Non-film music game changers in india-independent record labels


Tanya Sujan | BeatCurry Team


A recent shift in the Indian music industry can be witnessed by the exponential growth of non-film and underground music in India, and the audience for such forms of music has grown exponentially ever since the global pandemic. The major force behind this shift is the emergence of independent record labels which have facilitated newer artists to produce and distribute their music at ease. These record labels are not affiliated, in terms of management and funding, with any major record labels, such as Sony and T-Series, and have been giving new music and talent the much deserving spotlight. Let’s take a closer look into it.


It has been a common strategy among all the new independent labels to be an all-encompassing venture, as the revenue only from production or management doesn’t provide a sustainable economic model to the company. This is beneficial for the artists as well since they are managed by the same people who produce and promote their music.


Gully Gang Records

The recent rise of the hip-hop and rap scene in India is greatly owed to the role played by independent record labels such as Gully Gang Records, launched by hip-hop artist and rapper DIVINE in 2019, which not only centres around creating and promoting desi hip-hop talent of the country but also managing these upcoming musicians and produce 360-degree content.



Azadi Records

Another such record label supporting the Independent music movement is the Delhi-based Azadi Records. Established in 2017, the label seeks to provide a platform for South Asian artists to release forward-thinking, conscious and critically engaging music content towards striking and pressing issues in today’s time. Prabh Deep, Seedhe Maut, Ahmer, Tienas, Swadesi are among the many artists the label manages.



IncInk Records

Launched by actor, Ranveer Singh and Navzar Iranee, a filmmaker and music evangelist, IncInk Records is an independent music company formed by artists, for art. IncInk caters to the musicians, poets, painters, and filmmakers and aims to create an infrastructure where artists from different mediums can collaborate without restrictions.



Labels such as Consolidate, ennui.BOMB, Pagal Haina, BGBNG Records, Qilla Records, Kadak Apple Records et cetera are among the well known names in the independent record label space.


Recently, even some of the big names of the music industry have set afoot in this arena by launching their own independent labels. Let’s take a look.



The Grammy Award and two-time Oscar winner, A.R. Rahman announced Maajja, his latest music initiative, a technology-enabled label alternative which will help independent musicians release and distribute music. With traditional labels, artists forgo their master rights. However, Maajja will not own the rights to the music the artists make under its banner. It will allow musicians to retain creative control and copyrights to their music. That is the biggest difference it wants to make for new voices in the South Asian independent music scene. Maajja is the brainchild of Canadian entrepreneurs Noel Kirthiraj, Sen Sachi, Prasana Balachandra, along with the acclaimed music director himself.



Merchant Records

The brother duo Salim-Sulaiman launched their independent label Merchant Records in mid-2020 and have produced some excellently received albums and singles. Their album, Bhoomi 2020, has also brought together some of the most experienced musicians, singers, and instrumentalists of the industry while many new faces were given a platform as well. Having set a record breaking 18 fully produced music videos in the year 2020, the label aims to produce and release a diverse repertoire of music in collaboration with some of the finest artists and also give young musicians, talented composers, and upcoming artists a platform to showcase their talent.



AT Azaad

The famous singer and composer, Amit Trivedi, launched his record label AT Azaad, beautifully revisiting the traditional, independent and fusion route, not only supporting newer artists but also to compose the sort of music inside him that he wishes to bring out and share with his listeners.



VB Music, launched by Vishal Bharadwaj, along with his supremely talented wife Rekha Bharadwaj, Namaste Records, led by Udit Narayan and Aditya Narayan and TM Music Label launched by the head of TM Talent Management-Tarsame Mittal, one of India’s top artist companies and others are some of the music labels new in the music label radar.


Consensus: These labels have so far been successful in creating a loyal audience and managed to claim their space in this cutthroat industry. This has also enabled the artists to function without the creative constraints of the film industry and reach a wider audience with the label push. While Bollywood music gets the greater share of the pie in the Indian music scene-both in terms of money and audience, these nouveau labels are a breath of fresh air and a hope that art for art’s sake will not be eroding away anytime soon.


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