Philosophy

Producing pop music albums in India that are as popular as the big Bollywood soundtracks of the day is a rare ability, even now. When Shashi Gopal founded the independent music company Magnasound in 1989, he not only opened up an alternative dialogue for popular music in India but also, with his gift for spotting talent, created a method for applying that dialogue to so many artistes that it became his legacy.

If Shashi has to sell a song – that is, ask people to pay good money for it – he believes people should understand and love what they’re buying. Without that, what reason do they have to buy it? Knowing what popular music is, and what will appeal to whom, Shashi says, involves a constant conversation among the people who matter, he says; a conversation that refers constantly to society, to its issues and problems.

So what does ‘pop’ mean? When we say ‘pop’ we mean recordings that give one complete freedom to express oneself. It’s not scripted to a story, like a Bollywood soundtrack, but scripted to life and experience of the artist him or herself.

Shashi has absolutely no doubt in his mind that there was – and remains – a huge market for pop music in India, if there are committed and passionate facilitators who know how to navigate the spaces between artists, music and society.

For more than a decade, Magnasound made music that bridged Indian culture from north to south, and that helped to heal wounds across scarred borders. The Colonial Cousins reunited India and Pakistan in song; Daler Mehndi and Adnan Sami were loved by people of all economic stratas; artistes like Alisha Chinai and Nazia Hassan inspired and empowered a new generation of women to pursue careers as professional pop artists. These themes are no less relevant today than they were then.

After being in the music business for four decades and surviving four changes in formats – from vinyl records to cassettes, compact discs to digital – Shashi Gopal decided in 2003 that the time had come to take a sabbatical, to step back and gain some fresh perspective on the industry and the technological changes that were not just affecting music distribution, but actually creating an entirely new ecosystem for the music business.

Instead of running blinding into a new digital-age business model, Shashi has spent the last ten years watching, studying, understanding and analysing the new phenomena driving production, distribution and consumption of music around the world. With a wealth of new knowledge, new experience and new ideas under his belt, Shashi is ready to return to the industry and to start contributing again.

Shashi Gopal’s Hit Formula is a philosophy that can be summed up in 5 parts:

1. Nurture an artist and his/her repertoire, also known as A&R.

2. Be ruthless about decisions that add value or quality.

3. Market the product through all levels of society.

4. Be a person of the people.

5. Persevere as an entrepreneur through changing times and technology.

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Timeline

1 Sep 1952

Born

1973

Graduation

B.A. Economics, Hindu College, Delhi University.
1 Oct 1973

Joins HMV Records - Sales Trainee

1976

Joins Exports Division

Head of Sales for West Asia and East & West Africa.
1978

Family

Marries Kalpana Kher.
1980

HMV International

Head of International Music Division.
10 Feb 1981

Family

Son Aditya born.
1982

Head of Branch: Madras

Dealt with singers, lyricists, composers and producers from the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
1983

Head of Branch: Bombay

Closely worked closely with the biggest names in Bollywood.
19 Feb 1984

Family

Daughter Gayatri born.
1984

Head Of HMV

Chosen by the board of directors of HMV to head HMV - India's proposed New York Branch.
1984

HMV sold to RPG Group; Shashi resigns post

Jan 1985

Beginning of maganasound

Starts Magnasound as a proprietor.
Mar 1985

Sign India's top Vocalist - Pandit Jasraj

Records album of Devotional songs performed by one of India's top Vocalists - Pandit Jasraj.
3 Jul 1985

Approval of Magnasound India Pvt. Ltd.

Receives name approval of Magnasound India Pvt. Ltd. from registrar of companies, Bombay.
20 Aug 1986

Licensing agreement with Warner Music, USA

Magnasound applies to the Reserve Bank of India for approval of its licensing agreement with Warner Music, USA.
7 Oct 1986

Magnasound India pvt. Ltd. incorporated

1987

Head of CBS Records India

Allowed by management to negotiate Warner Music licence through Magnasound.
1987

Signs Subhash Ghai's film, Uttar Dakshin

Signed Subhash Ghai's film, ‘Uttar Dakshin’ - awarded Gold status.
27 Jul 1988

Warner Music licence with Magnasound

Warner Music licence with Magnasound India Pvt. Ltd. approved by the Ministry of Industry, Government of India.
Sep 1988

Resigned from CBS, india

Sep 1988

Licensee for India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Albania.

