In this exclusive interview to Jyotika Sood, Universal Music chief operating officer (COO) Vinit talks about VYRL Originals Universal Music India’s initiative created to promote non-film music in India and how it is an artiste-first platform for building a culture and category of non-film music in India and music business. Excerpts:
Are music companies still encouraging budding singers as earlier despite evolution of platforms like YouTube channels, etc?
The role of a music label in an artiste’s life cycle is very critical. The music label is an integral part of an artiste’s journey. An artiste is great at the creative level, i.e. creating great content whilst the label plays the complementary role of taking the artiste’s music to the right set of audiences across the globe. A music label acts as an extended part of the artiste’s team and contributes to the all facets of the music creation, marketing and distribution. Today, the label’s roster include Arjun Kanungo, Akull, Lisa Mishra, Sukriti and Prakriti Kakar, Vishal Mishra amongst many others.
What are the latest trends you are witnessing in the film and non-film music categories?
Indian music business was dominated by film soundtrack music for the last decade. Over the last couple of years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the artiste-led music also popularly known as non-film music. Our label VYRL Originals has been at the forefront of this revolution in building a strong culture and category for non-film music in this country. In 2020, due to the pandemic most film releases have been on hold and this has further accelerated the interest and growth in the category of non-film music. Other than commercial pop, we are also seeing consumer interest in local language Hip Hop. We launched our Hip-Hop label, Mass Appeal India, in 2019 and have witnessed tremendous interest from consumers and artistes. We believe that over the next few years, non-film music category will be formidable and might even be bigger than the film music.
What is the future of music companies now? What kind of new business models are they?
Music business has been one of the firsts amongst the entertainment business to embrace the digital. This business is fueled by creativity, passion and innovation across artistes, companies and entrepreneurs. The digital music space has evolved very rapidly in the last decade from the good old days of value-added services business to tethered downloads to audio and audio visual streaming to short-video platforms. Since music is consumed by every single individual in some form and manner, we will also see exciting developments both from creative and business stand-points.
How are music companies earning now with formats like Alexa and music-curation apps like Saavn, Spotify etc?
The digital ecosystem in India has changed dramatically since the launch of 4G in 2016. With penetration of low-end smart-phones, access to high-speed, low-cost data, development of audio and audio visual OTT platforms and digital payment ecosystem, the India consumer has come a long way in adoption and habit formation across new formats/mediums of music consumption. Music companies have licensed rights and made content available across various digital platforms like audio and video-streaming platforms, social media platforms, short-video services, etc. The consumer now has access to licensed content across their choice of platform.
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