Warner Music has been shaking up the regional music markets in Asia this year, making a lot of noise with the launch of a pan-Asian dance label called Whet Records as well as Asiatic Records, dedicated to supporting hip hop and rap talent from across the region. Before this, in 2020 it launched in Vietnam and introduced ADA, its independent artist and label services.
Much of this noise was made after Chris Gobalakrishna and Jonathan Serbin stepped in to replace Simon Robson in his role as President of Warner Music Asia in 2020 and were pivotal in expanding the company’s regional operations. Seems the pair got a promotion as last week they were named as the new Co-Presidents of Warner Music Asia. Both will be based in Hong Kong and report to Robson, who has returned to London after five years in the seat.
Gobalakrishna started his career at BMG in 1994 spent the next ten years climbing the ladder before moving on to Sony Music Entertainment, having held several presidential positions along the way. He arrived at Warner Music in 2020, in the same year at Serbin was named CEO of Greater China and Head of Strategic Investment. Serbin joined from Billboard where he served as Head of Asia since 2014, overseeing the launch of the brand in China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Serbin began his career as a corporate music lawyer in New York, before moving into investment banking with a specialism in media and entertainment mergers and acquisitions.
“Chris and I are determined to give a launchpad to all the amazing artists emerging from all corners of Asia, so they can take their rightful place on the global stage,” says Serbin. “From hip-hop to dance, rock to pop, Asian artists are redefining genres and connecting with audiences like never before.
"The wider world is waking up to the huge level of talent in this region and the next few years will see Asian artists becoming increasingly influential and successful on the world stage. We want Warner Music to be leading this revolution.”
Gobalakrishna adds: “I’m honoured to be working with Jonathan to lead our Asian operations. Asia is such a dynamic region, with dramatic growth prospects, which is also driving the latest tech developments in music streaming and the wider ecosystem. We need to continue to innovate to ensure that Warner Music is the first choice for artists with global aspirations. We’re constantly looking to better monetise the huge consumption of music in all its forms across the region to the benefit our artists.”
Warner Music says that Gobalakrishna and Serbin together will accelerate its strategy in the region over the coming years, which includes dramatically expanding its domestic rosters in key markets and connecting with music fans in these crucial music scenes. They will work to expedite the current trajectory of music in Asia, which saw the recorded music industry grow by 9.5% to US$5.1 billion in 2020, and by 29.9% excluding the more established market in Japan.