Universal and Qyuki back Mumbai dance and music Dharavi Project

Universal Music Group India (UMGI) is to team up with Indian creative networking, design and production studio Qyuki on an ambitious social improvement project in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum area located in Mumbai.

Combining Universal’s musical clout with Qyuki’s digital and terrestrial distribution channels, The Dharavi Project: Music For Social Good will fund the expansion of a local music and dance school, established by Qyuki in March 2014.

UMGI is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Universal Music Group, and owns a comprehensive Indian catalogue comprising songs from classic Hindi and regional movies, Hindipop, bhangra, ghazals and devotional songs, as well as a vast roster of Indian artists and the nation’s second largest Indian film catalogue.

Qyuki was co-founded by Academy Award-winning director Shekhar Kapur; musician and composer AR Rahman; and former managing director (digital) at Disney India, Samir Bangara. It specialises in the creation of a fanbase for artists through the production and distribution of content, establishing intellectual properties, and democratising and monetising creativity. YouTube stars in its network include Shraddha Sharma, Gaurav Dagaonkar and Siddharth Slathia.

Speaking to IAM, Universal’s managing director for South Asia, Devraj Sanyal, said an undisclosed but substantial figure will go towards the project. This will provide the funding to cover basic infrastructure, rent, utilities and equipment for the students of the school. The music company will also introduce professional singers, choreographers, musicians and producers to the students.

Participants will have access to studio floors, cameras, lights, editing suites, sound studios and a team of filmmakers, sound engineers and editors. Qyuki will offer creative support from concept to delivery.

‘These kids normally have no choice but to turn to crime,’ explained Sanyal. ‘What better story than to instead turn them into the next generation of superstars, and to create music for social good?’

The school will initially welcome 30 students, but its dramatic plans for expansion should see the institution catering for over 300 pupils after the first year, and thousands of young people during its planned lifespan.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, Max Hole, said: ‘Whether we produce stars out of the programme or simply a lifelong love of music, we will have succeeded in giving them a start along the path to discovery of this beautiful form of expression.’

Composer and Qyuki co-founder, AR Rahman, added: ‘I’m glad that this initiative we started last year is maturing into a platform that provides underprivileged children a more level playing field and more equal opportunities to their domestic and international peers.’

In December 2014, Qyuki announced an exclusive India network alliance with Fullscreen Inc, one of the largest global Multi Channel Networks, majority owned by Chernin Media and AT&T.