| 25 Sep 2023
All That Matters 2015 starts with India

SINGAPORE: Musical extravaganza- All That Matters 2015 rolled out in Singapore on Wednesday 20 May, with the 'Gateway to Asia sessions' that included sessions representing India, Indonesia, Australia and Taiwan. The first country to present at the session was 'India' with experts across the music eco-system.

The 'Gateway to India' moderated by Artist Aloud VP Soumini Paul, included panelists like MTV India EVP and business head Aditya Swamy, Universal Music India new business and licensing digital -VP Vinit Thakkar, Times Music COO Mandar Thakur and Turnkey Music and publishing MD Atul Churamani. The session tried to provide insights on the Indian music industry for all those eyeing the space for expansion.

The growing music festival season in India was a topic for discussion among the panelists, even though the expert in the space- Vijay Nair (CEO of OML) was missing, from the panel. For Swamy and Thakkar, commenting on this space was not alien as the former entered the space a couple of years ago through Bollyland, while the latter recently introduced  a new property 'TROT' and is building a huge IP for December 2015. Both stated that live music in India has takers, and that it is not limited to any specific genre. Citing the example of Bollyland, Swamy said MTV built the IP around the idea of mixing genres- one is Bollywood music, which is popular with Indian culture and the other is dance music, the growing music genre. Thakkar commented that "more and more consumers in India are consuming diverse content." Thus, making it clear that India, as a country is open to all types of sounds.

Times Music and Universal Music India have been actively involved in bringing more new sounds to India. For Thakur to comment on that space comes with huge amount of ease, as he talks about his roster of artistes that range across Canada, Finland, Germany and many other countries around the globe. Thakur reiterated that for international bands and artistes to make a break-through in India is only possible if their sounds interest the Indian audiences. Thakur and his label have always supported various music genres and have made it to international platforms. Grammy winning musicians Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman are very recent examples of label's work.

Former Saregama executive Churamani conveyed the most important aspects of the Indian music industry with pun and humour. He engaged the audience by talking about Bollywood's leading lady and former adult star Sunny Leone. He stated that musicians and professional across the world can enter the Indian music industry, only if they know what they need. "You need to be clear in your head, if you want to enter the Indian music industry", stated the veteran music professional.

Another topic that Churamani highlighted was publishing, which is the main focus of his very own company-Turnkey. He stated that the Indian Copyright (Amendment) Act has made publishing in India function smoothly. He also hinted that publishing is a great route to enter the country.

Commenting on the question thrown by Paul on digital, Thakkar said that digital is at its cusp of change and there are growing consumers in that space. MTV India has been able to create a community in the digital space in the past few years, has taken many of its shows to the digital platform, and has attained sponsors across its platform for its music based shows. While previously MTV India earned only five per cent of its revenue through music, today, that market has gone up to 25 per cent, stated Swamy.

Swamy went on to talk about young musicians breaking into the Indian music scene. MTV India has been actively involved in showcasing the sounds of many artistes through its offering -MTV Indies, and believes that new Indian artistes and musicians could be made know only if the music eco-system joins hands for the same.

Churamani pointed that new Bollywood films are embracing these new sounds to which Thakkar spoke about the Indian Indie space, and its sub-label Contrabands that has been engaging which emerging Indie artistes. Thakkar said "There are a lot of interesting genres emerging in India." Genres likes hip-hop, dance, rock and others, have become part of the Indian youth today, yet Bollywood continues to have a mass market in India. Swamy resonated Thakkar's view saying, "The appetite for music has increased in India." Today, in the regional space like North, North-east and South India, musicians are ready to experiment.

Countering all the panelists, Churamani represented his take on Bollywood without holding on to his view. "Bollywood is an engine and other music genres are the wagon." He stated that if people try to overthrow the engine, the wagon will not move. He stated that Bollywood is looking at new sounds and that the music industry should feed it with those sounds, which will help new artistes to emerge. He stated that working for Bollywood is not about compromising on music, but about making the music known to mass audiences.

Thakkar added to Churamani's view, stating that Bollywood music has a lot of non-film music, and cited the example of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Sony Music's artist Badshah. He also revealed that one of Khan's tracks will be used in an upcoming Bollywood project.

Thakur placed his strong point of view during the session again. He said that song is about great sound and great sound will make it huge.

A new topic covered was A&R. Churamani pointed that A&R has taken a down turn and that the role has been overtaken by publishers. Countering his view, Thakkar said, "Universal Music India has played an aggressive role in A&R. Shraddha Sharma is one such example who is the first India YouTube star." He pointed out that the way of A&R might have changed but it continues to exist. To which, Thakur added, "In India, A&R is democratised."