.

“We wanted to be expert in all the categories of content, albeit tech, entertainment, finance, travel, etc. and in order to do so, we began to onboard talents from all walks of life - including Tech Burner, Saloni Gaur, Thugesh, Captain Nick, Neha Doodles, etc.,” he added.

Furthermore, he also pointed out that the intent and vision of IPLIX Media is to believe in the power of content and help talent by empowering them rather than focusing on specific categories that would just help them make business.

“Before Covid, it was all about brands for creators as they chose the agencies which got them the best possible business but with the transition that took place post-pandemic, the creators also realised that they need proper PR management and positioning, followed by content strategy support, IP generation, events and collaborations amongst others,” he said.

Elaborating on the agency’s plans and goals, Soni also shared that IPLIX aims to not just meet the expectations of the talent that they manage but step it up a notch by aiming to bring something new to the table.

Citing an example, Soni shared that when Shlok aka Tech Burner decided to get into the entrepreneurial segment, it happened in a partnership with IPLIX and the two launched ‘Layers’ - a phone skin venture.

Commenting on whether the agency has plans of helping their talent fulfil the desire of merchandising, Soni said that merch in his views is not a very sustainable approach for building brands - because the product shelf life in that case is similar to that of the talent and once the creator loses significance in the mindspace of their viewers, the products become irrelevant.

“How we look at things is that we don’t want to work on a brand that’s built on the talent’s face value and is actually adding value to the consumers’ lives because only then will the repeat purchase happen and the brand would be able to stay strong in the longer run. Eventually, the brand is a second revenue stream for the creator - which is why it shouldn’t be dependent on the talent’s content and relevance,” he elaborated.

Soni stated that talent management agencies play a very important role because a creator one can only do so much, and it is also important that the business side should be managed by people who have expertise in it if the plan is to scale.

“A creator’s expertise lies in the kind of content that he/she rolls out on a regular basis, but apart from content, there are a number of things that a talent desires - like brand deals, IP generation, etc. which can be done seamlessly only by the agencies who manage them, given that they have the potential,” he pointed out.

Touching upon some of the milestone achieved by IPLIX in 2022, Soni stated that the agency was managing just over a dozen creators earlier but they went on to add another 55 people from different categories in the past year, leading to a roster of over 70 creators.

“The best thing that happened to me was ‘The Thugesh Show’ as it was truly a dream come true with the kind of reception- the engagement, the views, etc. that we got for the IP, which was far beyond our expectations,” he added.

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Commenting on what led to the conceptualisation of ‘The Thugesh Show’, Soni stated that the team wanted to differentiate themselves and create something unique in the comparatively limited and difficult domain of ‘roasting’ as running out of fuel is a major challenge therein.

Having said that, Soni also candidly shared that because Thugesh is keen on exploring acting opportunities, the idea behind the IP was to show his prowess and potential in the same - because he was also a model first and had played various roles in short films.

“While brainstorming on what could be done next in an innovative way, we first started experimenting with Thugesh by getting him to introduce and play new character roles in his short-form videos and Reels,” he said.

Furthermore, he also went on to emphasise that in the YouTube space, there were not many IPs which were as big as ‘The Thugesh Show’ - apart from some talk shows or podcasts that had their own full-fledged studio set-ups in place.

“But when it came to shows, we didn’t want to do it just for the sake of it and rather wanted it to be entertaining in a way that the audience actually enjoys watching it which is why we introduced sections like gaming and memes on the IP. In fact, the memes that are showcased on the show cannot be found elsewhere on the internet because there is a specific team that particularly works to create memes for the IP,” he added.

Upon being questioned as to why the team decided to go with YouTube for ‘The Thugesh Show’ instead of an OTT, Soni replied that creators want to prove themselves on the platforms where they debuted and then explore other options.

“The objective behind doing this on YouTube was that Thugesh has always been a YouTube-first creator which is why we wanted to show his power  there and then try and explore different IPs for OTT platforms,” he said.

In Soni’s views, platforms like Amazon MiniTV are still at a nascent stage in the country and thus do not offer an audience base as large as YouTube.

Moving ahead, Soni also shared that the vision and inspiration behind ‘The Thugesh Show’ also stemmed from ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’, which has not only sustained since a long time but is still being watched and loved by audiences from all walks of life as ‘nobody gets bored with Kapil’.

When asked about how many episodes would the IP have in-store, Soni stated that the plan is to roll out at least 10-12 shows and then probably come up with the next season after six months.

Moreover, the most crucial objective for IPLIX, in the views of Soni, is to ensure that each and every talent that is being managed by the agency should be happy by the work that Iplix is doing in the form of aiding them in fulfilling their desires and requirements.

“No matter how big we become, we don’t want to compromise on our quality at all. Our only objective at hand is to ensure that the quality remains constant and only improves over the years. However, if we happen to think that the work quality is being compromised, we will stop onboarding new talent,” he stated.

IPLIX Media talent management agencies Arpan Soni influencers content creators