Indian Rapper Badshah Signs Global Deal With Universal Music Group

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MUMBAI — Indian hip-hop star Badshah has moved majors.

After six years with Sony Music, the Hindi, Punjabi and Haryanvi rapper and singer has inked a global agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG), the label announced today. Under the multi-year deal, Badshah, 36, will partner exclusively with UMG across all elements of his career, including future recordings, music publishing rights for non-film compositions, brand licensing and partnerships, according to a press release.

Badshah, whose real name is Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia, is India’s most well-known hip-hop artist, with a slate of Bollywood and non-film chart toppers in his catalog. According to UMG, his tracks and videos have generated over 15 billion streams, and he has 15 songs with more than 200 million views on YouTube.

Some of his biggest hits include the breakthrough release “DJ Waley Babu” (Sony Music, 2015), Hindi film cuts “Kala Chashma” from Baar Baar Dekho (Zee Music Company, 2016) and “Garmi” from Street Dancer 3D (T-Series, 2020), and “Genda Phool” (Sony Music, 2020), which was the most-viewed music video on YouTube in India last year.

His most recent smash “Paani Paani,” released on Saregama — for which one popular Indian Instagram account claimed the label paid him Rs3 crore ($400,000) — spent three weeks atop YouTube’s Global Top Music Videos chart in June and July. He was the top songwriter in the world on YouTube for all of 2020, according to music rights data platform Blokur. (Saregema declined to comment on the fee.)

The achievement was a sort of redemption for the rapper who in July 2019 drew controversy when he claimed that the music video for his song “Paagal” had broken the record for the most YouTube views in 24 hours. After fans of BTS, whose “Boy With Luv” held the record at the time, alleged that most of those plays were fake, Badshah posted an Instagram story stating that he employed the standard industry practice of using “paid promotions” to juice his view count.

YouTube did not verify Badshah’s claim. Following Billboard’s story outlining how “Paagal” had not appeared on their official charts, the video streaming giant issued a clarification that “paid advertising views” were no longer included in the calculation of their charts and 24-hour debut records.

Badshah’s new deal, which will be spearheaded by Universal Music India, is his most-concerted effort yet to cross over internationally. Subsequent releases will be issued on the major’s partner labels such as Capitol Records in the U.S. and EMI in the U.K. and will include collaborations “with some of the world’s most influential and popular artists,” UMG says.

“I want to make music for everybody and bring the vibrance of India to the world with my music and I am happy to partner with the UMI team that shares the same agenda of global representation,” Badshah says in the press release.

The UMG agreement covers his non-film output, an Indian industry term that’s synonymous with commercially oriented pop music. In recent years, UMG has been focused on boosting the growth of non-film music in India, by “launching labels and signing artists that reinforce the importance of original artist culture, and reach audiences beyond traditional Bollywood music,” says Adam Granite, UMG’s executive VP of market development.

“Welcoming Badshah to UMG is the natural next step in our ambitious plan to help introduce Indian music to the world, which like reggaeton and K-pop in recent years, has the opportunity to inspire new generations of music fans everywhere,” the exec says.

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