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Updated on June 27, 2022 1:18 am

‘I consider that as we speak we’re in a spot the place Indian music can cross over globally.’


MBW’s World Leaders is a daily sequence by which we flip the highlight in the direction of a few of the most influential business figures exterior the US and UK markets. On this characteristic, we converse to Mandar Thakur, the COO of Occasions Music in India. In addition to representing its personal massive music catalog, Occasions Music sub-publishes in India for firms akin to Warner Chappell Music and peermusic. World Leaders is supported by PPL.


Mandar Thakur’s designation because the Chief Working Officer at Occasions Music doesn’t fairly showcase the vary and depth of information he has as a veteran of India’s music business.

For over twenty years, Thakur has been each witness and catalyst to its evolution and as we speak, he retains his hen’s eye view by means of his seats on the boards of royalty assortment organisations the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS) and the nation’s Phonographic Efficiency Restricted (PPL), plus music distribution firm Phonographic Distribution Restricted (PDL) and commerce physique the Indian Music Business (IMI), which represents the pursuits of over 200 labels.

It’s no marvel then that he’s a favorite with organizers of music conferences across the globe who’re searching for somebody with their finger on the heartbeat of what it’s like doing enterprise in India.

Mumbai-based Thakur’s profession began on the flip of the millennium when he was simply getting out of his teenagers. His first job (of kinds) was being a roadie for Indian glam rock band Hazzard, a stint that led him to changing into a lighting designer specialising in rock live shows.

This in flip received him a gig because the supervisor of arduous rock band Krysis. These experiences, he says, taught him his first large life classes. “It’s not about what you do, it’s about figuring out folks,” Thakur informed MBW. “That you must have an inherent curiosity for those who amaze you. That you must be awed by any little factor they might have, their expertise, talent [or] persona.”

Subsequent, Thakur adopted Krysis’ lead singer and shut pal Suraj Jagan to Hong Kong. There, he hustled his manner into working with live performance promoter Anders Nelson at The Leisure Firm for which he helped placed on reveals by the likes of INXS and Elton John.

“That’s the [next] factor I realized: until you ask, the reply is at all times no,” says Thakur. Upon his return to India within the mid-Nineties, he took up the primary of his career-defining roles, at MTV rival Channel [V] the place he was the pinnacle of music and expertise business relations.

“That was [one of] essentially the most superb experiences of my life. All the things we did was path-breaking, from a high ten chart to a compilation album, highway reveals and the Channel [V] Awards, which we held three years in a row and for which [we brought] the Spice Ladies, Bon Jovi, Air Provide, Led Zeppelin and Bryan Adams.”

A change in possession prompted him to hunt his subsequent problem in 2000, which turned out to be at an enterprise co-founded by former rival, Sudhanshu Sarronwala, who was then the managing director of MTV Asia.

Thakur’s transfer to erstwhile digital music providers supplier Soundbuzz “was a tough flip into the deep world of expertise, enterprise and music licensing”.

After Motorola acquired (and subsequently shut down) Soundbuzz in 2008, Thakur shifted to consultancy for a few years. Amongst his purchasers was media conglomerate Occasions Group who enlisted him to steer a “digital pivoting technique” for Occasions Music.

In 2010, they provided him the full-time place of Occasions Music’s COO. “I keep in mind mentally telling myself, this might be a three-to-four yr factor.”

Amongst his achievements at Occasions Music – his longest employer so far – are growing the publishing enterprise in India (“We signify Warner/Chappell and peermusic right here”) and taking a forward-looking guess on the regional Indian language and pop market in 2017 by means of an funding in Punjabi label Pace Data (“At this time, we personal 25 to 30% of the Punjabi market”)…


What’s been essentially the most thrilling growth you’ve witnessed within the Indian business over time?

The very tectonic shift away from Bollywood. It’s an extended path however we’re on the trail. We’ve crossed the brief time period; it’s right here to remain. We’re constructing a pop business. That’s primary.

Quantity two, I’m in no way stunned concerning the proliferation of video in India. We’ve grown up on Chaya Geet (a Seventies and ’80s Indian tv programme on public service broadcaster Doordarshan that confirmed clips of songs from Hindi movies). We had been at all times a video-ready viewers. When everyone thought YouTube is the Mecca, I believe the brief format video revolution has kickstarted issues even beneath the YouTube layer.

“[There’s] a tectonic shift away from Bollywood… We’re constructing a pop business.”

