Surya Mantha, Former Web18 CEO and currently a VC with Omidyar Network, will join Saregama India, among India’s largest music labels, as its Managing Director early next year, Mantha posted on Facebook (screenshot below; you’ll probably need to be friends with him to view this update). Mantha will take over from Apurv Nagpal, who had left the company in April 2012 after a three year stint at the helm of the company. Mantha joining Saregama is particularly significant because he’s essentially a Internet exec, and joins with significant experience in the digital space: he time at Omidyar was spent looking at investments in “digital media, consumer Internet, mobile value added services and mobile payments”, while he was at the helm of Web18, Network18 groups Internet business for almost four years. Before that, he was with Sify India, prior to which he was with RealNetworks. This will be interesting particularly because physical sales of music is on the decline, and monetization of music online has been tricky. However, being at the helm of a music label is very different from being in charge of a web business – the music business is relationship driven, and as Nagpal had once told us – no two deals are the same.
The music business is going through significant turmoil right now with the decline in mobile value added services (they’ll feel the pain once contracts have to be renewed with aggregators and VAS companies, and minimum guarantees decline), so it’s an interesting time for a music label to get a digital guy at the helm.
We tried calling Mantha to discuss some of his plans and views on the music business, but he didn’t confirm or deny the development: just said he’s in the middle of something and hung up. We’re awaiting a response to our SMS. Mantha’s facebook update below: