The Indian music industry has been for long trying to get itself noticed on the global music stage. It has also deliberately tried to shed its film music dependent image and has boldly ventured into what was once a ‘no go zone’ i.e. the independent/non-film music space.
One of the men at the forefront of this drive, is Devraj Sanyal, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group & EMI Music, South Asia.
Adding another feather to his decorated hat, Billboard has named Sanyal on the ‘Billboard International Power Players’ list which includes the top personalities from the global music business.
Speaking on this development, Vineet Thakkar, COO, Universal Music Group, India & South Asia, said,
“This is a moment of absolute pride for not only all of us at UMG India & South Asia but also specifically for our region. In such a vibrant growing emerging market with culturally rich music and artists, it was time that we got some well-deserved global recognition. This is a collective victory for our industry and UMG India for our relentless endeavour to build an artist-centric music business in India. It’s now time to take our brand of music and artists on the path to global domination.”
Sanyal’s Vision and Leadership
Sanyal took over in 2011 and operated from the company headquarters in Mumbai. He is charged with the management and operational running of all Universal Music Group businesses in the region. The former heavy metal vocalist has been instrumental in successfully launching – Mass Appeal India – an innovative new label dedicated to amplifying India’s burgeoning hip-hop culture on a global scale.
In a country obsessed with Bollywood Music, Universal Music India’s VYRL Originals was the first label dedicated to creating artist-centric music. With a vision of creating a culture and category of non-film music in India, VYRL Originals has been launching artists in the commercial non-film music space since 2018. VYRL Originals is a first mover in this non-film music space where every label is now focusing energies since 2020.
Recognizing the changing fabric of music and artists in India, the company launched India’s first HipHop label with an international outlook, Mass Appeal India in 2019. The label’s mission is to bring the underground HipHop movement in India to the fore and take it to international audiences. In just 2 years the label has a solid roster of artists and catalog that has also seen international exposure and offtake.
Beyond commercial pop and HipHop, Universal Music India has consolidated and solidified its position in the regional space by partnering with India’s pioneer label from the Punjab region, Desi Melodies. This budding partnership was formed in 2020 and has seen releases like Titliaan, Baarish Ki Jaaye and Banglow amongst others. The label is also home to some of the best talent from the region.
Getting on the ‘Billboard International Power Players’ list – A Watershed Moment
Sanyal has been the frontman for India’s premier heavy metal band ‘Brahma’ since its inception and hence has a keen eyes about all the facets the music and entertainment business. Being an artist himself, he perceives the business both from an artist point of view as well as the business side of things.
One of Sanyal’s long-time associate, Atul Churamani, Managing Director, Turnkey Music & Publishing Pvt Ltd, was full of praise for the latter’s achievement, stating,
“This is fantastic recognition of an Indian music industry executive, something that I haven’t seen in 34 years in the business, since the days of the legendary Bhaskar Menon. Well deserved. Devraj, despite being everywhere on social media, silently works behind the scenes on a multitude of industry initiatives with unrelenting passion. One wishes him greater and greater success.”
Sanyal has been at the helm of many innovative campaigns for Universal Music in India and is also a well-respected personality across the music industry. He is often seen at panel discussions or delivering keynotes with his insights about the future of the music industry in India and globally.
“Congratulations Devraj. This is also recognition of the India recorded music market at the global stage. Another sign for the state to dismantle archaic laws , once dismantled FDI will flow 100x into the music ecosystem as described in the IMI economic paper.” exclaimed, Blaise Fernandes, President & CEO of Indian Music Industry, IMI on hearing the news.
Sanyal has successfully incorporated verticals like Live music, Merchandising, Branded Content, Intellectual Properties which were previously unexplored by the Indian music industry. With his keen vision and now him being on the ‘Billboard International Power Players’ List, it all augurs well for the Indian music space.