| 25 Sep 2023
Devraj Sanyal: "2012 was one of the best years till date"

Universal Music India and SAARC MD Devraj Sanyal:-

2012 for Universal:

2012 was a landmark year for the music industry globally and in India. Universal Music was already the biggest record label by market share, but with the acquisition of EMI’s prized catalogue, the success of Spotify’s music service in America, and management deals with some of the biggest artists today, we are now the overwhelmingly dominant force in the music business.

The year also brought us ‘Gangnam Style’, a South Korean music video that has become the most watched piece of content on Youtube. Such an achievement is bound to have an impact on the quality of local/regional productions as their barrier to global success, often considered to be language, is now broken.

In India, Universal music has cemented its place as the premier destination for non-film music. On the A&R front, which is the heart of our business, we have made major investments in putting together the right people, systems and infrastructure, including building our own state of the art studio to ensure maximum support to our artists. Every major and upcoming artist in the country now looks to us to help them create market and monetize their music. We have facilitated mega collaborations such as Sonu Nigam v/s Avicii on ‘Indian Levels’ and many others on one hand, and successfully marketed unknown artists such as Shraddha Sharma to create our own internet sensations.One big one that must be mentioned is the global launch of Priyanka Chopra the artist & her launch of her single ‘In My City’ with Will.I.Am that crossed a quarter million downloads.

Mega launches of huge artists of Colonial Cousins, Rabbi, Euphoria, FalguniPathak, Lesle Lewis, Kavita Seth did numbers which stood apart dominantly in a world dominated by Bollywood music.

Challenges & Opportunities:

On the business front, UMI forged valuable partnerships with some of the biggest brands in the world, to bring their consumers the world’s best legal music collection at their finger tips. Traditionally, we dealt with two stakeholders, the artist and the fan. Today, we have a third stakeholder, brands. Music and brands make quite a potent concoction. While artists allow the brand credible and relevant access to their fans, the brands, through their marketing spends and networks, exposes the brand to newer audiences and can really help amplify their sounds.

The biggest change in the music industry is a clear realization that there is no longer a business model for monetizing content, rather,each piece of content needs to have a different business model to be effectively monetized.

For us, business development and digital are the equivalent of a lab; we are constantly experimenting and trying to innovate in an effort to capitalize on this realization. Our goal is to not only incubate path breaking thoughts within our system, but also support external innovations with our content and marketing wrap around. Imagine a new music service that allows users to fly out and meet top artists every month in exotic locations around the world. There is no greater gratification to a music fan. We make this happen.

iTunes & digital music:

Though iTunes has recently launched in India, it has been a positive force in every other market it has existed in and as a result is the largest contributor of revenues to the business. Other services such as Spotify have done two things this year to heighten interest of artists and consumers. They hit a million paying consumers in America within a year of launch and have successfully brought artists to their platform to facilitate direct to fan launches. This is encouraged a slew of other services to launch and expand their services. Rdio, Deezer, 8Tracks etc have all been on a content and consumer acquisition spree to support their ambitions. Given the fact that music touches everyone’s life today, some to a greater extent than others, it is no longer a question of creating a market for these services, but simply aggregating user groups who prefer one form of consumption over another.

While digital music has gone from strength to strength in most markets, Japan was severely disrupted by the failure of RokuChoku. Thankfully, that is a market that is dominated by physical sales, one of the handfuls along with Germany. In India too, we have seen a resurgence of the physical business with new product categories being introduced to capture demand from certain segments, especially devotional. We have sold 10 million CDs of one particular product, which is now leading in physical sales globally.

Social Media:

Social media has had a massive impact on the way music reaches fans. Marketing has completely changed in the last decade. It is no longer a matter of making an album, putting it in stores, market on TV and set the cash registers ringing. The amount of music being produced today requires alternate, clutter breaking approaches to create fans through a syndicated effort combining live shows, viral videos, TV campaigns and of course, social media.

Way Forward:

To sum it all up, I can tell you candidly, there was never a better time to be a musician, a fan or an entrepreneur. Making music is easier, accessing music is easier and bringing legal music to fans in a fun environment, live, digitally or in physical formats can be a very rewarding proposition.

At UMGI we have had one of the best years till date with numbers that have extremely promising & delivered beyond plan. I look forward to 2013 as another year in the ‘Golden Phase of Music for India’.