Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence. Any common man in India is aware of ‘T Series’, the biggest music record label of the most populous country on the planet.
The ground-breaking and record-shattering success saga of T-Series dates back to 1983 when it was formed under the name of Super Cassettes Industries Private Ltd in Delhi. Now, it has become a dominant and well-recognized name in the music and entertainment industry.
T-Series boasts a whopping 172 Million subscribers on it’s main channel. It’s net-worth is estimated to be over 2,400 crore Indian rupees with revenue flowing in from more than 24 countries across the world. But what we see today was once a story in the making. Who built this story? Who’s the protagonist of this business success? Read out to find more.
Humble Beginnings Of T-Series
Back in the days when India witnessed a bloodied partition in 1947, the father of Gulshan Kumar, Chandrabhan Kumar Dua migrated to India and settled in the Indian capital of Delhi. For those who are unaware, Gulshan Kumar is the founding father of T-Series entertainment company.
In the initial days, the father of Gulshan Kumar was a fruit seller in the Daryaganj Area of Delhi. Gulshan Kumar, being the entrepreneurial kid he was, aided his father Chandrabhan in the business chores. Many times, the best ideas to generate more income in the fruit business would come from Gulshan Kumar and his father would happily inculcate these ideas.
The brainstorming of business ideas never stopped and Gulshan came up with the idea of selling audio cassettes. During these days, the music discs were in vogue but Gulshan successfully forecasted the takeover of discs by Japanese audio cassettes and took the first mover advantage.
In July 1983, Gulshan Kumar incorporated his company Super Cassettes Industries Private Ltd. This was the foundation stone of what later came to be known as T-Series.
T-Series Led Innovations In Music
T-Series’ cassette business was a mega-hit. The reasonable prices and quality of T-Series products beat out the competition from expensive players of that time, such as the Gramophone Company of India (GCI) and Music India Ltd (MIL). The middle class population was appealed by Japanese cassettes sold by T-Series and merrily jumped on to the offering.
As Theodore Roosevelt once stated “do what you can, with what you have, where you are”, Gulshan Kumar is evident to have followed this maxim. His business shrewdness was on the next level. Building good relationships with the retailers was a norm. He would buy back any unsold cassettes from the retailers which helped T-Series to build an efficient distribution channel and penetrate into new markets easily.
– Cover Songs
Next up in Gulshan’s mind were the ‘Cover Songs’. In hindsight, this might be the single most important reason for the monumental success of T-Series. Technically, in popular music, a cover version, remake, cover song, revival, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording by someone other than the original artist or composer of a song.
The copyright laws in India at that time allowed a cover song to be made after 3 years of the original content’s release. Gulshan jumped on to this opportunity and began recording cover versions of original songs in the voice of other artists to add a new taste and offering for the music lovers in India.
This is when Gulshan Kumar launched new names in the Bollywood music industry. Sonu Nigam and Anuradha Paudwal are two of them. T-Series solicited the new-comers to sing the famous melodies of music veterans like Mohammed Rafi Sahab, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Mukesh Ji. Till date, no one shoos away a cover version of a song. Thus, one can imagine the business triumph Gulshan enjoyed by producing cover songs.
-Religious Chants Cassettes
Super Cassettes Industries Private Ltd. or T-Series as it is now known as, was printing big money by selling the cassettes. The profits were through the roof and Gulshan Kumar kept going. The current business model was simple. Recording covers of pre-existing songs and selling them to the masses. But any business is bound to collapse if the much needed innovation and diversification is put on pause for long.
Gulshan Kumar, once again exploited his sharp observation and forecasting prowess to come up with T-Series’ next grand successful product. The target customers were the elderly and older people this time. Gulshan noticed that Hinduism was a major religion in India and people loved to read religious texts. However, the elderly people preferred audio over texts. This is where T-Series would jump in to offer recorded religious chants, hymns and audios in cassettes for the elderly. T-Series also offered VHS and Video cassette tapes later on.
T-Series Bhakti Nagar is the world’s largest devotional YouTube Channel today which has amassed 24 Million Subscribers. It is no longer sole-focussed on hinduism and offers religious and devotional videos for many religions in various languages. Gulshan Kumar himself sang the Hanuman Chalisha which continues to be the most well-received video of T-Series Bhakti Nagar to date.