I believe the proliferation of YouTube after which brief format video has a a lot greater cultural significance than music. That one man [on a short video app], even when he was a rest room singer, as we speak he’s received 10,000 followers.

When you have got audiences like that, you’re speaking a few completely different stage of relationship. Therefore that shift in the direction of liking artists [rather than just songs] will come from that floor flooring viewers. As a result of that viewers is speaking on to their age [group]. They haven’t any legacy, no labels, nothing.


What’s the most important false impression concerning the Indian market the world over?

That everyone is available in considering, ‘Oh my god, 1.4 billion folks,’ when to inform you the reality, 50% of them are questioning the place their subsequent meal goes to return from, not the subsequent style of music to take heed to.

As a subset to that, our viewers measurement [for monetized media] is 700 million folks, no more, out of which 400 million to 500 million is your music-consuming inhabitants.

“To inform you the reality, 50% of [India’s population today] are questioning the place their subsequent meal goes to return from, not the subsequent style of music to take heed to.”

The second false impression is that India [can be treated as] one nation. India is sort of a continent. A few of us don’t even appear like one another; a few of us don’t speak in the identical tongue.

It’s not about breaking into India, it’s about what half of India you break in. You [have to be] aligned to a multi-sliced, multi-territorial society. That’s the one manner to take a look at India.


What’s your tackle Indian music crossing over?

There are two very distinct issues: One is a crossover [within India] and the opposite is Indian music having a worldwide viewers [in terms of] sheer numbers.

What we’re seeing [so far] is the sheer measurement of the populace accessing  [YouTube] and that sheer uptake driving the numbers [of consumption] up. I’m very completely happy it’s taking place.

“Crossing over [globally] is basically what BTS has executed. Or Latin music. Indian music promoting in overseas lands to Indians; [it] will not be crossing over.”

In my thoughts, crossing over [globally] is basically what BTS has executed. Or Latin music. Indian music promoting in overseas lands to Indians; [it] will not be crossing over.

I do consider that as we speak we’re in a spot the place we can cross over. I don’t suppose that’s taking place with any [major] Bollywood names.

If it occurs…I do know the Punjabi guys, plenty of labels, notably worldwide ones, try to do writing camps and collaborations and engineering a few of these. If 15 of these come out, possibly two could have some type of influence.


A number of Indian business organizations have the identical folks on their boards. Is there a dearth of high music administration? Additionally, there’s not a single female-identifying member with a board seat at any of the principle commerce orgs. There’s clearly an enormous variety problem.

Right here’s the factor. Our business was underneath the shadow of Bollywood. And there have been just a few individuals who ran the business. However as we speak [that’s less true], if you happen to take a look at the structure of the boards. It’s after plenty of effort of three or 4 folks [at the largest companies] that we’ve received this all collectively.

[But] within the FMCG world, when you’ve got an FMCG [industry] board, don’t you suppose a P&G, Nestle and three or 4 [other large companies] must be on it? Likewise, 4 or 5 music firms need to be on every board as a result of 90% of the turnover is from these labels. The power of the little labels to outlive is as a result of these large guys are doing that a lot enterprise, creating employment.

“at Occasions Music, about 60% of our employees is girls. In my management group, 70% are girls.”

We’re a fucking mess in the case of variety [at the trade orgs]. Plenty of [individual] labels have girls working for them: at Occasions Music, about 60% of our employees is girls. In my management group, 70% are girls. Nearly each lawyer within the enterprise is a girl, [including those] at Common, Occasions Music, Radio Mirchi, Gaana, Sony Music, IMI.

[Improved diversity on trade body boards] is  only a matter of time. [But so far] we’ve been horrible at variety, most likely the worst on the earth. I agree that we [need to] do one thing within the very rapid future.


What’s the one factor you’d change concerning the business in a single day?

There may be not likely one factor. What I’d change is the maturity of the writing calibre of artists. I consider we’re not spending sufficient time on growing artists.

I [also] want we had sufficient authorities assist as an business, and the powers that be see us as an employment drive and individuals who create leisure for a lot of, many lives.

Lastly, I actually want the DSPs create a subscription market [in India] as a result of the way in which I take a look at it, lots of people are going to expire of enterprise capital cash and that may nearly destroy themselves and a few a part of the file business.


World Leaders is supported by PPL, a number one worldwide neighbouring rights collector, with best-in-class operations that assist performers and recording rightsholders all over the world maximise their royalties. Based in 1934, PPL collects cash from throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. It has collected over £500 million internationally for its members since 2006.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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