UMG Buys Majority Stake in Indian Talent Company That Manages Rapper Badshah

SINGAPORE – Universal Music Group has acquired a majority stake in TM Ventures, an Indian entertainment and talent company that manages some of Bollywood’s music stars and most-streamed artists, including hip-hop sensation Badshah.

TM Ventures, run by founder Tarsame Mittal and partners Alaap Gosher and Saurabh Abbi, runs businesses that encompass artist management (TM Talent Management), consultancy (Entertainment Consultant), music labels (TM Music, ii Music, Desi Records, Oriyon Music and Zubeen Garg Music), influencer marketing (Barcode Entertainment) and events and IPs (Create & Collab).

The UMG deal covers TM Talent Management, Entertainment Consultant and Create & Collab. TM Talent Management’s roster of over two-dozen acts features Bollywood stars, including the most streamed artist on Spotify in India, Arijit Singh; Badshah, and composers Amit Trivedi and Vishal Bhardwaj

Create & Collab’s flagship intellectual properties are All About Music, the Indian music industry’s largest B2B conference that was attended by over 2,000 people last week, and the Hindi film music festival Bollywood Music Project, which went on hiatus owing to the pandemic. It also runs the digital music business publication MusicPlus.

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Universal India President Devraj Sanyal, managing director/CEO of Universal Music in India and South Asia, announced the acquisition at the All That Matters business conference on Tuesday, where UMG also unveiled a new Malaysian label, Masyhur, which is dedicated to “spiritual music celebrating Islamic faith.”

The TM Ventures deal, which the companies described as a strategic partnership, gives UMG an indirect presence in the Bollywood market after the major got out of the business of acquiring pricey Hindi film soundtracks about a decade ago. It also gives TM Ventures a deeper reach into India’s growing commercial pop or “non-film” segment, which UMG has focused on in recent years along with hip-hop. 

“India is ready for the global stage,” Mittal tells Billboard. “Independent music is finally doing well. We have always been a very Bollywood-centric artist [management] company. We want to change that. We want to be a part of the bigger picture.”

Speaking in Singapore, Adam Granite, UMG’s CEO of Africa, Middle East and Asia, noted that with deals like the TM Ventures partnership, Universal Music “can now manage over 120 artists” in Southeast Asia alone.

Lately, UMG has pushed harder into India, the 17th-ranked music market, with $219 million in revenue in 2021, by supporting a collaboration between Badshah and J Balvin, “Voodoo,” with the most extensive marketing campaign for any of its Indian releases. 

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While the track has not cracked Billboard’s international charts, it was a priority release for the label, with UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge touting Badshah and “Desi Pop” in an earnings call earlier this year. 

In unveiling the new Malaysian label on Tuesday, Universal Music Malaysia also announced a talent search initiative through Masyhur known as Masyhur Redefined in collaboration with Faithful Music. 

The web series, to debut next year, will feature Faizal Tahir as the main celebrity judge alongside other celebrities who will serve as mentors to young Malaysians who wish to pursue a career in the music industry, says Universal Music Malaysia’s Managing Director Kim Lim. Participating contestants will undergo workshops and weekly challenges to test their creative skills “in producing original masterpieces, writing and composing songs, as well as stage performances,” Lim says. 

Earlier this summer, Masyhur released a single, “Casablanca,” performed by Nuha Bahrin and Naufal Azrin, which has quickly become a domestic hit in Malaysia. The official music video on Masyhur’s YouTube channel has reached 20 million views and been streamed more than 16 million times on Spotify. On TikTok, the views for the #casablancachallenge have reached 20.6 million views as of early Tuesday.  

Granite said that since 2019, when UMG opened a Southeast Asia hub in Singapore, the major label has launched more than 20 labels across the region and signed more than 90 new artists.