Warner Music Group is continuing its global expansion with the launch of a new affiliate in India.
Warner Music India will be headed up by music executive Jay Mehta, who will take on the managing director role in April. Mehta joins from Sony Music India, where he served as director of digital business; prior to that, he held roles at Reliance Broadcast Network and telecom company UNINOT.
In his new role based in Mumbai, Mehta will also cover the remaining markets in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC): Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He will report to Alfonso Perez-Soto, Warner Music Group executive vp, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and India.
“Music is a way of life here in India, a valuable pillar of our culture,” Mehta said. “There’s so much talent hungry for opportunity, and I’m looking forward to signing and serving a wide diversity of local artistry. India’s growing music audience will also benefit from this move, as we not only amplify our new rising stars, but Warner’s global superstars as well.”
Added Perez-Soto: “With a dynamic and vibrant music scene, India is a natural place for Warner to grow presence. It’s a market that’s increasingly embracing international repertoire, as well as developing its own music scene beyond the traditional dominance of Bollywood. Jay is a brilliant creative and commercial leader and we all look forward to supporting him and his team as he spearheads our efforts in this growing region.”
India is the world’s 15th largest music market, according to the IFPI, with a population of more than 1.3 billion people. Streaming revenue represented 69.7% of India’s total music market in 2018, the IFPI also reports.
Prior to launching Warner Music India, Warner Music titles were distributed in the country by Sony Music. With the opening of the new affiliate, Sony has lost WMG artists Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, two of the most popular international acts there.
Notably, Warner Music and Spotify have been at odds in India, with the two failing to reach a licensing deal in the country ahead of the streaming service’s launch there last February. The standoff eased somewhat this past January, however, when Spotify signed a multi-territory licensing deal, including India, with WMG’s publishing company Warner Chappell Music — an agreement many industry insiders believe paved the way for a future deal with the label.
Within the past year, Warner Music Group has also opened new offices in Turkey and Peru, acquired labels including Finland’s Monsp and Slovakia’s Forza, and announced a partnership with Nigerian independent record label Chocolate City.
Additional reporting by Amit Gurbaxani.