| 13 Apr 2024
Indian music industry needs some 'vitality': Rupert Hollier, Metropolis Studios, UK

MUMBAI: The extravagant launch of tycoon Kumar Birla's 22-year-old daughter Ananya Birla's debut single 'Livin' the Life', in linear to some of the international artist’s album launch, expectedly generated curiosity and attention around the event. With Universal Music India, Ananya Birla launched her single ‘Livin’ the Life’ on 12 November that involved contributions from some of the biggies of the entertainment industry.

American TV Series Empire’s songwriter and Emmy award winner Jim Beanz recorded and produced the single at Sunset Studio in Philadelphia, while acclaimed music director Rock Jacobs imagined the visuals for the single. Universal Music India’s CEO for South Asian operations Devraj Sanyal went a step ahead and called her truly the ‘India’s export to the world’. Finally, when it comes down to business, for Ananya Birla, no one would play a bigger role in terms of putting her single into the right places among a wider audience target than UK-based Metropolis Music Publishing & Studios.

In conjunction with Universal Music India, Metropolis would focus around the outreach of Birla’s efforts beyond India and music industry. Speaking to, Metropolis’s Creative Director of Publishing and Music Supervision, Rupert Hollier said, “We would be project managing Ananya Birla, and we are also looking for supervising her music on a film. Metropolis leads in such projects, and I have worked with ‘Saregama’ and ‘Tips’ labels earlier. Ananya had chosen us to help her out, and we turned down the offer at first. Later, we realised who she is does not really matter. We realised the song is ‘sellable’. The music is there, and we will make it work. One thing you can learn that, in music industry you cannot force your content on others. She has the right chops and that’s her X factor.”

Comprising ex-personnel from major record labels, the UK-based independent publishing studio formed OST releases and music supervision work on several major films including the new Scorsese project, titled ‘Tomorrow’. The former Universal Music Group’s Film & Sync Manager, Hollier, added, “I love Indian music, but I am not biased. I am paid to be objective. I cannot put a name on a song just because it involves someone popular. My time is worth money.” Having worked with acts like Pink Floyd, Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend and Nitin Sawhney before, Hollier knows a thing or two about what sells and what does not. “The girl can write song, sing it and she’s in sync with what’s happening in the music industry. As we always do, when a talent arrives, we speak to directors like Scorsese and find a way to place the talent’s content in film, like any good film supervisor.”

Channeling the content through right mediums is important, insists Hollier, however, the quality of music deserves to be maintained. “I just heard that vinyl is coming back to India. That’s really brilliant. Metropolis has an app that allows the user to put the record the phone, and through sending the code, the user can unlock the content on the record as it spins like it would on a normal record player.”

Hollier is aware of the UK’s independent labels’ gradually increasing interest towards Indian content, but the Creative Head quickly added that the nationality does not really matter for the audience or the labels. “No one would listen to the radio and ask ‘hey is that an Indian band?’ For us, it’s just one factor – Can we make the music work? For example, in Ananya’s case, the answer is absolutely.”

An admirer of the film scores in Bollywood, Hollier rightly pointed out the factor that has been restricting musicians from expressing themselves more often. “There’s a reason why not many appreciate the background score in Bollywood, because the audience only watches the movie and the songs. A session violinist, on an average, would earn 5000 rupees, and once the content is out, it’s on a buyout clause. The musician does not get royalty after that, unlike other industries where the musician earns royalties even ten years after the content has been created.”

Ananya Birla, once again, opens the door for Hollier and Metropolis to scout talent and content from India, and the Creative Head looks forward to capitalise on the same. “We have heard of the band The F16s, the band that is on our radar. I will return to India and work on syncing, but the collection system In India needs to be in place. The IPRS seems to be in a bad position. I am extremely determined to co-operate and work on these factors,” concluded Hollier, but further added that he does not want to be “the gora who does it, it has to be done internally.”

Ananya Birla’s debut single ‘Livin’ the Life’ will be out on 13 December midnight with a global release. Only time will tell if Metropolis and UMI manages to ‘sell’ Birla’s work to the world, and if not, then would the UK based publishing studio continue its search for the ‘truly global sound’ from India.