Warner Music appoints Magnasound India Pvt Ltd as its exclusive licensee for India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Albania.
Jan 1989

Heat proof Magnasound International Cassette cover released

19 Feb 1989

Release of 'Alphaville to Led Zeppelin '

Magnasound releases 20 Warner Music albums from ‘Alphaville to Led Zeppelin'.
Jul 1989

Release of ’Together' brand

Releases album of Kartick and his son Niladiri.
Mar 1989

Madonna, Like a Prayer

Madonna’s Like a Prayer becomes first simultaneous release of a major US artist in India. For the first time Magnasound released the product exactly as was packaged in Europe, the USA and the Far East.
Watch Video
1989

MAGNASOUND RELEASES 27 ALBUMS IN 1989

Jun 1990

Brand ‘Together’

Releases album of Alla Rakha and Zakir. Becomes the “fastest selling classical album of its time.”
Dec 1990

Rock Machine, The Second Coming

Album release of India's most popular Rock Band of the time.
1990

MAGNASOUND RELEASES 48 ALBUMS IN 1990

1991

Begins Release Licence With BMG

Bremen Music, a company promoted by Shashi Gopal, is incorporated and is appointed the exclusive licensee for BMG in India. Whitney Houston, Jim Reeves, Boney M, Elvis Presley, Nirvana, along with over 200 other major artistes released in India in that year. From this year onward, and for the next five years, Shashi Gopal controlled 40% of the International Market share in India.
Sep 1991

A.R. Rahman Debut

Release of A.R. Rahman’s debut album, 'Set Me Free'.
Nov 1991

First Indian Pop song featured on MTV India

Produces music video for ‘Alone Now’, sung by Jasmine Bharucha from Magnasound's album ‘Alien Desire’. Magnasound produced this first video that was featured on the MTV playlist.
1991

MAGNASOUND RELEASED 24 ALBUMS IN 1991

Feb 1992

Baba Sehgal Debut

Releases of Baba Sehgal’s, ‘Thanda Thanda Pani’, the first Desi rap album to sell a million copies.
Watch Video
Aug 1992

Songs of Lord Ganesh

The famous Siddhivinayak Temple of Mumbai appoints Magnasound as its exclusive licensee for its prestigious album.
Oct 1992

Hariharan & Zakir Hussain, ‘Hazir’

Release of an all-star collaboration for the very first time.
1992

MAGNASOUND RELEASES 33 ALBUMS IN 1992

Jan 1993

Shri Mandolin Srinivas, Lalgudy Jayaraman

Two hit albums released.
Feb 1993

A.R. Rahman, ‘Pudhiya Mugham’

Release of Telephoto’s Tamil film soundtrack, ‘Pudhiya Mugham’.
Jun 1993

A.R. Rahman, ‘Thiruda Thiruda’

Release of Mani Ratnam’s Tamil film soundtrack, ‘Thiruda Thiruda’.
Nov 1993

Shweta Shetty Debut

Release of Shweta Shetty’s debut album, ‘Johnny Joker’, recorded in London - music composed by Biddu.
Watch Video
1993

MAGNASOUND RELEASES 61 ALBUMS IN 1993

Jan 1994

Director of IPRS

Invited to be on the governing board of the Indian Performing Rights Society (IPRS).
1994

Purchase of Sangeetha Madras Catalogue

Purchase of rights to over 40 albums of Carnatic music - ML Vasantakulari, S Balachander, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan, DK Pattamal, to name a few.
Apr 1994

Telugu Soundtrack, ‘Yamaleela’

Releases the super hit album from the soundtrack of the film, ‘Yamaleela’.
Apr 1994

Catalogue of EMI Pakistan

Releases catalogue of EMI Pakistan in India, a collection of over 300 albums representing some of the biggest names of Pakistan - Ghulam Ali, Munni Begum, Nusrat Fateh Ali khan, Mehdi Hasan, Farina Khanum,…
May 1994

A.R. Rahman, ‘Roja’

