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If you are a Punjabi music fan or have ever heard any Punjabi song, chances are that was produced by Speed Records, the region’s biggest music company. It’s taken its three partners, Balvinder Singh, Dinesh Auluck and Satwinder Singh, 15 years to build the giant label. Today at 2.58 crore subscribers, they are the biggest YouTube channel providing Punjabi music. Every year they release 200 to 250 songs, of which many are by new artists. We speak to Dinesh Auluck and Satwinder Singh about their successful journey. 

Tell us about the genesis of Speed Records.

Dinesh: Balvinder Singh, mostly known as Ruby, used to be distributor of various music companies such as Tips in Punjab since 1993. His work included spreading cassettes and CDs all over Punjab. In 2001, I started managing Jazzy B. Around 2004, when the music industry saw a downfall in terms of physical distribution of CDs and cassettes, we both thought of coming up with Speed Records. Later Ruby ji’s brother Satwinder Singh, also known as Sonu, joined us and became our third partner. 

What did you learn during your association with Tips? 

Dinesh: When you jump from a local company to a big corporate, you experience new things. We learnt a lot by working with them. Travelling to Mumbai to present Punjabi songs to Tips was a big deal for us. Tips would closely listen to them, do a lot of brainstorming, and decide the video’s concept. It is then that we understood the importance of concepts and scripting. 

Another important learning was related to paperwork. During that time no artist used to sign agreements. But after working with Tips, we realised the significance of signing contracts with music directors, lyricists, singers etc. Our stint with Tips taught us how to associate with TV channels and take royalty from radio channels. These are things that not many companies in Punjab knew about. 

What has been the breakthrough moment for Speed Records? 

Sonu: There have been many such moments that grew our faith in what we were doing. Our claim to fame was the Collaboration album released in 2006. It featured Sukhshinder Shinda, Gurdas Maan, Abrar Ul Haq, Jazzy B etc. It is still fresh in everyone’s heart. 

And then we were very happy when we launched singer Honey Singh with International Villager, Satinder Sartaj and Sai and Sharry Maan with Yaar Anmulle. Similarly, when we came up with video of Jazzy B’s Rambo song, people thought that it was a wrong decision and that we won’t be able to recover money. But that also did quite well. Entering the world of films was another ballgame. We took that risk too and produced some popular films such as Jatt & Juliet, Nikka Zaildar, Dil Diyan Gallan, Qismat, Guddiyan Patole etc. 

Dinesh and Ruby with singer Jazzy B.

In this 15-year journey, what would you say has led to your success?

Dinesh: Teamwork has been our biggest strength. We worked as a team with the singers and whoever was associated with the song. At times when we were facing any loss, we would still fulfil our commitment with the team. 

Besides this, we kept changing and evolving with time. Our biggest decision was to establish our digital presence at the right time. Our experience of working with corporates and keeping our paperwork intact worked in our favour. We doubt if any old music companies from Punjab ever signed agreements. Fortunately, we never faced any disputes as we always had our contracts in place. In today’s time, when we upload something and someone counter claims, it is the paperwork that helps the most. Moreover, today most corporates ask for ownership proofs of songs. 

How big is Speed today? 

Sonu: Speed group is a complete entertainment platform that provides music, films, live shows, artist management etc. But despite our presence in all these spheres, we feel that we are still strugglers and try to do something new every day. 

At the same time, we’re happy to share that we are the biggest YouTube channel providing Punjabi music. With 2.58 crore YouTube subscribers, we have the maximum Punjabi content. If we add numbers of other small channels such as Speed Punjabi etc, have a subscriber base of over 3 crore. We can proudly say that we are the number one Punjabi music content provider in the entire world. 

Every year we release songs of around 40 to 50 artists, out of which 10-12 are new artists. We release 200 to 250 songs in a year – out of which 150 songs have music videos. With the kind of subscriber base we have, imagine the number of organic views our content must be getting.

We manage around 16 artists – from their live shows to brand endorsements, movie business to advertisements, digital presence, and shows which include MTV Unplugged, Imperial Blue Super Hit Nights, Tinder, and many more. With over 200 artists associated with our brand, we have worked with the finest talent such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Gurdas Maan, Hans Raj Hans, Babbu Maan, Diljit Dosanjh, Gippy Grewal, Honey Singh, Guru Randhawa etc. 

Dinesh: It gives us immense happiness when we see the urban youth dancing on Punjabi songs released by us. It makes us happy when parents say that their little ones eat their food only when they play any of our songs. 

Unfortunately, new artists always debate about boosting their songs. And then we tell them that content is the winner – be it Bollywood, Tollywood or Pollywood. If content is good, it can be pushed with some amount of advertisement. But it is difficult to make a non-performing song perform by just putting an advertisement on it. 

