Earlier this year, Anara Publishing joined forces with the Indian office of their sister company Horus Music to present a series of Instagram Live events entitled “Music Publishing Simplified.” We know that for independent artists, especially in India, the world of music publishing isn’t easily accessible so that’s why we decided to put together this series of sessions to break down things in easy to digest chunks. If you missed the live sessions, we’re recapping each of them in a dedicated blog.
The Music Publishing Simplified sessions were hosted by Deepa Seshadri and Deborah Smith. Deepa currently works for Horus Music India on business development. Horus Music offers bespoke digital distribution services which allow musicians and labels to sell and release their content and was established in the U.K in 2006. Since 2016, Horus Music has had a presence in India. Debs is the director of Anara Publishing in the U.K. Debs started working at Horus Music in 2012, and then launched Anara Publishing with CEO Nick Dunn in 2017. Anara offers a whole suite of music publishing services to their roster, including admin, sync licensing, A&R and writing camps.
Joining us for this session to talk about the songwriting and A&R process was Tejas, a singer-songwriter from Bombay, India signed to Anara Publishing. Growing up in Dubai he was exposed to a variety of cultures, which has since influenced his signature brand of English Pop music. His music brings together a variety of genres including rock, funk, R&B, soul and electronica; and has been instrumental in shaping the landscape of independent English songwriting from the sub-continent.
Catch up on The Songwriting and A&R process with Tejas on Horus Music India’s IGTV and scroll down for an overview of the session.
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Tejas, how did you get started in the industry and has your songwriting process evolved over the years?
Tejas: I have been writing since I was a teenager, but I didn’t understand what to do with music and how it could be released. I went to university and got a regular job, but I always maintained an interest in music within my spare time. While I was working in advertising, some of my friends encouraged me to record an EP professionally. Shortly after this, I quit my job and took a risk to be a full-time singer/songwriter. I’m still a singer/songwriter now, so something must have worked! With regards to my songwriting process, I’ve become a little more educated in how to share my musical vision with others. I’ve pretty much started as a complete novice and learned along the way.
How did you both start working together?
Tejas: I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into as I didn’t really understand publishing and hadn’t been educated in this side of the business at the time.
Debs: I have to thank Malini who was working at Horus Music India at the time, she would send me loads of indie artists from India to check out and listen to. Tejas was one of them whose music really stuck out to me and honestly opened my eyes to the amount of English Pop music being made in India. When I first travelled over to Mumbai in 2017, I met with Tejas’ manager to talk about signing him and then a few days later met Tejas in the lobby of the hotel I was staying in. He turned up with his guitar and just started playing some of his songs, which looking back was hilarious, but it was the start of a great partnership.
Tejas: That was so funny! I had to prove that I was the same person that was on the record, but it was cool. Signing was one of the best decisions that I’ve made in the last few years.
Debs, we’ve spoken about copyright administration and sync in this series already, what else can a publisher do for songwriters?
Debs: The admin side of this business is very important, it’s the day-to-day tasks that we’re doing that’s ultimately going to bring in your revenue and income. The sync and creative side are of course more exciting, we look at different writing opportunities for our roster and try to arrange co-writes. For us, a large focus is placed on talent development and working with our artists on a case-by-case basis. We always ask them, where do they want to go as a songwriter?
Tejas, did you know much about publishing at the time?
Tejas: Not really, I’d heard of royalties, but I didn’t understand the differences between revenue streams. It’s important to learn about copyright, publishing, and sync, just to name a few. Having the knowledge will enable you to apply more thought and consideration into different situations within your career.
The great thing about working with Anara is that they’re coming from a country where things are more established publishing wise than they are in India. I’ll often go to Debs with questions and she’ll give me the right advice which is genuinely helpful.
How has this helped to shape how you’ve worked together?
Debs: Over the past few months our working relationship has developed a lot. We’ve also discussed what’s next and where Tejas wants to go as a songwriter (and in terms of collaboration). As a publisher, we’re always trying to bring in our network of contacts to provide more opportunities for our roster.
There’s a new album in the works, how have you approached that especially during the pandemic?
Tejas: We’d thankfully tracked a lot of the album pre-pandemic, but there were still things like vocals that needed to be recorded at home during the lockdown. I was lucky in that my drummer Jehangir Jehangir (JJ) was also producing the album and is one of the founders of Island City Studios where the album was being recorded. This helped in a lot of ways, but a lot of the process was still done on zoom where JJ would be controlling the desk in the studio from his computer at home. That was an experience for sure! The album is a really ambitious project so this has just been a temporary fix but I couldn’t have done without JJ and team.
How do you go about finding the right producer to work with?
Tejas: Honestly speaking, I didn’t used to collaborate, I just tried to execute my vision on my own. You must find somebody you completely trust and are aligned with, it’s important to be on the same level. I still do a lot myself, including co-producing all my albums, but it’s great to have other people to support you along the way. My best work is yet to come.
With Tejas being an Indian artist performing in English, as a publisher are you looking to target more of a global audience with his music?
Debs: Definitely! The thing that excited me the most is to be able to show people outside of India the amazing work that Tejas is doing. His music translates around the world, and it’s popular in the UK and US. We’re aiming for global domination!
The pandemic in some ways has created more opportunities for collaborations remotely, what are some of the things that Anara has done during this time to increase these opportunities for your roster?
Debs: Anara arranged a few online writing camps during the pandemic, this gave the roster an opportunity to collaborate and it also gave our writers the chance to work with other creatives from different countries. At one point we had people working across four different time zones! We aimed to get them working on material that can go somewhere and have a future. All the tracks that we have had from the writing camp have been so good and were actively pitching them to briefs and upcoming projects. To add to this, it’s been nice to see the roster connecting with each other. We have more of these camps planned throughout the year, and it’s shown us what we can do by adapting and making the most of online resources.
Tejas, what advice would you have for songwriters/artists starting out?
Tejas: The number one piece of advice I always give is learn photoshop! But in the context of this I guess it depends what stage you’re at in your career, for example if you’re new to the scene or further on down the line. Try and learn everything you can about publishing. As you start your career, you realise that if you’re going to take music seriously as an artist and be recognised by the industry, you need to upskill and be serious about what you do! Having this knowledge can offer an alternative income stream, it’s worth noting that live gigs don’t have to be the only source of income!
Do you start with writing the lyrics or music?
Tejas: I write both together. In general, I just trust my body and go with what feels right. From there, I try and shape the chorus, then everything else seems to find its way and make sense.
What is the right marketing strategy to amplify a release?
Tejas: You need to see marketing as a formula, as a manufactured process. They say that an “overnight success” has actually been 10 years in the making! Of course, the music needs to be good quality, but people love a good story. Think about what makes you stand out as an artist, what sets you apart from all the other hundreds of submissions? Once you’ve got your strategy down, stay consistent.
How does Anara Publishing discover artists?
Usually, we discover artists from recommendations in the industry, or we have a contact form where people can reach out to us directly. We listen to everything that comes through the website. If you need more information, read our submission guidelines. When you’re ready, Anara Publishing accepts submissions via our contact page. Please make sure to send streaming links only and remember, first impressions count!