Universal Music Group announced a strategic expansion of its leadership team within India and South Asia

Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music entertainment, today announced a strategic expansion of its leadership team within India and South Asia, to reinforce its position as the leading music company for non-film music within the region and to accelerate its growth across the original artist, non-film music and hip-hop genres in India and South Asia.


Over the past three years, UMI has led the evolution of the domestic Indian music market with a series of strategic label launches, combined with increased A&R focus in original Indian non-film music and talent. This focus has enabled UMI artists to reach new audiences both locally and globally, whilst expanding the opportunities for non-film talent outside of Bollywood film music, which has traditionally dominated India’s commercial music and airplay charts.


In January 2018, UMI launched VYRL Originals, India’s first dedicated non-film label, which has released more than 40 singles, from a roster of 25 artists including; Mithoon, Asees Kaur, Arjun Kanungo, Lisa Mishra, Tanishk Bagchi, Sukriti & Prakriti Kakkar, Akull Tandon & -Vishal Mishra, establishing the label as India’s premier destination for non-film talent. In November 2019, VYRL Originals single ‘Intezaar’ from Mithoon featuring Arijit Singh & Asees Kaur made history as the first non-film release to top India’s national AirCheck T20 radio airplay charts for three consecutive weeks.


Since the launch of VYRL Originals, UMI has further extended and established the VYRL brand, partnering with broadcast partners Red FM to launch Ricky Singh Ka VYRL Countdown – India’s first character based non-film countdown show across 40 cities in India. This is the first and only weekly primetime show dedicated to non-film music. In addition, UMI launched the VYRL Top 20 Playlist across all digital partner platforms, curated and based on listening patterns and audience preferences from across India.


This was followed last year by the launch of Mass Appeal India, in conjunction with legendary U.S. rapper Nas. Mass Appeal India is the new authentic home for Indian hip-hop, as the genre continues to rapidly grow in popularity throughout the sub-continent. The label’s first signing DIVINE, the godfather of Mumbai’s hip-hop scene, released his debut album Kohinoor to critical and commercial acclaim in October 2019, with several major Indian hip-hop artists, set to debut music in 2020.


Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO Universal Music India and South Asia, said, We are truly in a sea change moment for music in India, with an audience that is consuming more music, video and content than ever before. Because of this we have worked hard alongside our partners over the past two years, to build and launch new sub-labels that put artistic creativity and collaboration at the heart of every release, and where artist’s voices and talent can be seen and heard, starting with VYRL Originals and Mass Appeal India and with further exciting initiatives to follow in the coming months.”


Adam Granite, Executive Vice President, Market Development at UMG said, “Devraj and the senior management team in India have done an incredible job opening the door for non-film music to break into the mainstream and reach a new mass audience of fans in India, within the vast Indian diaspora around the world and hopefully beyond. The potential for artist talent and creativity in India is huge and we are excited to support their efforts to bring original Indian music to the world and further establish UMG as the home for non-film music talent and success in the region.”


In order to support these developing labels and further future initiatives, UMI has announced a series of strategic appointments to strengthen its commitment to expanding the horizons for original Indian artist music and content long into the future.


Vinit Thakkar has been promoted from SVP to the newly created position of COO, India and South Asia, effective immediately. In his new role, he will work closely with Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO Universal Music India and South Asia, to continue to strengthen UMI’s position as a true home for artists in the region. Thakkar will be responsible for driving India’s overall content strategy, strategic initiatives and operational efficiency, to ensure that UMI continues to lead and innovate in this rapidly evolving market. Having joined UMI in 2012, Thakkar has held several senior positions within UMI and was instrumental in the launch of VYRL Originals, alongside acclaimed Bollywood Director Mohit Suri. Prior to joining UMG, Thakkar held positions at Sony Music, Citibank and Titan. Based in Mumbai, he will continue to report to Sanyal.


In addition, Gaurav Chaturvedi has been appointed as VP, Domestic Labels, Universal Music Group India, responsible for leading label activity, strategy and releases for all domestic UMI labels effective immediately. The role will focus on the expansion and development of VYRL Originals alongside several other key label initiatives to be announced in the coming months. Chaturvedi will be based in Mumbai and will report to Thakkar. He joins UMI from Indian Media conglomerate Star India Pvt Ltd where he held the position of Assistant Vice-president Marketing and was responsible for leading marketing strategy and activation for their Star Sports network across all major sports verticals; Cricket, Kabaddi & Football to the channel’s global audience. Prior to joining Star India in 2013, he held senior marketing positions at Sony Music Entertainment India and Zee Entertainment.


