(CelebrityAccess) – Universal Music India (UMI) has announced a strategic expansion of its leadership team within India and South Asia, reinforcing its position as the leading music company for non-film music within the region and to accelerate its growth across the original artist, non-film music and hip-hop genres in India and South Asia.
As part of these changes, Vinit Thakkar has been promoted to COO, India and South Asia; Gaurav Chaturvedi joins UMG as VP, Domestic Labels, Universal Music Group India; and Pranav Thakker has been named General Manager, New Business Development, Universal Music Group Brands (UMGB).
Thakkar will be tasked with further strengthening UMI’s position in the region, driving India’s overall content strategy, strategic initiatives and operational efficiency; Chaturvedi will be responsible for leading label activity, strategy and releases for all domestic UMI labels; and Thakker will be tasked with enhancing UMI’s capabilities across brand partnerships and artist campaigns.
Over the past three years, UMI has led the evolution of the domestic Indian music market with a series of strategic label launches, combined with increased A&R focus in original Indian non-film music and talent. The centerpiece of the operation has been VYRL Originals, which was launched in January 2018, as India’s first dedicated non-film label. VYRL Originals has released more than 40 singles so far, from a roster of 25 artists including; Mithoon, Asees Kaur, Arjun Kanungo, Lisa Mishra, Tanishk Bagchi, Sukriti & Prakriti Kakkar, Akull Tandon & Vishal Mishra.
In November 2019, VYRL Originals single ‘Intezaar’ from Mithoon featuring Arijit Singh & Asees Kaur made history as the first non-film release to top India’s national AirCheck T20 radio airplay charts for three consecutive weeks.
This was followed last year by the launch of Mass Appeal India, in conjunction with legendary U.S. rapper Nas. The label’s first signing DIVINE, who is regarded as the godfather of Mumbai’s hip-hop scene, released his debut album Kohinoor to critical and commercial acclaim in October 2019.
Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO Universal Music India and South Asia, said: “We are truly in a sea change moment for music in India, with an audience that is consuming more music, video and content than ever before. Because of this we have worked hard alongside our partners over the past two years, to build and launch new sub-labels that put artistic creativity and collaboration at the heart of every release, and where artist’s voices and talent can be seen and heard, starting with VYRL Originals and Mass Appeal India and with further exciting initiatives to follow in the coming months.
“I am thrilled to announce these strategic appointments, as we look to marry our ambition to increase the scale and reach of original music in India and our continued focus and commitment to domestic A&R, with real action to help revolutionize the listening experience for Indian music fans. Under Vinit’s guidance, VYRL Originals has become the blueprint for non-film music success in India, and I look forward to working closely together with him in his new role to achieve further innovation and success. The addition of Gaurav and Pranav to our senior management team will help expand the boundaries of commercial success for our recording artists, label teams and amplify the opportunities for local and international artists to reach new fans, both here in India, and also around the world.”
Adam Granite, Executive Vice President, Market Development at UMG, added: “Devraj and the senior management team in India have done an incredible job opening the door for non-film music to break into the mainstream and reach a new mass audience of fans in India, within the vast Indian diaspora around the world and hopefully beyond. The potential for artist talent and creativity in India is huge and we are excited to support their efforts to bring original Indian music to the world and further establish UMG as the home for non-film music talent and success in the region.”
Vinit Thakkar said: “This is an exciting time for Indian artists and music, and we are looking forward to further expanding the horizons of what is possible to achieve with VYRL Originals and our other domestic labels. I am very proud that our efforts have resulted in creating a culture and category of non-film music in India. I am very excited about my new role whereby alongside Devraj, I will be responsible for driving UMG’s strategic expansion in the region.”