| 26 Nov 2022
UK based Horus Music forays into the Indian market

MUMBAI: With plans to expand into the Indian market, UK based Horus Music has set the ball rolling by opening its first office in Mumbai. Incorporated in 2006 Horus Music provides services like music distribution and publishing. With a catalogue of over 50 thousand plus songs, and a distribution network covering 700 digital platforms, the company has a strong global presence. Horus Music was founded by Nick Dunn who has steered it for almost a decade. Dunn has identified the potential in the Indian market thus expanding their base in India.  Dunn and Nina Condron (Head of Business Development) spoke with about their India story and the future for Horus Music in India.

How did you decide the venture into the Indian market?

It started when we were at MIDEM last year, and I was introduced to Meetal Shah the British Deputy High Commissioner, who suggested that India is growing market, and the Government is keen to help businesses. We did not have much of an idea about the music scene in India and how to get into the market, but wanted to take up the opportunity. It seems to be the best time to invest in India, as the economy is growing, smart phone and data users are only increasing. Also it is important for us to explore new territories and find out how music is consumed, we realised after coming to India, that music consumption through streaming is massive.

We were at ‘The Exchange’ last year and also did some prior research, in the process we heard of Saavn, Hungama, and many other digital platforms, and also got to meet them.  It was exciting to see what these stores are doing here, we were amazed by the quality of their apps. We thought this is a good opportunity for our catalogue to be consumed in India, and as a result we quickly built those relationships and have most of those contracts in place. In fact, we are one of the first companies from the UK to tie up with Saavn.

How are you poised in India as of now?

Our main focus for this visit to India is to send a message to emphasise the fact that we are serious about our India venture and are here for long term business. We have already opened an office in Mumbai and have contracts with few online stores. Our intention is to have a strong presence in India, so we are also looking to hire the right person locally, someone who can take the Indian entity ahead. As of now, there are on-going legal proceedings to set up a full-fledged Indian entity. There is a lot of investment of time and money for setting up our infrastructure, legal documentation, permissions, taxation and accounting, so this operation will take some time, but it is a steady process.  Horus was built over a decade and we have learned and evolved over the years and will do the same in India.

Tell us a little about the business and services that you offer?

Well, Horus Music started out in 2006 as a music management company, but soon we realised that it was important for us to have our own label. Over the years,  the industry landscape transformed with music consumption going digital, therefore music distribution, was the natural way to go. Today we distribute our music all over the world to over 700 stores and have a catalogue of over 50 thousand tracks. We have various packages for distribution, for example an artist can sign up for free distribution and receive 80 per cent of the revenue earned for their track consumed via downloads or streaming, or they can sign up by paying one upfront fee and take home 100 per cent of the revenue. We want the artist to have the lion’s share.

Publishing is another aspect of our business; we are members of GVL, PPI and PRS. PRS deals with other societies on our behalf.  As our content grows, we intend to go overseas to tie up with other societies across the world. But first, we need to get our publishing infrastructure in place. We have one of our team members who is dedicated to look for sync deals for our publishing clients. Artists can avail our services for both, distribution and publishing. Apart from sync, we also help with Youtube content ID and Soundcloud finger-printing, these technologies help to monitor unauthorised use of music and with content ID we automatically monetise this for the artists.

We also have another company Help for Bands, where we write blogs about things that are happening in the music industry and release a monthly newsletter that features labels/publishers, managers and booking agents that are actively looking for independent artists, to give them opportunities for live gigs, etc.

Do you have any Indian content on your catalogue?

Indian content is very minimal on our catalogue at the moment. We are based in Leicester, which has a sizeable Indian population, and there are independent musicians with Indian roots, that is how we received some Indian content. India and UK share a long history; it would be great to facilitate the exchange of music between both these countries. We realise Bollywood is mainstream here, but there is a huge underserved independent market which would be our main focus. Our intention is to help expose these independent artists to a global platform.