To further enhance UMI’s capabilities across brand partnerships and artist campaigns, Pranav Thakker has been appointed as General Manager, New Business Development at Universal Music Group Brands (UMGB) for India and South Asia. An experienced branding executive within the region, Pranav previously worked at TVF (The Viral Fever), Big FM and DNA (Zee Media Ltd) and will report to Preeti Nayyar, Vice President, New Business Development, India & South Asia. In recent years, UMI has achieved great success in this field, successfully launching The Sterling Reserve Music Project in partnership with Allied Blenders & Distillers to incubate unique local Indian talent, that has helped unearth and release several breakthrough artists through its channels, as well as award winning campaigns with Aloft Hotels, OK Cupid, HDFC Life Insurance & Levis.


Sanyal and the UMI management team will continue to work closely alongside Adam Granite to identify further opportunities for UMI artists to reach new audiences and fans around the world, utilizing UMG’s unrivalled global network of industry leading businesses spanning more than 60 countries worldwide.


Vinit Thakkar said, “This is an exciting time for Indian artists and music, and we are looking forward to further expanding the horizons of what is possible to achieve with VYRL Originals and our other domestic labels. I am very proud that our efforts have resulted in creating a culture and category of non-film music in India. I am very excited about my new role whereby alongside Devraj, I will be responsible for driving UMG’s strategic expansion in the region.”


Announcing the changes, Sanyal said, “I am thrilled to announce these strategic appointments, as we look to marry our ambition to increase the scale and reach of original music in India and our continued focus and commitment to domestic A&R, with real action to help revolutionize the listening experience for Indian music fans. Under Vinit’s guidance, VYRL Originals has become the blueprint for non-film music success in India, and I look forward to working closely together with him in his new role to achieve further innovation and success. The addition of Gaurav and Pranav to our senior management team will help expand the boundaries of commercial success for our recording artists, label teams and amplify the opportunities for local and international artists to reach new fans, both here in India, and also around the world.”

NEXA Music unveils its much anticipated song, “You Got Me”


NEXA Music released its much awaited music video by maestro A.R. Rahman. Titled “You’ve Got Me”, this music video is about celebration of music and new indigenous talent in English Music.

NEXA Music, Lab: ‘NEXA Music, Lab’ was instituted to provide an English music platform to aspiring musicians. Over 1000 entries were received across the country, of which the top 24 were shortlisted by the jury comprising A.R. Rahman and Clinton Cerejo. These musicians were guided by the jury to reproduce their tracks under the mentorship of headline talent of renowned musicians. The 24 original English music compositions by the participants were released on NEXA Music’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM8qWp3yk6zXsuHfo2ei4SQ). These videos complemented the 4 exclusive NEXA Music videos composed and released by headline talent from NEXA Music.

Today’s announcement is also for 4 winners under ‘NEXA Music, Lab’. These winners feature in the music video, “You Got Me” along with A.R. Rahman. Further, they will go on to compose 4 original exclusive songs and feature in their respective music videos.

NEXA Music, Live Gigs is NEXA’s endeavor to provide exclusive experience to its customers and the audience at large. This will serve as a platform for these budding musicians who will get a chance to perform live with mentors and headline talent. A total of 12 live gigs are planned across 8 cities in the country.

Speaking about NEXA Music Mr. Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki India Limited said, “NEXA Music was launched with an aim to provide a unique platform to the untapped English musical genius in the country With global music icons like A.R. Rahman mentoring these musicians to hone their skills, we are assured of compositions that match global standards. The initiative also allows us as a brand to facilitate the showcase of new talent while reinforcing NEXA’s philosophy of ‘Create. Inspire.’. Through NEXA, we have consistently endeavored to craft a delightful experience for our customers which go beyond car purchase.”

Talking about the association with NEXA Music, Mr. A R Rahman said, “The NEXA partnership has made it possible to extend the much needed support to independent artists who are creating original English music

across India. Our objective is to give budding artists a chance to collaborate with some of the best musicians in the industry to produce music that reaches viewers across the world.”


NEXA Music was instituted by NEXA in association with A.R. Rahman’s media venture Qyuki Digital Media to provide a platform for young musical talent in India, promoting original English compositions.

Rapper duo Zachariah Prasad & Waseem Win the Qualifier in Hyderabad for Season 3 of Red Bull Spotlight

rapper duo Prozach and EE win Hyderabad Qualifier of Red Bull Spotlight S3

Red Bull Spotlight, a nationwide hunt for the country’s next hip-hop star, returns this month for a third season. Scheduled to be held in over 10 cities across the country – including Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kochi, Indore, Pune, Chandigarh and more. Two boys from St. Mary Yousufguda, Zachariah Prasad a.k.a Prozach & Waseem a.k.a EE were declared the Hyderabad winners by Judge Swadesi.


Winners of the city rounds will go head-to-head at the national final where, following a showcase by each of the finalists, one national champion will be crowned. The winner will be given the opportunity to record their full-length album at a professional studio, plus other benefits including a full press kit – complete with a photo shoot and album art for their newly recorded album – and a music video. In addition, each of the city winners will be given studio time to record one song along with a video.


