Interview with Mr. Satvinder Kohli – IPRS

Interview with Mr. Satvinder Kohli

Speed Records: Making Punjabi the Global Heartbeat

Speed Records is by many a melody and one of the most popular Punjabi music labels. With a stupendous track record, Speed Records has been scaling greater heights every day. Their successful foray into music channels Speed Bhojpuri, Speed Haryanvi, and Speed Gurbani has them upbeat as they are now readying to launch a bouquet of music channels; Speed Dogri, Speed Kashmiri, Speed Rajasthani, and Speed Gujarati.  Set to roll off soon Speed Records UK is also one of their dream projects. With a whopping 40 million subscribers and counting, Speed Records is marching to its own Universal beat.

We spoke to Satvinder Kohli, Managing Director of Speed Records to get the key to being the phenomenal record label they are. 

1. Speed Records is a massive influence on the youth in Punjab. Can you tell us how your music is influencing the Punjabi culture of the day?

Punjabi songs these days have started reaching almost every corner of India and even abroad. Our songs are being received really well and are being promoted by the Hindi Film Industry too. We are glad that people all over the country are listening to the songs we make, even if many of them don’t fully comprehend them. Almost every Bollywood film has a Punjabi song, demonstrating the language’s popularity.  Our songs reaching an audience outside Punjab & Punjabis is a big deal for us. When you see people from different cities, different counties & different races grooving to the beats of your songs it enhances the propagation of the Punjabi language and hence the Punjabi culture.

2. While most regional music is failing to recover Investments, what is exceptional about Speed Records that makes it a success?

Our strength lies in the fact that we have experience of more than 28 years in the music industry. The music industry has seen tremendous change and growth over the years and our making it here helps ascertain that we are making good music – something that the audience resonates with even after so many years. We have never limited our search for good content. We keep making studio visits and attending sessions as well to bring the best music out there. It’s by God’s grace that we have made it this far & we hope to take our love for music further over the years. 

3. Can you list some of your most successful albums and give us an insight into the making of at least one that you backed?

Ah, yes. Our albums like Sai by Satinder Sartaj, International Village by Honey Singh, Collaborations by Sukhshinder Shinda, and Gurdaas Maan were major successes back in the day. Then there were our hit albums Jatt & Juliet & Carry on Jatta. Their songs are something that is still being listened to and loved by the audience. Satinder Sartaj’s Sai was a Sufi album & we still remember how it ranked in the TOP 10 Ringtones of India which was a huge deal back in the day. The album International Villager & Honey Singh put Speed Records on the international horizon. From Jassie Gill’s Replay, Alfaaz’s Boy Next Door, Gippy Grewal’s Desi Rockstar years ago to Karan Aujla’s BTFU, Amrit Maan’s All Bamb & Nimrat Khaira’s Nimmo album this year we have had a long yet fruitful journey surely.

4. Do you believe more in working with established artists or is your tilt more towards scouting for new talent? What is the difference between the two?

We have never confined music to any sort of boundaries. We believe in exploring & bringing new potential talent forward and at the same time are fortunate enough to be working with the finest batch of artists out there. Our search for quality content and singers never stops.

This year, we are launching another rising star Meharvaani. She is a pop Punjabi sensation. We are determined to make it a huge success & taking care of every minute detail – everything from the content to the looks in the songs. We keep exploring talent & try and bring the very best to the audience.

5. Do you think a song can go on to become popular on its own without a video or is a video a mandatory requirement for promoting music?

A video is a mandatory requirement, no doubt about it. Visibility is key to success after-all “जो दिखता है वो बिकता है”! To make a song a great success, a video is an absolute must. The scenario today has completely changed, it’s the digital era & thus what is seen, sells! Today the storyline, videography, locations, costumes & the colors of a video all tend to play a very important role. 

6. How do you pick the talent to work with? Is there any particular process you follow?

We are often approached by young singers, musicians & lyricists. If we see the potential in a singer, we work on their vocals, their overall looks, their pronunciation & their content. Same way if there’s a writer, we see what kind of content they write & we go by their capabilities & help them excel further. We take forward the best of the lot that comes out of this creative process & put all our efforts into helping bring out the best content and explore all the commercial aspects as well.

7. At what point did you decide that you would be producing films? It must have been a big call.  What do you attribute your success to in the area of film production?

In 2007, Mini Punjab was the first film we produced. My elder brother, Balvinder Singh Kohli (Ruby) shifted to Mumbai and we established a production house there. The biggest Punjabi Blockbuster Movies – Jatt & Juliet & Carry on Jatta were made by us. In 2017, we started a Satellite Channel and we make 4-5 movies every year. In 2021, we started with an OTT Platform – Chaupal & for this, we are working on exclusive content which includes a large no. of movies, web series, and plays on the platform.  Almost 20-25 movies are being made every year for Chaupal, for Exclusive, for theaters, and satellite as well.

8. You’ve attained a stupendous 40 million subscribers on YouTube and are the top Punjabi music label in the world. Can you take us through your initial years and the early days?

We started our career in the 1990s as the distributors for various music companies we had in store. We decided to launch our company Speed Records in 2004 with experience of retail alone. Our claim to fame was the album “Collaborations” with Sukhshinder Shinda & Gurdas Maan in 2007. In 2009, we released the most famous album by Honey Singh “International Villager”. In the next two years, we released back-to-back mega-hits like Satinder Sartaj’s Sai Album, Jatt & Juliet, Mirza, Carry on Jatta and we have never looked back since.

9. What keeps you going as a record label?  Please tell us about the new regional music channels launched by you and the plans behind them.

The determination to keep growing and adapting & of course bringing the best music to the audience is what keeps us going. Since 2017, we have broadened our horizons and branched out into regional music as well. We launched Speed Bhojpuri in 2017, Speed Haryanvi in 2018, and Speed Gurbani for devotional Punjabi content in 2021 & this year we plan to launch 4-5 more regional channels – Speed Dogri, Speed Kashmiri, Speed Rajasthani & Speed Gujrati.

10. What are the new projects you are working on? Are there any plans in the offering to experiment with the kind of music you are producing at Speed?

We are currently working on a wide variety of projects.  We plan to launch 70-80% Punjabi singers and new sensations as well during the season. We are definitely going to experiment as we are branching out into Speed Records UK. The culture and music there are quite different and we are definitely going for that.

11. With the digital boom, we are seeing multiple music channels being launched in recent times. What will your message be to all those who have or are planning to launch their own music channel?

When we launched the channel in 2004, there was minimal digitization of content. A huge change came about in 2015. The digital boom rapidly changed the industry and by 2017 it became even bigger.

First of all, we wish the best of luck to all the new music channels. Our message to them is that they work really hard & explore the commercial viability of the projects because from where we are standing the recoupment is not much compared to the investments we are making currently.

However, we need to give a channel time to grow and so if they are starting a channel today, they can count on the fact that if they work hard then in the next 4-5 years, they will definitely see huge growth. The initial stage is always tough but if they keep working with dedication, they can make it work.