Mumbai – The City Of Dreams
Bombay, the city of dreams welcomed Gulshan Kumar with novel surprises. This was the time when he ventured into the Bollywood Industry whole-heartedly. In the year 1984, Gulshan Kumar’s T-Series produced its first ever original soundtrack for the movie Lallu Ram.
T-Series was soon on everyone’s mind. In the movie Qayamat se Qayamat Tak in 1988, the soundtrack which was created by T-Series became the best-selling soundtrack album in the country.
Gulshan knew no limits when it came to conquering the showbiz industry. T-Series ventured into film production with it’s first ever telefilm being Lal Dupatta Malmal Ka. It was a super blockbuster of the bollywood industry, the tales of which are still shared around.
Gulshan’s massive film production hit came with the movie Aashiqui in 1990. T-Series sold 20 million units of the soundtrack album scripting a new record all over India. T-Series was now the biggest music label in India and the journey was just beginning.
The other famous movies Gulshan Kumar produced were Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, Meera Ka Mohan, Jeena Marna Tere Sang, Sangeet, Appu Raja, Aaja Meri Jaan and more. There were many telefilms which were produced by Gulshan as well. To name a few, Jeena Teri Gali Mein, Lal Dupatta Malmal Ka and Meera ka Mohan.
Gulshan Kumar’s Assasination
All hell broke loose when Gulshan Kumar was shot dead in August of 1997. He was returning from the Jeeteshwar Mahadev Mandir in Jeet Nagar, Andheri West. At the time of his death, he was just 41 years old.
The Bollywood industry was left stunned by the assasination of Gulshan Kumar and T-Series was in a humongous dilemma. Gulshan’s son and legal heir Bhushan Kumar was now scheduled to take over the reigns. At a tender age of 19, Bhushan Kumar had to face the extreme realities of life and the business world.
Shift In Reigns – Bhushan Kumar
Bhushan Kumar was supported by his mother Sudesh Kumari and his uncle Krishan Kumar Dua while he was starting out to take control of operations at the company his father had built from rags to riches. Vinod Bhanushali, Neeraj Kalyan and Ved Chanana are some other prominent names who helped young Bhushan understand the ropes of the business. They were early and loyal employees of the company.
Bhushan Kumar made it a point to carry forward the legacy of his brilliant father Gulshan Kumar. He set out to revamp the lost relationships and the struggling business empire. From music directors to film producers, everyone had known Gulshan Kumar. The abrupt disconnect had been shocking to everyone. It was now Bhushan’s responsibility to bridge the gap.
Bhushan’s initial success came with the music marketing of the movie Dulhe Raja which was a grand success. He is now the MD and Director of T-Series Private Ltd. Under Bhushan’s guidance, great movies such as Patiala House, Ready and Lucky, Tum Bin, Bhool Bhulaiyaa were produced.
T-Series’ Business Expansion
Expansion and diversification is imminent to keep the business running. T-Series realized the vast diversity and cultural beliefs of Indians and started publishing works of singers and actors in various languages. T-Series was no longer a hindi only channel. It had become the mirroring heart and soul of India.
T-Series has accordingly started many YouTube channels like T-SeriesRegional, T-Series Apna Punjab, T-Series Telugu, T-Series Kannada, T-SeriesTamil, T-Series Malayalam, Hamaarbhojpuri, T-Series Gujarati, T-Series Marathi, T-SERIES HARYANVI, etc.
As you are reading this, T-Series has a little over 25 YouTube channels under its aegis. The total subscriber count of these channels combined is more than 185 Million.
In 2019, T-Series became the world’s most-subscribed YouTube channel by surpassing the famous Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie.
With all the afore-mentioned, one can only praise the far-sightedness and perspicacity of the Kumars who have revolutionized the film, music and entertainment industry of India. T-Series is now aiming to be the biggest film production company in India along with being the biggest music label of the country. It announced a sum of 500 crores for film production in 2018.
India is on path of significant developments in its entertainment and showbiz industry and T-Series is unequivocally and major contributor as well as beneficiary of this path to development.