New York-headquartered Reservoir has made a noteworthy move in India, signing multi-platinum rapper DIVINE – who has amassed over a billion streams across audio and video platforms – to a worldwide publishing deal.
The deal includes global rights to his catalog, plus future works.
In addition, Reservoir has struck a joint venture with DIVINE’s Gully Gang Entertainment, the umbrella company which houses the artist’s label Gully Gang Records, to sign and develop new songwriting talent.
Reservoir called the JV “the first deal of its kind for India”, adding that it “reaffirms our commitment to supporting creators in emerging markets”.
Last year, DIVINE signed a global record deal with Universal Music Group and Mass Appeal, with the latter company – co-owned by rap legend Nas – launching in India in tandem with UMG.
At the time, Universal said that Mass Appeal India, with DIVINE’s signing as its centerpiece, would become “an innovative new label dedicated to amplifying India’s burgeoning hip-hop culture on a global scale”.
In the case of DIVINE, Mass Appeal is now joined in this mission by Reservoir.
“I’m super elated to partner with Reservoir who aspire to leverage my desi brand of hip-hop amongst global tastemakers.”
Following several successful singles including “Yeh Mera Bombay,” “Kohinoor,” “Jungli Sher,” “Kaam 25,” and his breakthrough track “Meri Gully Mein,” DIVINE released his definitive debut album, Kohinoor, in 2019, via Mass Appeal India.
As the follow-up to Kohinoor, inspired by the global pandemic, DIVINE recently released an emotionally driven hip-hop and rap compilation album titled SHUTDOWN, also on Mass Appeal India.
DIVINE’s story influenced Bollywood director Zoya Akhtar, to create the award-winning blockbuster hit musical drama Gully Boy, which featured DIVINE on five tracks of the soundtrack, including the popular “Apna Time Ayega.”
“2020 is all about manifestations and taking things a few notches higher,” said DIVINE. “I’m super elated to partner with Reservoir who aspire to leverage my desi brand of hip-hop amongst global tastemakers. It’s time that Indian hip hop and rap is no longer confined to homegrown parameters but assumes the form of a world phenomenon!”
“We look forward to making history together, signing the next generation of Asian hip-hop talent with Gully Gang.”
Spek, Reservoir’s EVP of International & Emerging Markets, added, “In a market historically dominated by Bollywood, what DIVINE has done to bring hip-hop into the mainstream is really unprecedented in India. It’s a remarkable story and we look forward to making history together, signing the next generation of Asian hip-hop talent with Gully Gang.”
Chaitanya Kataria, Co-Founder, Gully Gang Entertainment further commented, “We’re extremely pleased to have Reservoir as a partner for our joint venture and for them to represent DIVINE’s publishing interests. Reservoir’s growth in an extremely competitive market has been tremendous and we see a lot of synergy and parallels with what we’re building here at Gully Gang Entertainment.”
“We believe in the music DIVINE is making and the movement he has created,” added Rell Lafargue, Reservoir President and COO. “This new partnership reaffirms our commitment to supporting creators in emerging markets and helping them reach new fans across the globe, and we’re proud to be kicking things off in India with DIVINE.”
DIVINE is expected to release music later this year and has already been working with other Reservoir roster talent.
Spek added, “We are looking forward to being able to tee up collaborations to create unique music for DIVINE and Gully Gang. It’s an exciting time for Indian hip-hop as they cross over into global markets to the diaspora and beyond.”
DIVINE and Gully Gang Entertainment were advised by music & entertainment rights expert Priyanka Khimani in the publishing deal and joint venture with Reservoir, respectively.Music Business Worldwide