Sony is not just thinking about entering new-age businesses, but also helping the talent pool it works with to capitalise upon newer opportunities.
Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment have recently joined hands to form Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI), a talent management company that would help actors, singers, gamers and even budding chefs to build their brand equity not just on new age platforms such as metaverse, but also help them invest in new-age ventures in the physical world.
“Our proposition to talent is that we are going to future-proof them. Our mandate is to build their wealth and legacy across ventures, metaverse, IP creation and brands,” explains Vijay Singh, CEO, SETVI.
So, why would a legacy media company such as SPE or Sony Music want to explore talent management? Singh says that at a time when the media business itself is getting redefined, it becomes imperative for a company like Sony with diverse business interests (such as movies, broadcast, music and even businesses such as Sony PlayStation and Sony Electronics) to not just think about entering new-age businesses but also help the talent pool it works with to capitalise upon newer opportunities.
“Talent is moving towards the centre of value creation. Theatrical will soon get redefined and it won’t be as big as what it was. So, the sources of revenue for talent will be varied and they need to find a way to be part of this revenue,” explains Singh.
Hollywood actor George Clooney’s tequila brand Casamigos, which he sold to Diageo for $500 million, is an example of how he extended his acting brand equity to a world beyond movies and Singh says that the idea behind SETVI is to help Indian talent to create their own capital value. He likes to refer to SETVI as McKinsey for the world of talent.
“We have PE experts working for us, we have a database of start-ups, emerging investment opportunities. We will evaluate early-stage investments, do due diligence and will tell talent that if they want to make investments then this is where he/she should be investing. We are saying we will take responsibility for the whole process,” Singh says.
Actors and sportspersons investing in businesses is already a trend. Examples such as Katrina Kaif investing in beauty platform Nykaa or Deepika Padukone investing in yogurt brand, Epigamia, are well-known.
Coming to metaverse, Singh says that it is going to be all about making sure that a popular talent is present on platforms where his or her fans are. So, for a sports icon, it could be all about being present in a metaverse game or even watching a game. It could be creating a digital avatar of a well-known sportsman or sportswoman who could watch a game with his/her fans in a digital stadium. If the sports icon in the physical world endorses an apparel or shoe brand, its digital avatar could endorse the same brand on metaverse.
“We are going to work with talent, with brands, and help them create their metaverse strategy and then depending on the strategy, we will help them create assets on the metaverse with our tech partners. It could be creating avatars, games or esports on metaverse. We can start mirroring everything that happens in the physical world on the metaverse,” explains Singh.
Creating digital avatars would also involve IP creation and that also would be taken care off by SETVI. “We have technology partners who are specialists in creating digital avatars. If I work with a talent to create an avatar, it will be a co-shared IP, but if I want to use content from a film in which the actor has worked, it is owned by a studio, so there will be licensed rights from multiple sources. We are already working with a host of lawyers to create smart contracts that would traverse the world of metaverse, blockchain and cryptos too.”
The collaboration between Sony Pictures and Sony Music clearly comes across as an attempt by the two legacy companies to embrace new age businesses before it gets too late. However, Abinav Kalidindi, founder and CEO of Metaverse company Ikonz, says, that though metaverse is certainly the platform of the future, creating content and digital avatars will come at a huge cost.
“I am sure talent management companies must be looking at entering the metaverse but costs would be a concern. Only a company like Sony can think about it at this moment because of its deep pockets.”