Releases the Hindi film soundtrack of Manu Ratnam’s Tamil film, ‘Roja’. Magnasound features its POP artists Baba Shweta, Hariharan. This album awarded triple platinum status.
Jun 1994

A.R. Rahman, ‘Super Police’

Release of Subbirami Reddy’s Telugu film soundtrack 'Super Police’.
Oct 1994

Jagjit Singh, ‘Face to Face’

Releases an album containing eight spectacular ghalzals. Magnasound also produces two magnificent videos featuring the late artiste.
Watch Video
Dec 1994

Tamil Soundtrack, ‘Karna’

Release of hit soundtrack of Tamil film, ‘Karna’
1994

MAGNASOUND RELEASES 84 ALBUMS IN 1994

Feb 1995

Suchitra Krishnamurthy Debut

Watch Video
Apr 1995

Alisha Chinai - ‘Made in India’

Releases Alisha Chinai’s album ‘Made in India’ - awarded triple Platinum status.
Watch
Aug 1995

Daler Mehndi Debut

Releases album ‘Bolo Ta Ra Ra’ - awarded Platinum status. Daler becomes a sensation.
Watch
Oct 1995

Compilations of ‘Roop Inka Mastana’ and ‘Oorja’

These two albums containing remix of film songs sold over 2 million copies.
Watch Video
1995

MAGNASOUND RELEASES 146 ALBUMS IN 1995

1996

Shaan and Saagarika Debut

Releases album ’Naujawan’ recorded in London - music composed by Biddu.
Watch
Mar 1996

Brand ‘Together'

Releases album of Dr N Rajam and daughter Sangeeta Shankar and another album of Vinayakram, S Ganesh and U Shanker and another of Dr N Ramani and R Thyagarajan.
Apr 1996

Colonial Cousins Debut

Release Colonial Cousin’s self-titled album which was awarded Platinum status and won the Billboard Music award for best video.
Watch Video
Jun 1996

Shubha Mudgal Debut Pop album

Releases album ‘Ali More Angna’.
Watch Video
Aug 1996

Models Debut

India’s first ‘All Girls Band’ of Models - releases album ‘Jaana Hai Bollywood’ - recorded in London. Music composed by Biddu. Kailash Surendranath is the director of the video ‘Jaana Hai Bollywood.’
Watch Video
Sep 1996

Daler Mehndi - ‘Dardi Rab Rab’

Album awarded multi-Platinum status. Daler becomes the most popular performing artiste in India.
Watch
Oct 1996

Gary Lawyer, ‘Arrow and the Dust’

Video of title song shot in New York City
1996

​MAGNASOUND RELEASES 140 ALBUMS IN 1996

Jan 1997

Anu Malik Debut Pop album

Releases album ‘I Yai Yo’. Recorded in London. Biddu and Anu Malik jointly composed 8 songs for the album.
Apr 1997

MTV Unplugged album

Release of MTV Unplugged album by Colonial Cousins. India’s first ever artist to be featured on MTV Unplugged.
Watch
Dec 1997

Shweta Shetty - ‘Deewane To Deewane Hain’

Album awarded Platinum status.
Watch
1997

MAGNASOUND RELEASES 83 ALBUMS IN 1997

1989 - 1997

FROM 1989 - 1997 RELEASES AND PROMOTES OVER 800 ALBUMS OF WARNER MUSIC INCLUDING MADONNA, PHIL COLLINS, ERIC CLAPTON, DOORS, TRACY CHAPMAN...

Apr 1998

Sonu Nigam Debut Pop album

Releases album ‘Kismat’. Recorded in London. Composed by Biddu. Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu makes her debut in the video ‘Tu’. Awarded Platinum status.
Watch
Sep 1998

Daler Mehndi, ‘Tunak Tunak Tun’

Magnasound signs record-high deal of Rs. 25 Million deal with Daler. Magnasound's video features Daler in a quadruple role. The videos of this song receive 40 millions cumulated views on YouTube.
Watch
Jan 1999

Remo Debut Hindi Pop

Releases album ‘Oh Meri Munni’ -awarded Gold Status.
Watch
Jan 1999

Zee TV ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ Show Winner - Modh. Vakil Debut

