India’s Manu Kaushish features in the Billboard International Power Players List 2022

Billboard’s annual International Power Players List, which recognises the contribution of music industry leaders and international music executives from across the globe, saw Manu Kaushish, President, Create Music Group India (“Create”), who is based in San Francisco, USA, featured in this prestigious 2022 list for his valuable contribution towards the digital music industry in India and overseas.

Speaking on the accolade received, Kaushish said: “I am truly honoured to be featured in a prestigious industry platform like Billboard. As a company, we have grown exponentially over the last two years with our Indian business, serving over 130 billion views in 2021. I’m looking forward to bringing more content and collaborations from India to our audience as well as building towards becoming a leader in the

Manu Kaushish

Indian content for Web3 and NFTs.”

This recognition in Billboard’s International Power Players List is a testament of the path-breaking industry-leading moves that Create has been making since its inception. Established in 2015, Create Music Group is a data-driven media and technology company. In 2016, Create Music Group announced the acquisition of distributor Label Engine, which worked with clients such as Insomniac Records and 6ix9ine. In September 2018, Create Music Group announced that it had launched a music publishing operation to which it had signed distribution client 6ix9ine. In January 2019, Create Music Group began providing its rights management and distribution clients with daily estimated royalty data from streaming services such as YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify and, in 2020, Create Music Group was named #2 on the INC 5000 list of the Fastest Growing Companies in the US.

Create also works with the world’s more identifiable artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Tory Lanez, Marshmello, and The Chainsmokers, and has acquired a group of social media channels, including: Flighthouse, which remains an influential social media company and is the #1 channel on TikTok; The Nations network of influencer channels; and a large number of top Instagram channels which, combined, comprise an audience in excess of 400 million followers.

Kaushish has been an industry veteran, initially in India and, then, globally and holds more than two decades of experience in the digital content monetization and distribution space. He has been credited for bringing music from India into the digital world by entering into the first major digital monetization deal for Indian content on RealNetworks, one of the first music streaming services. Subsequently, he built companies that brought music from India to digital platforms, including Apple iTunes; entered into one of the first monetized Bollywood channels on YouTube; and the first Bollywood SVOD Channel on US Cable. He has built and sold three media companies and has been an investor and advisor in the technology, media, and private equity space.

Create Music Group’s inroads into India occurred in or around November last year when the US-based music and media company acquired Mumbai-based Nirvana Digital, one of the largest YouTube Enterprise partners in India. Nirvana Digital then had a subscriber base in excess of 200 million.

At that time, Create announced that this was the first of a planned $50 million investment that the company was making in India and in Asia across the next several years.

Nirvana Digital provides monetization, distribution, and rights management services to artists, labels, films, television, and other content owners, including one of the largest spiritual organizations in the world, The Art Of Living, in addition to Rap/Hip Hop superstar Bohemia, and regional music companies such as Vats Records and Team Films.

As part of the acquisition, Nirvana Digital co-founders Manu Kaushish and Pinakin Thakkar were named President, Create Music Group India and Chief Operating Officer, Create Music Group India, respectively.

Meanwhile, Kaushish’s Nirvana Digital partner, Pinakin Thakkar, who is based in Mumbai, has worked in the advertising and technology space for over 15 years, including at companies such as Percept Holdings and at Ogilvy and Mather, and has since built strong connections in the media industry in India.

Create Founder and CEO, Jonathan Strauss, said: “India is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting growth territories in the global music and media market.

“We’ve been looking for the right way to build our business in India for some time now and, after being introduced to Nirvana Digital’s founders and seeing the parallels between our two companies, we felt the right move was to acquire them and supercharge our entry into India with one of its most forward-thinking new media companies.”

It is only a matter of time before Billboard’s annual International Power Players List, which recognises the contribution of music industry leaders and international music executives from across the globe, gains further representation from India as the country returns to top gear with the media and industry opening itself to pre-pandemic times.

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