| 23 Jul 2024
I want Amplify Times to be the Billboard of India: Varun Gupta

MUMBAI: A suburban Mumbai club hosted the launch of independent artiste Richa Sharma’s newest single 'Jogi De Naal' on Monday. Apart from the singer’s (Richa Sharma) birthday, the night held special importance to the personalities involved into the execution of the single. Small wonder then, that Varun Gupta had a huge grin on his face.

Founder and the Managing Director of Amplify Times, the label behind the single, Gupta stood on the platform and thanked everyone that contributed to the latest musical initiative. Amplify Times is a three-month-old record label that has released 16 singles so far, and while it plans to focus on being a label company, Gupta says the agency would also continue to act as a talent management outlet. The founder joked on stage, “A lot of artistes rejected me as their manager, so now I decided to do things on my own.”

The attendees included Sunidhi Chauhan, Hard Kaur, Raghav Sachar, Hariharan and other prominent musicians of the non-film music space. However, the neatly executed event purely focused on the single ‘Jogi De Naal’. And that, Varun Gupta assured, would be Amplify Times’ mantra. “Spreading the right music,” added Gupta, “through the platform for those who just want to create something refreshing would be promoted.”
The label’s intent to recreate the 1990s era of music, when non film music received on par support and popularity as film music, is being appreciated by an industry, where the vacuum was being felt keenly. With an impressive release of 16 singles in last three months, the consistency and intent of Amplify Times label cannot be questioned.

More than the degrading quality of music where “vulgarity in lyrics and videos has overshadowed music itself”, Gupta asserts that artists and audience have forgotten ‘Indian’ culture. “It’s a shameful thing. If you look back at the 90s, the focus on vulgarity to sell your content was not the motive. The music drove the artiste’s success, not the other elements.”

Gupta says his label will provide equal emphasis to videos. “Although we want to recreate the 90s essence sonically, we also need to move with the times. Of course, we won’t be able to spend Rs 25 lakh on every video, we will continue to package a song with video when necessary.” Gupta’s intent can also be judged from the fact that the newly launched label has already found streaming partners in Gaana, Saavn, Times and the association extends to Spotify and Apple on the international front. “Three months into the release of the first few singles, and I have started to make money now,” informed Gupta, who was advised by a friend before venturing into the business citing it would lead him into bankruptcy. But Gupta continued with the idea. “I want Amplify Times to be the Billboard of India.”

With a target to release at least 80 more singles in the next four months, Gupta understands the magnitude of the responsibility, but proposes a solution to every potential obstacle. ‘Jogi De Naal’ received (in four hours) around 70 shares since its release on the website, but numbers and figures do not hold a big role in Gupta’s definition of success. The artist’s willingness to return to Amplify Times – rather than YouTube views – will define the success for the founder, and so far, Gupta has every reason to be happy. “Every artiste I have worked with, wants to work with us again.”

On how he intends to recreate the 90s phase where non-film music was consumed as much (if not more) as film music, Gupta replied, “I own a production house. I have experience in the field of music prior to Amplify Times, I worked on the WC 2007 album, and I understand the essential measures that promote or market content.” To his credit, just the single ‘Jogi De Naal’ found associate partners in radio, television, print and digital. With the availability of caller tunes for the ‘single’ across telcos, the ambitious founder wants to push it similarly on international networks too.

So how does one upload content through Amplify Times? “The artist just has to call me (number provided on the website), and share the content with me. I am always on the lookout. Day or night, my activities are planned around discovering new content, and if I like it, I release the single on my label. And if necessary, I could also invest on creating a video around it.”

Shankar Mahadevan featuring Swagata Sarkar’s upcoming single will be Amplify Times’ next release, and while every other label acknowledges that bigger names demand bigger release, Gupta insists that he remains unbiased to his approach.

It would be unfair to claim that Amplify Times will become the first initiative to bring back the ‘good ol’ days of the 90s’, or promote the independent artiste, but an effort for a dedicated cause surely deserves a due support and respect.