×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Music label aims to put pop in India

Desi Hits targets listeners at home and abroad

In India, most pop music comes from the West. But Desi Hits, launched five years ago by Anjula Acharia-Bath and backed by Jimmy Iovine, wants to change that.

With more than a billion people in India — many under 30 — and millions more among the Indian diaspora overseas, the music shingle feels it has a built-in audience, not only locally, but in the West as well, for its plan to develop Indian pop acts that can have global success.

Desi (a Hindi word meaning native), acts as a consultant to Western acts wanting to tour India, even as it plans the crossover careers of local stars. It brought Lady Gaga to Mumbai and other cities (“Gaga was very passionate about India,” Acharia-Bath says) and is promoting Bollywood thesp Priyanka Chopra’s singing career abroad.

Chopra has a global recording deal with Universal Music Group under the Desi Hits Universal label, with the aim to release a single “hopefully by summer,” Chopra says, though she adds that timing is flexible.

The company has also released a Pussycat Dolls remix of A.R. Rahman’s “Jai ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” and arranged for Bollywood composer Sonu Nigam to collaborate with Britney Spears on a remix of “I Wanna Go” as well as on a U.S. tour together.

“Desi Hits grew out of my love for Western music, pop and Bollywood,” Acharia-Bath says. “When we started, no one would talk to us, not even desis.”

But Interscope’s Iovine, a strategic investor, says he signed on the minute he met Acharia-Bath and heard her pitch. “She told me what her idea was,” Iovine says. “I thought it was an incredibly creative platform and one that doesn’t exist.”

Emanuel Nunez, who as a CAA agent helped arrange the DreamWorks-Reliance deal, acts as adviser to Desi Hits, “a friend of the court,” as he describes himself. Nunez sees great potential for Westerners to make money in the Indian market, and says that when everyone was flocking to China, he decided to check out one of the other emerging nations with a hot economy.

“Every time I went to India, I heard of Desi Hits and Anjula,” Nunez says. “We became friends and started working together, complementary, overlapping in entertainment. I’m film and film driven, she’s music.”

Pointing to such stars as “Slumdog’s” Anil Kapoor, who went from a recurring role on the last season of “24” to “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” Nunez says Indian talent has the ability to cross over, and adds that the challenge is to present that talent to the West in the most effective package.

Film music is pervasive on the Subcontinent, so the best route for developing crossover success is via Bollywood.

Leaving no stone unturned, Desi Hits has a presence online, mobile and on TV via pacts with such nets as UTV in India.

“We’ve got to crack the code musically,” Iovine says, “which we are beginning to do.”

More Music

  • Endeavor Sued Over Idaho Country Music

    Endeavor Sued Over Idaho Country Music Festival

    A former county official in rural Idaho sued Endeavor on Wednesday, alleging she is owed more than $190,000 in unpaid loans arising from a troubled country music festival. According to her complaint, Bonnie Layton was the economic development director for Elmore County, Idaho, when she came in contact with the organizers of the Mountain Home [...]

  • 2019 Variety Predictions

    2019 Predictions: What's in Store for Film, TV and Music Next Year?

    It would be hard to top the drama of 2018. From media mega-mergers to the rise of Time’s Up, it was a year that had more than its fair share of twists and turns. Leslie Moonves resigned in disgrace, AT&T snapped up Time Warner, Disney inched closer to subsuming Fox and “Black Panther” shattered box [...]

  • Tencent Music Raises $1.1 Billion for

    Tencent Music Raises $1.1 Billion for IPO, Much Less Than Expected

    China-based music streaming company Tencent Music Entertainment Group said it raised nearly $1.1 billion in its U.S. initial public offering, according to Reuters. Earlier this year, the company was expected to be valued at as much as $30 billion and raise $4 billion for its IPO, but those estimates were slashed in September. he IPO [...]

  • Justin Tranter and Katie Vinten Partner

    Justin Tranter and Katie Vinten Partner With Warner Bros. for New Label

    As previously reported, hit songwriter Justin Tranter and Warner/Chappell Publishing’s Katie Vinten are launching a new label in partnership with Warner Bros. Records, the company announced officially today. In her new role, Vinten, most recently the company’s co-head of A&R, will also serve as an A&R Consultant to Warner Bros. Records and will continue with [...]

  • Ella Mai

    Ella Mai Signs Worldwide Deal With Sony/ATV Music Publishing

    Singer Ella Mai, who is enjoying a worldwide smash with her song “Boo’d Up” and was nominated for two Grammy Awards last week, has signed a worldwide deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been streamed more than 650 million times in the U.S. [...]

  • Phylicia Fant Shawn Holiday

    Shawn Holiday, Phylicia Fant Named Columbia Records' Co-Heads of Urban (EXCLUSIVE)

    Columbia Records has named Shawn Holiday and Phylicia Fant Co-heads of Urban Music, it was announced today by the label’s chairman and CEO, Ron Perry. The two will each hold the title of Co-head of Urban Music. Previously, Holiday was Senior Vice President of Urban A&R for Columbia, while Fant joins Columbia from Warner Bros. Records, [...]

  • BTS puma collaboration basket sneakers shop

    BTS Escape Injury After Tour Bus Accident in Taiwan

    Korean boyband BTS have escaped injury after a collision that involved three of their tour buses, according to news reports. The superstar pop band were on board the buses after having performed a gig at the Taoyuan Baseball Stadium in Taiwan. At least seven vehicles were involved, according to local reports, but no one was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content