Sony Music Unveils JV Deal With D36, Targets Global Promotional Initiatives for South Asian Artists

sony music d36 deal
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sony music d36 deal
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D36 CEO Abhi Kanakadandila (left) and general manager Abdullah Ahmad. Photo Credit: Taran Sodhi

Against the backdrop of continued music industry growth throughout South Asia, Sony Music Entertainment (SME) has unveiled a JV deal with Los Angeles-based label D36.

SME and three-year-old D36, which is said to provide “a platform to aspiring musicians from South Asia and its diaspora,” formally announced their tie-up today. Counting former Stem VP of strategy Abhi Kanakadandila as CEO, D36 has released works including a remix of Pakistan-based AUR’s much-streamed “Tu Hai Kahan.”

Though the major label and D36 opted against shedding light on their JV’s precise financial details, they did underscore a shared objective of capitalizing on SME’s infrastructure to help South Asian artists find new fans in the U.S. and different markets yet.

“This new partnership with Sony Music Entertainment allows us to meaningfully support artistry agnostic of geography and provide an infrastructure that can operate seamlessly across borders,” Kanakadandila elaborated in part. “The talent & fandom that exists across the several new waves of South Asian music is enormous. Our goal here is to lay the foundation for the same success that we’ve seen with music from other territories on the global landscape.”

Running with that aim, “the new venture” will retain Kanakadandila as CEO; D36 co-founder and general manager Abdullah Ahmad, who’s said to have had a hand in the career ascent of Young Thug, will remain aboard as well.

Meanwhile, SME India MD Vinit Thakkar in remarks of his own emphasized the quick-expanding nature of South Asia’s music space – including India, which was second only to the U.S. in on-demand streams last year.

“The South Asian music market is fast establishing itself as a powerhouse within the global music industry,” relayed the former Universal Music Group (UMG) exec Thakkar. “With our deep understanding of the local music landscape and our market strength, this partnership positions us to not only empower local artists but also bridge the gap between their exceptional talent and a worldwide audience.”

After kicking off 2024 by partnering with Pakistan’s Giraffe (which produces a number of domestically popular music programs), Warner Music Group (WMG) in mid-April officially debuted Warner Music South Asia. Headquartered in Dubai, that division is pursuing results particularly in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the mentioned Pakistan.

Not to be outdone, UMG in January acquired the catalog of U.K.-based South Asian label Oriental Star Agencies, before its Virgin Music Group unit in late March scored a pact with Jay Sean’s 3AM Entertainment.

Furthermore, the topic of market share in India came up during WMG’s latest earnings call, with CEO Robert Kyncl claiming to have the growth edge on SME and UMG in the nation of over 1.4 billion.

“In India, already the 14th-largest market and climbing fast,” he boasted, “we were again the only major to grow share in 2023.”