Breaking the language barrier with South India’s biggest YouTuber Madan Gowri

At YourStory’s Creators Inc conference, South India’s biggest YouTuber talks about the limitations and strength of sticking to a regional language, placing content above language, and the rising community of localised creators catering to a niche-yet-sizeable fan base

The past few years have been quite happening for the creator economy in India, with phenomenal growth in the popularity of regional content creators. 

Youtube sensations Madan Gowri, Sonu Venugopal, Gurubaai, Ahmed Meeran and chef Suresh Pillai have completely disseminated the notion that one cannot survive without knowing or communicating in English well in the digital space. The one thing that speaks for them is their content, the idea, and the authenticity which surpasses the language barrier. 

That said, putting out content in a single regional language could have its own sets of limitations. Will regional creators ever reach the mainstream? One of South India’s biggest YouTuber Madan Gowri breaks it down for us. 

Rising revenue 

The revenue for language is definitely getting bigger and higher every year, says Madan, whose content has over the years moved beyond the Indian territory and is reaching the global diaspora. The creator has been demystifying issues that resonate with the youth through his YouTube channel, which has over 5.29 million subscribers. 

From Science to History to current issues, Madan has made a name for himself on the internet, that blurs geographical boundaries.

“The revenue making is higher if the content reaches European and American viewers. The internet community is much more evolved in those countries and soon we will be catching up with it,” says Madan, who is well versed in both English and Tamil. 

While the creator initially put out videos in English, he later switched to Tamil to come up with a variety of content, which was not restricted to the region. 

“Initially I made videos both in English and Tamil, but Tamil was getting more of an audience as there were less creators in Tamil and there was a huge gap. I saw an opportunity to capitalise on that void. For me Tamil is more appropriate to talk about the topics I choose to talk about,” he says. 

Recently, the creator had launched his own ad-free news app called Kokru, which had crossed 2,00,000 downloads in just 48 hours. The app features six different Indian languages and aims to serve personalised news to an international audience from India.

For Madan, his major chunk of revenue comes from Google and ad integrations on YouTube. “Integrating ads inside a video is big money but you need to know the balance as people will identify it as paid content. There are multiple sources of revenue like live chat and memberships for channels, but do it ethically,” he says. 

Madan calls out the bias among brands when it comes to rewarding Tamil creators versus Hindi or English creators, despite having the same number of subscribers and viewership.

“Sometimes the pay out difference irks me and creators should take a stand in choosing brands for integration.” 

In order to break out of the language restriction and appeal to a greater audience, Madan is soon planning to use subtitles for his videos on YouTube.

One-man army 

With a subscriber base of 5.29 million, Madan is a one-man army when it comes to management of his channel, including content creation, shooting, editing, uploading, collabs and so on. 

“I do everything single-handedly. I have created everything in a particular way that my audience likes and they expect that from Madan, and this formula is my brainchild and I am afraid to bring in new brains into this,” says Madan.  

The creator considers himself extremely lucky to have caught the right wave at the right time that gave him an opportunity to make mistakes, learn from them and evolve—a luxury unavailable for newcomers. 

“You cannot afford to make mistakes. To engage a person for 15 minutes is a challenge today when they have so many options,” he adds. 

Stars are born 

The massive popularity of local content creators has very well debunked the notion that platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are for the English or Hindi-speaking audience in bigger cities and more importantly, one does not need to know these languages to become an influencer!

“When you enter a smaller screen, a phone or a computer, you are not a celebrity. The moment you enter this space you are a creator. They are stars until they are on the big screen, but here (digital) there are no stars and all creators,” says Madan.

Madan advises new creators to tap new areas and pick up niches instead of trying to acquire the same audience, as the possibilities are endless. 

“In the Tamil space, we do not have all types of channels or genres as we are still evolving. Many things can be done. They need to choose some new category which is already not there. I think that will yield them more new viewers than doing the same type of content others do.”

What's next for Madan? 

After the successful launch of his app, Madan is rekindling his passion for music and exploring the web series space. 

“I could not imagine myself as a singer earlier but I am improving, and I get good response,” he says. 

(With inputs from Induja Ragunathan)

Catch YourStory's Creators Inc conference here.

For more on other key initiatives as part of the conference, visit our Creators Inc. website here.

Recognising the burgeoning creator ecosystem and the new wave of entrepreneurship that comes with it, YourStory is celebrating the works of both established and emerging influencers in an initiative aimed at identifying, celebrating and accelerating the journey of digital creators who make extraordinary, unique and engaging content. We've partnered with Trell to bring you the Top 100 Creators challenge, which you can apply for here.

Edited by Ramarko Sengupta


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