Want to become the Reliance of the creator ecosystem: Collective Artists Network's Vijay Subramaniam

From overseeing the portfolios of India's leading artists to wielding a significant 18-20% (Rs 180-200 crore) influence in the Rs 1300 crore influencer marketing market, Subramaniam, the Founder and Group CEO of Collective Artists Network, reveals his ambitious vision to industrialise the creator ecosystem in India

Akansha Srivastava
New Update
Post Thumb

Vijay Subramaniam

Having quadrupled revenue through platform fees, commissions and consulting and becoming profitable with a 400-person team, Collective Artists Network aims to become the Reliance of the creator ecosystem.

Vijay Subramaniam, Founder and Group CEO of Collective Artists Network, said that what Reliance built for consumers, we are building for creators.

Collective Artists Network was launched in 2009 with the aim of forming the biggest creator marketplace in the country.

To fulfil this aim, the Collective Artists Network is on a spree of collaborations, acquisitions and launches.

Earlier this year, the company launched BigBang.Social, a tech platform that houses and marries the best-in-class opportunities for creators with talent. The app enables commerce, brand collaboration, upskilling and a peer-to-peer network for building a creator community.

In September 2023, Collective Artists Network announced the acquisition of learning-technology company Under 25 Universe, aiming to empower student culture and provide opportunities within the creator ecosystem.

Abhijeet Pai, and Nikhil Kamath, Founders of Gruhas, and the Collective Artists Network forged a partnership to invest in supporting and empowering young entrepreneurs and start-ups in the consumer sector through a fund.

Most recently, Big Bang Social announced a collaboration with Comscore to help creators with insights into the efficacy of their campaigns.

Subramaniam believes that as a whole, there is nothing bigger than them in the creator ecosystem. “But as an entrepreneur, we constantly look for newer ideas for growth to go deeper and wider simultaneously. That's what big industries are made of and that's been my vision. I want to give my business the status of an industry,” he added.

Subramaniam envisions the industrialisation of the creator ecosystem, aspiring to establish a company that not only survives but thrives beyond its founding figures. Describing his vision, he remarked, "Historically, talent management has been viewed as a brokered business, challenging to scale. However, entities like William Morris Endeavor and CAA successfully built and sustained the talent management industry for 80 to 100 years in the West. This resilience endured not only during the reign of the promoters but continued to thrive even after their departure."

Sharing with BuzzInContent.com his two manifestations for the company, he said, “The external manifestation is to create the largest creator network in the country. The internal manifestation is to build a place where one goes for employment in media & entertainment and sport. That requires an institutional outbuild process vis-a-vis the service industry commission-based brokering model.”

On the talent management side, the Collective Artists Network handles star talent roster from Deepika Padukone to Bhuvam Bam and Divine, when it comes to the influencer marketing ecosystem, BigBang.Social holds 18-20% (Rs 180-200 crore) command over Rs 1300 crore influencer marketing market in India, said Subramaniam.

“From a micro-influencer sitting in Bhopal promoting a cold cream going all the way to Hrithik Roshan endorsing a peanut butter, we pretty much handle the entire end for brands,” he added.

The company represents 438 exclusive celebrities, and has over 2 lakh creators on its platform and executes over 100 brand campaigns in a month.

While it’s easy to measure top-funnel metrics, measuring bottom-funnel metrics becomes a challenge in influencers-led campaigns. But Subramaniam said that social commerce, affiliate commerce and live commerce solve that too.

For long the advertising agencies have been advocating for long-term agency-brand partnerships and discouraging brands from calling pitches now and then. Increasingly, BuzzInContent has come across brands calling pitches from influencer marketing agencies each time for a different campaign on social media. Isn’t there a need for long-term brand and influencer marketing agency partnerships as well?

Subramaniam negated and said that while his company hasn’t faced this challenge, big MNCs generally don’t call for influencer marketing pitches for every single campaign, but stick to a panel of a few agencies. Having said that, “This kind of behaviour is only seen in venture-backed companies, because of cost pressures and people trying to act oversmart to catch the founder’s attention. They keep changing agencies, which is a very transactional relationship,” he said.

He then pointed out that being a fairly new industry, it will now start seeing long-term partnerships between influencer marketing agencies and brands.

Along with that, he said that the industry will also see consolidation happening. “A lot of the smaller shops will consolidate because running influencer agencies require investment, capital management, operational resourcing and much more,” Subramaniam said.

Similar to organisations and setups like AAAI, Ad Club and IAA in the advertising domain, Subramaniam aims to create something similar in the creator ecosystem next year.

Sharing trends that will shape the creator ecosystem in 2024, he sees social commerce picking up, more creator-led brand launches happening, content IPs flourishing, digital stars experimenting with SVOD and OTTs of the world onboarding digital content creators not just for short-form content but even long-form.

influencer marketing brands Collective Artists Network creator Deepika Padukone Talent Management Creator ecosystem Vijay Subramaniam Bhuvam Bam