Every year we release songs of around 40 to 50 artists, out of which 10-12 are new artists. We release 200 to 250 songs in a year – out of which 150 songs have music videos. With the kind of subscriber base we have, imagine the number of organic views our content must be getting.

What is your process of choosing talent?

Dinesh: We always associate with talent that we feel knows his/her craft and has good content. We go out of the way to promote artists that have the best content. Lyrics are the first and foremost thing that matter to us. It is followed by locking the singer, music director, video director and then we decide about its digital promotion. But before anything else, we need to like the lyrics of a song. 

The reason Punjabi music is still surviving, and thriving is because Punjab offered content that was liked by youth. Other industries didn’t change with the times. Around 20-25 songs are written, composed, recorded, shot and released in Punjab every day.

What is the strength of your company? 

Sonu: Speed’s success goes to the artists of Punjab who have always stood by us. From Jazzy B, Gippy Grewal to Diljit Dosanjh, Master Saleem to Madan Maddi and young talent such as Gurnazar, Jassi, Babbal Rai etc; they’ve always pushed us to cross our limits. If a song didn’t work, they never bothered about their payment. Then some artists have been offered more money by other companies, but they still stood by us. 

There are more than 60 people in our team who are based in Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Delhi and Gurugram. In 2015, when Ruby ji’s son Ramandeep joined us, we grew by leaps and bounds. His sole focus has been digital. Every day he comes up with new ideas to grow and expand digitally. He handles the complete Digital Marketing of Speed Records on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or other social media and digital platforms. 

Singer Shaan recently asked on Twitter why Punjabi songs are more popular than songs in other languages. What is your take?

Dinesh: If you look at the past few years, you’ll notice that big artists have stopped doing solo songs. And if anyone came up with any song, it didn’t work because the content wasn’t strong. Be it Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Udit Narayan, Sunidhi Chauhan, who has given viewers any popular track off lately? If last year’s Tera Ghata did so well, why can’t other songs do?

The reason Punjabi music is still surviving, and thriving is because Punjab offered content that was liked by youth. Other industries didn’t change with the times. Around 20-25 songs are written, composed, recorded, shot and released in Punjab every day. Moreover, in Punjab, everyone loves Punjabi music and the language and they do their best to promote it. 

What’s next for Speed Records?

Sonu: We have already started Speed Bhojpuri and Speed Haryanvi. In a span of a year, we’ve become one of the top five Bhojpuri music companies. We’ll also start devotional music soon.

We’ve partnered with Gaana to promote independent music from artists under the brand name of Gaana Originals. We have also partnered with EYP creations and organize the biggest festivals in India including Lager n Barrel, Crossblade Music Festival and Just Comedy. 

Dinesh: In 2020, we will start Speed Hindi that will cater to Bollywood music. With this we will focus on reviving Indie Pop music culture by offering good content. Music listeners fall between the age group of 7 to 27 years. Any content that is being heard by youth has chance of turning hit. Though three of us don’t fall in that age bracket but we always keep youngsters in our team who keep the spirit young. We prefer working with young team. 

Speed Records’ Top 5 Popular Songs 

Badnaam (357 M views) 

Singer Mankirat Aulukh’s Badnaam released in 2017 became an instant hit. It was composed by music composer DJ Flow, shot by famous video director Sukh Sanghera and conceived by music presenter Gurpreet Khetla.

Bapu Zimidaar (300 M views) 

This 2014 track was sung by singer-actor Jassi Gill who recently made his Bollywood film debut with Happy Phir Bhaag Jayegi and is all set to feature opposite Kangana Ranaut in Ashwiny Iyer Tiwar’s Panga.

Lamberghini 

Speed released two Lamberghini songs and both were equally big. Last year’s Lamberghini (318 M) that was written by The Doorbeen and featured singer Ragini Tandon gained more attention when Bollywood stars Alia Bhatt, Jaqueline Fernandez, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh got hooked to it. A relatively desi song of same name – Laembadgini (252M) – was released in 2016 and sung by Diljit Dosanjh. The video was directed by Kesari and Jatt & Juliet fame Anurag Singh.

Mann Bhareya (124 M views)

This song released in 2017 was sung by B Praak, written by Jaani and directed by Arvinder Khaira. Punjab’s popular trio – B Praak, Jaani and Arvinder Khaira – have recently shot Akshay Kumar’s first music video Filhaal.

5 Tara (119 M views) 

Diljit Dosanjh’s 5 Tara is everyone’s favourite breakup song. Composed by Jatinder Shah, this song was directed by Punjab’s leading film director Anurag Singh.

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