In 2019, Red Bull Spotlight was held in 10 cities across the country with a duo, Warboy x DEVM, emerging victorious after the national final in Mumbai. The event was judged by some of the country’s most credible rap groups – Seedhe Maut, Swadesi and Dopeadelicz. The duo have now recorded their debut album, titled Out of the Blue, with the first single off the album now out.

Festival of the year- Dhol Fest at Pacific mall Tagore Garden

Jassmanak at Pacific Mall Tagore Garden b

Pacific mall brings the festival of the year- Dhol Fest on 21st February 2020 at Tagore Garden. Grooving to the beats of Sandal and Jaani Teri Naa as super hit singer Sunanda Sharma & Prada & Lehenga fame Jass Manak blow all away with their live performances at Mirchi Dhol Fest.

The last evening of the thrilling show saw a power-packed performance by Prada singer Jass Manak and Sandal singer Sunanda Sharma who made the crowd dance their hearts out. They both made the crowd go crazy with their songs. Youngsters were cheering out loud for both the sensational singers when they sang a few of their hit numbers. Jass Manak and Sunanda Sharma highly appreciated the spontaneous response that they received from the audience and they also believe that the crowd of Pacific Mall has a great taste in music and they both love performing here.

Mr Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific Group said, “We thanked both the sensational singer to give their live performance and make the evening of Pacific Mall so cheerful. It is surely a beautiful evening to be remembered in the journey of Pacific Mall. The crowd danced to the Punjabi Music and dhol beats and kept grooving as they belted out the songs.”

ZEE5 premieres Babbar Ka Tabbar – an Original Series


Close on the heels of the successful launch of Zero KMS, ZEE5 – India’s largest and most comprehensive digital entertainment platform for multilingual entertainment, today released yet another unmissable series, a light humoured family watch – Babbar Ka Tabbar.

Babbar Ka Tabbar reflects the times that we live in and addresses the generation gap between today’s youth and their parents in a quirky way. Watch out for the ultimate generation battle that’s the story of every household in the country! The series showcases a Punjabi family, the Babbars and their daily life struggles while trying to maintain sanity. Their saviour is their tenant Jamia played by Anshuman Jha, who becomes the sutradhaar between the parents and the kids. Jamia, because of his affinity to every member becomes almost a ‘part of the family’, providing solutions to everyday issues in the lives of the Babbars.

The 12-episode series set in Delhi is launching in 2 parts and stars Manu Rishi, Anshuman Jha, Ayesha Raza, Avneet Kaur and Bhavin Bhanushali who portray quirky and loveable characters. A ‘trying too hard to be cool’ father, an over-protective mother, a socially-awkward son, an overconfident daughter and a good-for-nothing paying guest cum family therapist. All these characters come together to make Babbar Ka Tabbar, a masala entertainer you can’t afford to miss.

LSD (Love, Sex aur Dhoka) fame Anshuman Jha, on his first web series says, “It has been really exciting working with seasoned actors like Manu Rishi and Ayesha Raza. Babbar ka Tabbar is fresh, relatable and a fun to watch series, something I have never attempted before. I can’t wait to find out the audience’s reaction to the show.”

ZEE5 has a diverse array of content that it is curating through the platform. Zero KMS– a thriller series, Mehmaan riding on suspense and Life Sahi Hai 2– a mix of drama and comedy; these are Hindi shows already garnering a great response. The regional series like Horn Ok Please in Marathi, America Mappillai in Tamil, Nanna Koochi in Telugu, Utsaha Ithihasam in Malayalam, etc. and some of our big launches in pipeline include – Sunny Leone’s biopic ‘Karenjit Kaur’, ‘Lockdown’, the first musical series from Rapper Badshah’s production house and many more.

Manish Aggarwal, Chief Marketing Officer, ZEE5 India said, “After Life Sahi Hai 2, here is another mass entertainer from our OC stable, and we are confident that the Babbars and Jamia will be loved as much as the rest of our characters. Since our launch, we have been registering viewers from across the country who are seeking entertainment and are willing to pay for it. This is in keeping with the content strategy we have carefully chalked out for ZEE5, and viewers have much to look forward to in the coming months. In a first, we will also be offering the first two episodes of Babbar ka Tabbar free for non-subscribers; we are confident that this binge watch-worthy series will have the viewer hooked.”

Speaking about the show, Victor Mukherjee, Producer of the show, said: “We are excited about partnering with ZEE5 on a format that is unique and has loads of desi tadka. Babbar Ka Tabbar is a light-hearted, funny and entertaining show which is perfect for an entertaining binge-watching experience. It has been an absolute pleasure working with such brilliant actors. We do hope the viewers enjoys watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

ZEE5 has an exciting original content line-up which will feature some of the biggest and most entertaining faces from the world of Indian entertainment. The platform will have 90+ original shows by the end of March 2019.

