Vineet Singh Hukmani, the NCR-based artist and founder-cum-former chief of Radio One, spoke about his new single Jab The World topping international radio charts, and the importance of radio in the era of music streaming platforms.
Q. Were there any particular instances in the news which inspired the new track?
A. I was inspired by the regular machinations of life where people tend to look at a current issue and perhaps not realise that the real problems are much larger. The pandemic has forced you to look at the current situation and the future all at once. So when the vaccine came, I was filled with optimism and it made me dream larger: What if there was a vaccine that cured ‘hate’ and when that vaccine was administered, people became biologically incapable of hate? They would dance together, laugh together. ‘Jab The World’ was born out of this.
Q. What were the biggest influences on the music of ‘Jab The World’?
A. Musically, it has a combination of 1980s rock like Van Halen but also current electronic sounds like Imagine Dragons. Vocally, I chose to sing with the positive angst of Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth. Lyrically, it is simply a dream of all the things that can happen if the vaccine that cured hate came to being. Overall, it is a fun dance-rock song!
Q. Your singles have topped international radio charts. Is there a success mantra behind that? What does it take to have a “global” sound?
A. I have had five singles top the independent world radio charts in 2020 and the last one that was number 1 on both the European and World Radio charts in February 2021 was ‘Dreamin’ Out Loud’. I was the only Asian act to achieve this feat this year. Apart from creating songs that have ‘repeat listening value’ it is very important to ‘create to’ a genre format that is followed by radio stations worldwide. So the radio segments you can ‘create to’ are Pop Top 40, Adult Contemporary, Hip Hop, R&B, Rock, Country, etc. My agent, Martin Langford, helped me understand this better to achieve commercial growth worldwide. You have to create a ‘commercial segment plan’ and radio is critical for that plan! At a personal level, every musician needs a good producer/vocal coach to ensure the song has the required global quality and segment/genre focus! ‘Jab The World’ is my first attempt to address the mainstream rock charts and try and move my music a notch higher, above the ‘independent music’ space.
Q. Are there any particular lessons about music-making and the music industry which you learnt as the CEO of Radio One?
A. Being the founder and CEO of India’s only international radio network, 94.3 Radio One, which I ran for 13 years, and having been born abroad where I was exposed to global radio right from childhood, I learnt very early that radio is a ‘leader music creating opportunity’ and not a ‘follower’ of another industry, like how radio follows Bollywood in India! I also learnt that radio worldwide is still the primary medium for the ‘discovery’ of new music, with 9 billion listeners cumulatively listening to new songs every Friday. Streaming services put together reach 50-60 million listeners every week and play the most important function of ‘easy digital access to music’. These work in tandem. Radio and music in India is a USD 0.27 billion industry as it relies largely on Bollywood. However, globally, it is a USD 50 billion industry that does not depend on the film industry.
Q. Where do you see the medium of radio in the future?
A. There is something in the basic global construct of terrestrial FM, satellite, internet radio and that is shared live listenership. The DJ/RJ can bind large communities together just by endorsing a new song well! This makes radio excel at the exponential discovery of new music.