Releases album 'Kasak'. Video of title song features TV serial sensation Amar.
May 1999

Collaboration Single

Daler Mehndi, Sonu Nigam and Remo collaborate on a song on cricket to set the mood for the World Cup. The song is titled 'Howzaat’.
Sep 1999

Kannada Soundtrack - ‘Shabdavedi’

Kannada Soundtrack - ‘Shabdavedi’ produced by the evergreen hero of Kannada - Shri Rajkumar. This was the most expensive soundtrack acquisition of Magnasound in Karnataka at the time.
Oct 1999

Brand ‘Together'

Releases album of Shiv Kumar Sharma and son Rahul.
Dec 1999

Prime Minister of India’s Letter of commendation

Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee sends Letter of Commendation on the release of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi's 12 CD set - Panditji’s last collection before his demise.
SEE
1999

MAGNASOUND RELEASES 70 ALBUMS IN 1999

Jan 2000

Director of PPL

Invited to become Director of Phonographic Performances Ltd (PPL).
Jan 2000

ZEE TV ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ TV Show Winner - Bela Shende Debut

Releases album ‘Kaisa Yeh Jadoo’.
Apr 2000

Hariharan - ‘Kaash’

Releases R&B/Gospel-fusion album which is acclaimed by critics as a product of international standard.
Watch Video
Jun 2000

Adnan Sami Debut album

Releases album ’Kabhi To Nazar Milao’, one of the most successful albums in the history of Hindi pop sales. Album achieves triple platinum status. The song ’Kabhi To Nazar Milao’ remains number one in the MTV playlist for 56 continuous weeks. Adnan Sami and Magnasound presented the coveted MTV Moon Man award.
Watch Video
Dec 2000

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, ‘Siddhi’

Releases 12- CD set of Panditji last works, aptly titled 'Siddhi'.
2000

​MAGNASOUND RELEASES 139 ALBUMS IN 2000

2001

Strings - Durr

This phenomenal band from Pakistan approached Magnasound via email for the release and marketing of the album which Magnasound responded favourably. The band went on to perform in cities across India, achieving huge popularity.
Watch Video
2003

​MAGNASOUND RELEASES 154 ALBUMS DURING 2001 - 2003

7 May 2012

Magnasound grants Sony Music an exclusive license to publish its repertoire in India for 3 years.

15 Jun 2012

Magnasound grants Sony Music an exclusive worldwide license for 3 years across digital formats.

2013

40-Year Anniversary

Shashi’s 40-year anniversary of entering the music industry.
19 Feb 2014

Magnasound’s 25th anniversary of commercial business

Preamble – An instinct for survival

Date: January 17, 2014
Read full article

The Journey to Magnasound

Date: January 17, 2014
Read full article

Magnasound: Voice of a new India

Date: January 17, 2014
Read full article

Collaborations

Adnan Sami

Singer, musician, actor and composer.

ASK THE PANDIT… Pandit Shashi Gopal!!!

It is such an immense pleasure to learn that the legendary Shashi Gopal is all set to Re-enter the atmosphere of the Music World again! My association with Shashi is one that I  will cherish all my life. Indeed, together, we made Musical History with the biggest selling Indian non-film album of all time – “Kabhi Tho Nazar Milao” or simply “KTNM” as we affectionately called it!

The combination was lethal: Shashi’s Marketing Genius and My Music! The best part of it all was that we both were up against the greatest of odds respectively of the time…

The Problem:

  1. Non-Film music was on the decline.
  2. It was impossible to compete with the marketing budgets of Bollywood music.

The Solution:

  1. I had created music with the production akin to a Bollywood film.
  2. Shashi decided to bombard me on every TV channel & talk show across India without a budget for advertising along with innumerable ground promotions!!

The decisive factor:

All of us collectively believed in his ‘Creative’ Marketing Vision…

The Result: UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS!

Today we are faced with a similar dilemma where non-film music is on the decline with music labels at a loss for a solution. Every era has it’s own challenges & thus their own solutions.. For all the Music Label Gurus out there, I strongly suggest…

"ASK THE PANDIT… Pandit Shashi Gopal!!!" Adnan Sami