Vinit Thakkar, UMI Talks About the Launch of VYRL Originals and the Future it Holds

Entertainment | July 27, 2018 | News

Universal Music

Earlier in the year 2018, EMI Records India and Mohit Suri launched 'VYRL Originals', a new music property aiming to promote independent/non-film music in India. The property has released 6 singles until today and the last single “Aaya Na Tu” by Arjun Kanungo and Momina Mustehsan released on 20th June and has already received 25 million views on Youtube and has created a massive fandom on-ground. 

In a country like India where the Independent / Non- Film music has for years remained in its handicapped phase, the initiative brings a lot of hope for LIVE artists by giving them and their talent a platform. In an exclusive interview with EVENTFAQS, Vinit Thakkar, Senior Vice President, Universal Music Group India & South Asia talks about the origination of 'VYRL Originals' and it's upcoming endeavours. 

What was the idea behind the launch of VYRL Originals?

VYRL Originals is a platform we launched in January this year to promote Independent singers, music producers, lyricists and composers. Through this unique platform, we have been releasing one brand new song every month which launches simultaneously across all platforms - Digital, TV and Radio. The music emanating from this platform is contemporary with great production values but without the canvas of a film. 

Compared to 90's when Independent music was a distinct genre of music in India and was extremely popular, why has the non-film music almost disappeared from the music scene in India today?

The late 90s to early 2000 was among the best eras of Indian music and Independent musicians had become household names. But, we reached a point in that decade where Bollywood music overpowered Independent music. Some of the content created by these musicians was even absorbed in films. Even traditional mediums like Television and Radio which were primarily used to discover Independent/non-film music started giving preferential treatment to Bollywood music which is why it slowly started fading away.

However, in the current digital landscape, consumer affinity towards streaming services has increased and audiences are more receptive to different genres of music on these streaming platforms.

What are the challenges you face when supporting independent music in India? How does that translate it to revenues?

The budgets for Independent song promotions are relatively modest compared to Bollywood film songs. It’s difficult to match the magnitude of a film promotion and market it the same way. Also, in India, traditional platforms like Television and Radio are still relevant and their preference is still Bollywood music. However, with great artists and differentiated content, the music is reaching a wider audience eventually. The overwhelming support from audio streaming platforms and effective use of social media has also helped us a lot.

How do you market this content on-ground and create buzz around it for audiences to stream them digitally?

It’s always a 360-degree Integrated marketing campaign, primarily focussed on and led by Digital platforms. Social media handles of artists, audio streaming services, influencer campaigns are helping us create the buzz for our songs. 

There are a lot of new / growing artists in the industry right now. What made you release single with Arjun Kanungo and Momina Mustehsan?

Arjun and Momina are both tremendously talented artists and have achieved a lot individually at a very young age. Arjun has created hit singles like ‘Baaki Baatein’, ‘Fursat’ and ‘La La La’ over the last 3 years and has been displaying his versatility as a singer/ songwriter.

Momina attained popularity and a huge fanbase post her rendition of ‘Afreen Afreen’ for Coke Studio. We wanted to bring forth a fresh collaboration where both these artists would benefit from each other. Arjun and Momina complement each other really well and the outcome speaks for itself. The collaboration has received a phenomenal response and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Do you plan to uncover raw talent through such platforms? If yes, how?

EMI Records India was launched in partnership with Mohit Suri with the idea of discovering new talent and nurturing artists to give them a great opportunity in the Indian Music Industry. Up until last month, most of the artists we’ve worked with have been newcomers and we will continue with our endeavour to give opportunities to a lot of new talent under the VYRL Originals platform.

How has been the response so far and what are going to be some of the next steps by you in terms of the VYRL Originals?

With our latest release, ‘Aaya Na Tu’ we’ve set a new benchmark for Independent music in India. Our next single will be released by the end of July. We have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline and some amazing collaborations lined up too. Our endeavour is to keep pushing the envelope and do something unique in terms of content and audio-visuals with every forth-coming track.

In a country like India where the Independent / Non- Film music has for years remained in its handicapped phase, VYRL Originals brings a lot of hope for LIVE artists by giving them and their talent.

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