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News |  27 Jan 2021 14:06 |  By RnMTeam

Legendary AR Rahman announces new venture maajja, and global music festival YAALL in Chennai

MUMBAI: India’s most popular voices never get the same fame and adulation as some of its most famous faces. Grammy Award and two-time Oscar winner AR Rahman wants to change that status quo.

On January 26, Rahman announced his latest initiative, maajja – a technology-enabled label alternative focused on empowering the next generation of artists with complete creative control, resources and global reach. maajja is the brainchild of Canadian entrepreneurs Noel Kirthiraj, Sen Sachi, Prasana Balachandran and the acclaimed music director.

maajja’s mission is simple, to create the first-of-its-kind platform for the independent music scene that offers creative liberty as well as global reach. It will focus on amplifying the voice of South Asian talent globally and help them develop successful and sustainable careers in music, unhindered by the machinations of the film industry.

You can watch the announcement here:

An innovator and initiator, Rahman’s interest in leveraging technology to elevate the independent music scene bears fruit in the shape of maajja and has been a long-standing dream for the director who also set up one of India’s finest music education institutes, KM Music Conservatory, in 2008.

“There are an overwhelming number of artists and musicians around us that go unnoticed and under-appreciated,” says the music director who has won two Grammy Awards, one for the original score for Slumdog Millionaire and another for the global hit, ‘Jai Ho’.

“Many of them begin their journey but unfortunately, not everyone is heard or gets a platform. With today’s digital age, there should no longer be these barriers. maajja will function with the singular focus of being artist-centric. There is a sense of empowerment now with technology, and this whole idea behind maajja is to nudge artists, so that they can shine on an international stage. maajja is about seeing the big picture, on a global scale,” Rahman adds.

Rahman’s dream is what drives his co-founding team of serial entrepreneurs, and given their background in technology and entertainment, Kirthiraj believes maajja has the potential to disrupt the South Asian indie music industry.

“Napster paved the way for digital music distribution, iTunes changed how music was purchased and Spotify took it to another level – streaming is now the de facto way to consume music across the world. Music is more accessible than ever, the industry is booming, yet artists are left holding the short end of the stick by giving up ownership of their music and end up leaving a lot of money on the table,” says maajja CEO and co-founder Noel Kirthiraj, giving a glimpse into the idea behind the platform. “All artists need to think of themselves as brands and CEOs of their own businesses. We want to democratize and demystify the ecosystem and the business of music. This is maajja’s vision,” he adds.

YAALL Fest, a global music festival

A line-up of names, led by luminaries of the Tamil film industry alongside up-and-coming Indian and global talent – curated and chosen by Rahman himself – will power YAALL Fest, maajja’s premier showcase in Chennai.

“Growing up in Chennai, I saw four different worlds, four different languages collide and come together. In this divisive world, our shared culture and language unites us. YAALL is the first step in expanding our industry and share the joy that we get from music. M.I.A., one of the biggest artists on the global stage, and someone who is central to this idea of celebrating Tamil culture, gave a lot of input to this festival, including the name, YAALL,” Rahman adds.

British-Tamil artist and provocateur M.I.A. is the creative vision behind YAALL, and will play a very involved role as the project evolves. “The name YAALL is a mixture of ancient Tamil words where Y stands for yatra (journey) A for adhi (beginning), A for agam (inside), L for lokam (world) and finally L for latchiyam (ambition). The ambition of YAALL is to bring out what is within us and project something new forward into the world. This is an exciting project for Chennai and for something that’s birthed in India, and bridges all these different communities coming together,” says the Grammy-nominated artist.

In the lead-up to YAALL, maajja will present a series of digital events titled ‘Road to YAALL’ through 2021. The first edition of ‘Road to YAALL’ is scheduled to be held during the weekend of February 13 and 14 – due to the prevailing restrictions necessitated by the global pandemic – and will be presented as a digital music festival.

This event will feature established names and up-and-coming talent from the music scene in Chennai and around the world, led by AR Rahman. The line-up for Road to YAALL will be announced shortly.

‘Road to YAALL’ will premiere on Vijay Music during the weekend of February 13 and 14, and will also be available to view on maajja’s social media channels, including YouTube.