The podcast studio (extreme right) and the stage for performances at district150, a brand new creators space in Hyderabad
Image: Darsheel Nahata
In recent years, the landscape of content creation has undergone a massive shift, with an explosion of creators. As this community continues to grow, a new breed of innovative spaces with state-of-the-art facilities, versatile backdrops, and top-notch equipment has emerged to cater to them. “The democratisation of content production, fuelled by smartphones, social media growth, and influencer culture, has created a demand for high-quality content,” says Ramya Ramachandran, founder and CEO of Whoppl, an influencer content management platform.
Recognising this need, Whoppl Studios was launched in August to provide content creators with the tools and space they need to excel, explains Ramachandran. At this space in Mumbai, creators can choose between three plug-and-play sets to help them experiment with different aesthetics and scenarios. Whoppl Studios has also curated a roster of professionals such as a stylist, photographers, videographers and editors that creators can handpick based on their project requirements. Users can book the space through the website, and pay per hour starting at ₹999 and then ₹599 for every additional hour.
“We envision Whoppl Studios as the WeWork for content creators, where the benefits are multi-fold. It’s not just about the space; it’s about the entire ecosystem designed to make content creation efficient, cost-effective and creatively inspiring,” Ramachandran adds.
For creators, a space like Whoppl Studios where they can shoot, engage, invite guests, and also brainstorm with their peers is a welcome change compared to shooting at home or traditional studios, says creator and influencer Siddhesh Lokare.
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“Content creation is a creative process that demands flexibility. At a traditional studio, there is very little scope for personalisation, flexibility and resources,” says Lokare. “For instance, at Whoppl, they connect me with the right people such as guests for my podcast, or provide me with any kind of background I require for my shoots and I also don’t have to pay for the whole day,” he adds.
Along similar lines is another Mumbai-based space, Monk-E Studio, which was launched in April. Run by Monk Entertainment, a digital media organisation, the studio has been utilised by 150 creators so far, including actor Johnny Lever. It is designed to have five different sets—bedroom, podcast, café, vanity and kitchen—and seven different backgrounds for still shoots. It also has top-notch cameras, lights and sound equipment required by content creators.
“The aesthetics are done keeping in mind today’s trends so that the production value is very high,” says Viraj Sheth, founder and CEO of Monk Entertainment. “We have built this space to optimise for different shoot requirements from a creator lens. The goal with this studio is to ensure that creators have a seamless experience and don’t need to worry about logistics.” Monk-E in Mumbai, built by Monk Entertainment, was built to optimise for different shoot requirements, ensuring that creators that the company manages have a seamless experience with a digital-first approach
For now, Monk E is only available for the 120-plus creators the company manages and is not focussed on direct revenues from the space.
YouTuber and singer Aksh Baghla, who has utilised Monk E’s space for shoots says one of the advantages is that, unlike a traditional shooting space, everyone involved—camerapersons, editors, set designers and more—has a digital-first approach.
“They know the formats, the versatility required while editing, and shooting, and also incorporate AI (artificial intelligence) very well. They’re on par with technology,” he adds.
Another brand new space called district150 has just opened its doors in Hyderabad. Founder and CEO Vivek Narain describes it as a space essentially created keeping in mind the future of the office building, wherein the creator economy is poised to play a significant part.
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As also the founder of a contemporary members-only work and social lifestyle club called The Quorum, Narain noticed people increasingly looking for spaces like the club for photoshoots, podcasts and interviews. “This made us understand that there is an emerging demand for chic and functional spaces for content creation, and the supply is scarce,” says Narain.
At district150, there is a space dedicated to content creation called The Grid, which can be used for various types of photo and video shoots, as it has abundant natural light, and is designed in a neutral palette. The space can also double up as a screening room for presentations, movies and product showcases. A podcast studio is also attached to the content creation zone. The space also has a stage for performers and creators such as stand-up comic artistes for live performances, workshops or engagements. “We are essentially a new-age meetings, events and collaboration space which is designed for the office buildings of tomorrow,” says Narain.
While traditional studios lack the aesthetics that modern content creators seek, the new-age studios offer cost-effectiveness without compromising on a visually pleasing environment. They’re also tech-enabled with live streaming support to help creators engage with their audience in real time, like in the case of Whoppl Studios. Whoppl Studios has curated a roster of professionals such as stylists, photographers, videographers and editors that creators can handpick based on their project requirements
And for influencers, the biggest help comes in the form of versatility not only because creators from all backgrounds can utilise such spaces, but also because they are welcome to host a live event, digital commerce shoot, podcast recording or any other creative endeavour, says Ramachandran.
And most important, they foster collaboration. The new-age studios are emphasising building a creative community, not just a co-shooting space. “Traditional studio spaces are mostly in bigger cities and offer larger spaces that aren’t cost-effective,” says Apaksh Gupta, founder and CEO of One Impression, an influencer marketing platform. “The new-age studios are a critical part of the generational infrastructural shift that had to come in.” Also read: Digital Stars 2023: Rise of the influencers
The introduction of such studios is merely the tip of the iceberg, feels Gupta. “It’s a recent trend, but to me, it will become very large and important in the creator infrastructure as they move towards creating better content in different styles and will need more tailored physical spaces that are easily accessible and well-designed to suit their needs.”
And, like Gupta, realising that this is a massive market opportunity, founders are already thinking of expansion.
For instance, Narain is planning on taking district150 to Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata in five years.
Ramachandran of Whoppl Studios, on the other hand, is exploring opportunities.
Starting with metros, she plans to expand into Tier II and III markets in the next five years. “We want to make Whoppl Studios accessible by offering members masterclasses and fireside chats with industry experts to empower creators to go all out with their content,” she says. And for Monk-E Studio too, while expansion may not be an immediate move, “but we wouldn’t say it’s completely off the table”, Sheth says.
(This story appears in the 03 November, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)