| 16 Jun 2024
Music industry saw a dip in 2014 but will see new models in 2015, says Devraj Sanyal

South Asia EMI and Universal Music Group MD: Devraj Sanyal


Compared to the last few years, we saw some incredible growth in traditional businesses this year, however, 2014 was definitely a slow year for growth. We did see some of the traditional money makers dip in performance, making way for growth in some newer businesses. 

Our business is very artist and brand focussed and hence, we did well this year; primarily driven by double digit growth in our live, music merchandise and brand agency business. 

Our basic consumption in the Indie space grew massively. For instance, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan garnered 26 million views, it is one of the highest viewed music videos this year. There were some incredible wins this year. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is massive for us; the album is adding million of views every week. Small bands like Faridkot, Samved and Coshish, sold as much as main stream artistes, which is fairly incredible. Samved and Coshish also received awards at Radio City Freedom Awards 2014. It shows the appreciation bands enjoy for their work. The growth is due to the push that Indie acts are getting through various channels like MTV Indies and Radio City. Meanwhile, YouTube is changing the fate of artistes. There are artistes like Shraddha Sharma, Salim Sulaiman and Adnan Sami, who have clearly done well this year as compared to 2012-2013, in terms of actual sales. Physical is slowing dying and growth is massively skewed under digital.

The sales are not dependent on Nokia and CRBT alone, but include consumption through iTunes, Wynk, Guvera, Gaana, Saavn and Hungama.

We continue to be the most innovative business in the region because we look at innovative alternate methods to grow outside the traditional path. The business that we are in, we control both market and mindshare and it is the most important matrix for us. 

Number of artistes

We published 20-30 artistes which include big, medium and small names. We are the only non-film label and only we can do it. We sign as many bands and artistes as possible across various genres like rock, metal, regional and others. In the Indie space, Hindi Indie bands are doing well now because it is supported by a huge live business. Then, there is the English/EDM genre that is growing. 

We are big believers in the non-film music space in the country and we will always continue to support artistes from this world. 


Streaming is the future of the music business, both worldwide and in India. We have seen massive growth in freemium subscribers, while paid subscribers are still a challenge, but it is only a matter of time. I see small subscription fees with internet laws become stricter and piracy will reduce over a time. I see the next two to three years change the face of the music industry. 

Live shows

In December alone, we did 26 shows out of 31 days. Throughout the year, we have done 500 plus shows in India and the rest of the world with our domestic artistes.


The merchandise business is a multi-million dollar business and in India, it is already growing incredibly well. With every passing year, we are adding new categories. Our merchandise line now boasts of everything from t-shirts, caps and hoodies to stationary and bags. In 2015, we will see mobile covers and watches being added on. 

International artistes

2014 saw huge growth in international music. Enrique Iglesias was huge for us and we were the first market to go platinum. Taylor Swift and 5 Seconds of Summer were acts that did brilliantly well this year.


India based Qyuki is the largest MCN in the country and we have partnered with them for everything that is music related. We announced the partnership with Qyuki six months ago, when no one was looking at the space.

After the Qyuki partnership with Fullscreen, we are now sitting on two billion minutes of watch time a year. The partnership with Qyuki is an exclusive strategic partnership. Through this partnership, Universal Music was thinking ahead of the curve.

i-genius Young Singing Stars

Out of 1.26 lakh entries, we had two winners- Shraddha Shree and Shivam Ahuja. We will continue this as a long-term brand partnered IP and hope to take it to television next year. Max Life Insurance and Universal Music group are committed to make this platform one of the most compelling ones to find the best talents in the country.

Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh

We have witnessed sustained growth both, in sales and licensing in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Since, the bases are small we continue to grow sharply. We are investing heavily in artistes from those regions.


Next year, we are forecasting 100 per cent growth in alternative business. We have just launched our first Intellectual property (IP) called ‘Trot’ which will be rolled out on 3rd January in Goa. Trot will have more than 15 events across the country in 2015. There will be other much larger IPs that you will see starting 2015. The period from 2015 to 2018, will see us investing heavily in this space across various art forms of music including electronic, rock/metal, classical and sufi.

In 2015, the properties we plan to broadcast will go digital first. It will fit in the Qyuki and Fullscreen partnerships, and then it will be sub-channeled to other mediums like television and radio. We aim to be a digital first company in the coming year.

In 2015, we will see many new interesting models coming up in the label and non-traditional space. 



Sanyal started his journey with Universal Music group in 2001, and since then he has continued to push the Independent space in India. He stands lasting relation with music as he continues to be the frontman of the heavy metal band Brahma. He was rated as the top 25 executives under 40 running corporate India by Business Today and also won the IES Udyog Rattan Award for 2013.