Availability: The ZEE5 App can be downloaded from Google Play Storehttp://bit.ly/zee5andand iOS App Storehttp://bit.ly/zee5ios. Also available at www.zee5.com, as a Progressive Web App (PWA), and on Apple TVand Amazon Fire TV Stick.ZEE5 also supports Chromecast.

“It is time we should celebrate our Indian heroes and not look at the West” – Varun Dhawan

L-R_Varun Dhawan, Amish,Vikas Singh at the cover launch of Suheldev and the Battle Of Bahraich (1) (1)

One of India’s most popular authors, Amish launched the cover of his new book, ‘Suheldev and The Battle of Bahraich’, at Title Waves, Bandra. Gracing the event was millennial heartthrob Varun Dhawan who through his varied work in Hindi cinema have won the hearts of millions of people.

‘Suheldev and The Battle of Bahraich’, traces the story of Raja Suheldev, a legendary but forgotten hero and an unforgettable battle which kept the Turks at bay for almost 170 years. The book, assisted by Vikas Singh, is the first book with which Amish has introduced Writer’s Center in India and will be published under Amish’s brand new series titled ‘Indic Chronicles’.

While speaking at the event Varun went on to discuss how excited he would be to feature in an adaptation Amish’s books. “When you read the book and when you see the landscape of how he describes the world, your imaginations just run wild. Then I thought when a movie can be made out of this. Can I be a part of it or will I be very short for it? I was very fascinated with the back drop of the book. It tells the story of a hero.”

Hearing Amish’s thoughts on how the author is trying to revive the legends of our forgotten heroes, the actor said, “It’s the time when we should celebrate our Indian heroes and not look at the West to look up to heroes. I want to say is that around 20-25% of the population is made up of tribes and castes and that’s not really been represented in books or our literature as much or in films for that matter. Amish is doing a great job by actually representing it. He is doing a better job than politicians by writing about a hero.”

To this an excited Amish said, “With Indic Chronicles I want to explore unexplored heroes who are forgotten in histroy. There are so many heroes who have been airbrushed in our textbooks and it is time we learn about the rich culture of our motherland.”

When asked whose biography the actor would like to play on screen someday, Varun says, “You know honestly when someone offers me to do a biography, I get scared. I don’t want to do it most of the times because I feel all the fictional characters I am playing are like biographies but only to me. I think if I had to do a biography on someone, it would be on my father’s life. Sometime in the future I would like to enact his young and old days. Probably till the time he had me.”

‘Suheldev and The Battle of Bahraich’ will be published by ​​Westland (An Amazon Company) and will release on 23 July 2018 across online and offline bookstores.

World Environment Day: Lack of access to finance key hurdle in municipal solid waste mgmt., says study

The Government must set up a financial mechanism for municipal solid waste management (MSWM) which makes an agency responsible, will ensure that the system works with the necessary revenue collection that it was deemed to make, suggested an ASSOCHAM-PwC joint study.
“Finance is a major issue in solid waste management sector. Implementing agencies and ULBs (urban local bodies) in particular, find it difficult to create and manage projects with limited finance,” noted a 2017 ASSOCHAM-PwC joint report titled, ‘Waste Management in India-Shifting Gears.’
It further said that infrastructure created is not properly utilised and the return on investment is often neglected leading to failure of the entire effort.
It was also highlighted that private sector which is held up as more efficient in terms of MSWM is facing issues in terms of access to market based/debt finance for projects.
“While the private sector has been involved in waste management services on a regular basis, the sector has seen a number of issues and bottlenecks which have made it challenging to successfully implement projects,” said the report.
It added that lukewarm response of banks and financial institutions is a major issue seen in MSWM.
The ASSOCHAM-PwC study sought ‘industry’ status for waste management sector to provide it necessary boost and regulatory adherence with dedicated monitoring and compliance cell.
Considering the direct and indirect implications of poorly managed waste to urban environment and India’s economy and growth prospects, the study impressed upon the need for relooking into the present systems of waste management in the country.
It also noted that mismatch between requirement and availability of waste management services together with improper planning, constraints in capacity to manage waste using modern techniques and best practices, complex institutional setup, and limited funds with urban local bodies (ULBs) have collectively led Indian cities and towns to crumble under piles of garbage left in the open.
Welcoming the changes made in the Plastic Waste Management Rules, the study said that ‘real implementation is yet to happen.’
“A full-scale preparatory exercise needs to happen for its implementation before we can take on this mammoth issue called ‘plastic pollution,’” it recommended.
It further said that the wave of cleanliness drives had brought some change in Indian mindset about waste management in over past two years. “The momentum should be utilised for benefit of the sector and implementation of rules and regulations should now be started on a serious note.”