EXCLUSIVE | Tamseel Hussain, Pluc TV: Re-balancing the ‘creator’ ecosystem

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Tamseel Hussain, Founder and CEO, pluc.tv, in an exclusive interaction, speaks about the booming creator economy in India, how his platform pluc.tv (People like us create) has been pioneering tech-based mobile storytelling, how it has empowered creators and how it helps them monetize content.

He also discusses the opportunities, challenges that prevail in the creator economy, the changes in the consumption pattern of audiences when engaging with creator-led content and the role that pluc.tv, other platforms like it will play in the future.

Tamseel is a public engagement and social media maven. With more than a decade of experience, he has worked with media houses, tech platforms, non-profits and small businesses.
He has helped many organisations in digital transformation and helped them simplify complex issues for the public.
Tamseel has worked extensively on issues around placemaking, mental health, human rights, inequality, gender, art & culture, environment, digital empowerment and politics.

What inspired you to start pluc.tv, how has the journey been so far?

I spent 15 years building online communities for tech platforms, nonprofits, and small businesses, most of my work was around bridging inequalities and connecting people who lead different lifestyles, to create positive change.

In 2017 smartphones were rapidly being adopted by many users, for the first time people were getting exposed to social media and engaging with content for the first time, giving room to new behaviours.

While social media influencers were on a rise and were becoming popular, so was the gap between people who have amazing stories but fewer resources to tell them. I was at a landfill training waste-pickers on how to tell stories using their phones along with a mainstream media house, a non-profit and a social media platform when the idea clicked.

Building a platform for premium content that empowered potential, mid and nano-level creators to tell amazing stories in various formats. The evolution of people telling amazing stories and building communities gave rise to what we call now the ‘creator economy’.

It’s been an incredible journey, full of learnings, wins for me as an individual and as a founder – such is the ‘tadka’ of fate. Think about it, there are 50 million people who call themselves creators today (according to a report SignalFire) – out of which only a small % end up earning or are serviced by platforms, depending on the number of followers they have.

In our bootstrapped journey we are 30000+ creators strong now, more than 100k have taken our creator and storytelling courses, we have won 3 awards and built very useful creator and storytelling tools.

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What are the services pluc.tv offers and what differentiates it from others? 

pluc.tv is a place where passionate storytellers build shows and tell stories in unique formats, learn the latest in storytelling, find unique gigs, collaborate with like-minded people and experts, access storytelling tools, 24 x7 production support all this to help them build a community of their own.

It also offers brands a unique opportunity to find unheard-of creators, sponsor them or their shows and get premium content from anywhere in the country produced at a record-breaking speed. 

We’re disrupting and re-balancing the current ‘creator’ ecosystem, by spotlighting and supporting new talent in an arena held hostage by top creators while delivering value for money for both creators and businesses.

How has pluc.tv been empowering content creators? How does incentivizing content creators as a strategy for platforms lead to growth? 

In the world, today the attention economy is meeting the creator economy, where success is increasingly concentrated among a smaller number of creators, what happens to the rest of the 99%?

We enable anyone with a mobile phone to enter the creator economy with the right training and courses to create content that brings about influence and opportunities for them. 

We offer existing creators to break out of an algorithm-driven loop and experiment with the kind of content they want to do. Our virtual studio & 24*7 production support helps fasten the process of creation for these creators. 

We strongly believe anyone who creates a quality story or as we call it premium content, should get paid for it early, irrespective of what the social media algorithms say. A platform flourishes when it provides an opportunity to every user to grow and we’ve seen our creators build their own communities, followers, survive on the money earned via pluc.tv during the pandemic.

We’ve built a loyal base of pro-creators who earn from the platform and keep recommending more creators to join. In the end, it’s really about how powerful your story is and the impact it creates. Some stories change behaviours and some stories build trends.

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How does pluc.tv help content creators in generating revenue, tell us about that, and how does that model work?

Creators come on pluc.tv to learn, collaborate and tell unique stories. They can start their own show, find paid gigs, and work with another creator sitting in any part of the country.

Selected creators also get opportunities to start their own courses, our pro-creators get paid for every story they do on the platform.

How large is the creator economy in India? And what are the opportunities in this space? 

In India, the influencer market is estimated at $ 75-150 million a year – which only forms a part of the creator economy. There are so many more angles like gaming creators, experts like doctors and teachers who are now creating content and more people who are entering this ecosystem.

India has an ancient history of storytelling which comes in all forms dance, art, writing, culture to name a few.  

There’s a huge opportunity in the space to help creators become platform-independent. Subscriptions, fan-funding and virtual gifting are opening up new monetisation options. Co-creation of content between different creators and their fans is going to be instrumental.

Will Netflix-like shows come to you from your next-door creators? We can be a leader globally when it comes to the creator economy, just because of the simple fact that we are more than 500 million mobile phone users and have a huge and talented young population.

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What changes have you observed in the consumption pattern of audiences when engaging with creator-led content? 

One thing is clear – premium content stands the test of time on the internet. From just watching content on certain topics to watching content created by their favourite creators, consumer behaviours have definitely seen a shift. 

Consumers connect better with content that is creator-led – it is more relatable for them. They wait for the next episode, series, and video that their creator is about to upload. They want to buy products that would help them become better creators.

How can a creator get the most out of their audience? How does somebody judge whether your platform is huge enough for them to go independent via other services?

It’s the most exciting time to be a creator, you can connect with your audiences more meaningfully and create the content you really believe in. Avoid getting burnt out, find your niche, while trends are important nobody can compete with your story.

Our platform not only helps creators tell stories on our platform, but also gives access to our multi-platform partnerships so that their stories can reach a higher audience. Some of the most popular communities on our platform are on Health, Environment, Art along with fast-growing communities like Finance and Gaming.

Our niche genres and communities help creators garner attention to their stories beyond our platform and helps them test their influence on newer communities.

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You work closely with creators from different backgrounds—are there any common themes or traits that come to mind that makes a creator successful?

Consistency and authenticity are two traits that will remain evergreen for creators. Trends and new formats will continue to evolve, but what’s yours cannot be executed the way you do it.

We’ve always seen successful creators have authenticity in their stories, and content, they shy away from pretending. Many of them create content in a certain niche or about certain topics they are really passionate about. Some of these creators also end up collaborating and forming high-impact communities that also have great engagement.

As the creator economy grows, how will the role of platforms like pluc.tv, Patreon, and others develop over the next 10 years? 

If the first 10 years were creator discovery focused, the next 10 are going to be focused on monetisation. How does every creator monetise from quality content without being anxious or burnt out from the cycle of discovery or gaining followers? That’s where we are headed and pluc.tv has already started showing results in that direction.

Platforms like ours are needed to help creators avoid burn-out, algorithm pressure and gain financial independence. The creator economy trend globally is pointing towards more creators turning business owners, investors and more consumers wanting to see their favourite creators succeed.