How does an artist/band sign up with Horus, and what kind of music are you looking at?

It’s pretty simple. You can just visit the website and sign up. The artists can choose the package that suits their needs and their account will be created. Once that is done, music can be uploaded. As of now we do not have an Indian domain, but we are working on it. As far as the music is concerned, we are open to every genre as long the production is of decent quality. We send out the tracks to over 700 digital stores.  As India’s demographics are getting younger, we hope to acquire new and fresh content as we believe that will sell more than catalogue tracks.

Have you signed up with any labels in India?

None yet, we are still getting our infrastructure in place. We need to make sure we have proper systems, accountability, delivery and payment mechanisms etc. May be by early next year, when we are ready, we intend to approach labels.

Are you looking to buy catalogues from record labels.

We have never believed in buying catalogues, it could be a risky decision to invest money on a catalogue if it does not sell. Also the reality is that we are not in a position to invest a huge amount, as we do not have investors and we do not intend to get investors. If people see that we are offering a good, transparent service, I believe the word will spread and more music will come to us.  The music industry is also a music community. If one artist is happy with our service, I am sure they will recommend it to a number of other artists. This has worked before for us in the UK. We are having conversations with labels, but do not have any deals or contracts as of yet.

How do you see the role of the record label in today’s music landscape?

Record labels have a certain place. They have the infrastructure to be the tastemakers, and they can select good artists. An artist, to be associated with a record label has some more clout. Record labels have the budgets for production, marketing, placements on radio, sync etc., but it is not necessary  to be signed to a label, as there are many artists who do it themselves and are successful. That’s where distribution companies like us can help the artist distribute the music and avoid the cut the label would take, record labels traditionally take a big cut. We also assist in marketing and publishing.

Labels can provide good opportunities for exposure and the artist just has to create good music, but without a label, there is a lot of work the artist has to do. There are also examples of artists who have signed with labels but have not been successful. Being an artist is extremely expensive, and labels absorb a lot of costs for the artist hoping to recoup the investment later. If an artist goes around doing things independently, they need to fund their own music. Label or no label, it’s the quality of music that matters.

Do you deal with all sizes of record labels, and what is it that a label expects from a distribution company?

Well, we only deal with independent label and not the majors. We have spent years building contacts and the distribution mechanism, and also represent a lot of catalogues. If a small/independent record label wants to distribute its catalogue onto various digital platforms, it will take ages. So it is easier for them to come to us for distribution. We also provide marketing, support and advice and we can share our expertise in this field. We deal with lots of currencies, so we have banking mechanism for quick and transparent payments. These conveniences of carrying out business are just a few basics that an independent label can expect.

Do you extensively curate artists, and if yes, how do you do it?

Like I said earlier, we are open to artists of every genre. We listen to all kinds of music. It is not the musicianship that we look at, but the production quality. On an average we receive new client sign ups from about 2 to 3 artists every day. We have a trained team and the efficient business processes that allow us to handle such volumes.

We need to be extremely cautious as far as sending the right kind of music to certain stores, for example Beatport and Pandora are very selective. Beatport only accepts dance music and Pandora is a non-interactive radio and doesen't accept certain genres. We listen to new music every day as every release submitted to us is listened to and then we make sure that the music is distributed on the specified release date with almost 99 per cent accuracy. Our team includes two tech wizards in Croatia who have built our systems. Our systems and processes are efficient, we thoroughly and methodically check the metadata and we score very well on iTunes accuracy levels. 

How soon can we expect Horus to be fully operational in India?

At the moment we are waiting for the legal and regulatory aspects to be completed. We are working with KPMG and the progress is good. The most important thing is to hire the right person for the job, as we need someone who can build the business from scratch. Last year after 'The Exchange', we managed to strike deals with VuClip, Biscoot and various other platforms, so you can see the ball is rolling. The company will hopefully be live soon. If everything goes as planned, we might be fully operational in India by maybe April or May 2016.