Universal makes major move into Punjabi music with Desi Melodies partnership

Jaani and Arvindr Khaira, Desi Melodies

Universal Music India (UMI) has announced an exclusive multi-year, global distribution deal with highly successful Indian music company Desi Melodies.

Founded in Mohali, in the Punjab region of northern India by Jaani (Lyricist, Singer) and Arvindr Khaira (Director, Filmmaker), Desi Melodies has led a contemporary wave of Punjabi music hits in recent years.

Universal Music India will now exclusively distribute all audio recordings from the Desi Melodies label catalog, including past releases, future non-film releases and all other projects.

UMI says it will work closely with Desi Melodies to provide “multifaceted, global support and distribution for their audio catalogue and future releases with support from UMG partner labels around the world”.

Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO Universal Music India and South Asia said, “Music in India is evolving rapidly and now is an exciting time to see how artists, labels, innovators and entrepreneurs can adapt to this changing landscape. At Universal Music India, we strongly believe in creating music that can transcend regional popularity and local languages, to reach the widest possible audience worldwide.

“UMI continues to be committed to transforming the non-film music market, with the aim of giving Indian music and artists a global platform to find success. We share these beliefs with our new partners at Desi Melodies, who in recent years have revitalized Punjabi music, and have helped introduce it to new audiences around the world. We are excited to welcome Desi Melodies to the Universal Music Group family and look forward to many successes together in the future.”

Jaani, Managing Director, Desi Melodies said, “Desi Melodies has the legacy of great music, great songs and producing great artists. With the same spirit, we have collaborated with Universal Music to bring in some illustrious Punjabi hits to national and global audiences.

“Punjabi Music and its culture have intense vibrancy that is reflected in the artists and music coming out of the region today and is fast becoming a massive cultural choice for most younger consumers, even to Bollywood. We are quite optimistic that this collaboration will create a new benchmark in the Indian music industry.”

Punjabi-language music is becoming big business for the majors: Warner Music Group recently announced its own Punjabi music tie-up with Ziiki Media, which boasts an online following including 110 subchannels on YouTube that have attracted more than 15 million subscribers in India.

There are an estimated 125 million Punjabi speakers in India and Pakistan alone.

Together with composer and singer, B Praak, Desi Melodies has released multiple domestic hit singles including; ‘Filhall’; ‘Coka’; ‘Kuch Bhi ho jaaye’ and ‘Tod da e dil’.

In addition, the trio have created multiple hit records and projects for other labels and film soundtracks including; ‘Pachtaogey’; ‘Jinke Liye’; ‘Teri Mitti’; ‘Mann Bharya’; ‘Kya Baat Ay’; ‘Naah’; ‘Laare’; ‘Dance Like’ and ‘Maastaani’.

The Desi Melodies label has amassed more that 5.54 million subscribers on YouTube, with 1.6 billion plays on their own official channel.

The new agreement adds to Universal’s focus on India’s fast-growing non-film music market.

In January 2018, UMI launched VYRL Originals, India’s first dedicated non-film label, which has released more than 50 singles, from a roster of 20 artists including: Mithoon; Vishal Mishra; Arjun Kanungo; Akull Tandon; Sukriti & Prakriti Kakkar; Lisa Mishra; and Tanishk Bagchi.

This has expanded opportunities for non-film talent outside of Bollywood, which has traditionally dominated India’s commercial music and airplay charts.

Vinit Thakkar, COO, Universal Music India and South Asia said, “Desi Melodies represents the gold standard in Punjabi language music with a proven record of consistently delivering hit songs. With this partnership we are looking forward to working together, to elevate their music to continue to reach new audiences and levels of success.

“With VYRL Originals, Mass Appeal India and our other domestic labels, we have tried to expand the culture for original artist music and non-film to become a leading category for music in India. The potential for artist talent and creativity across all regions of India is huge and we are excited to support Desi Melodies in their efforts to bring Punjabi language music to the world and to further establish UMG as the true, authentic home for non-film music talent and success in the region.”Music Business Worldwide