Rahman has been involved in several projects aside from film. Vande Mataram, an album of his original compositions released on India's 50th anniversary of independence in 1997, enjoyed great commercial success.
Vande Mataram is one of the largest selling Indian non-film album to date.He followed it up with an album for the Bharat Bala-directed video Jana Gana Mana, a conglomeration of performances by many leading exponents and artists of Indian classical music. Rahman has written jingles for ads and composed several orchestrations for athletic events, television and internet media publications, documentaries and short films. He frequently enlists the Czech Film Orchestra, Prague and the Chennai Strings Orchestra.
In 1999, Rahman partnered with choreographers Shobana and Prabhu Deva and a Tamil cinema dancing troupe to perform with Michael Jackson in Munich, Germany at his "Michael Jackson and Friends" concert. In 2002, he composed the music for his maiden stage production, Bombay Dreams, commissioned by musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Finnish folk music band Varttina collaborated with Rahman to write the music for The Lord of the Rings theatre production and in 2004, Rahman composed the piece "Raga's Dance" for Vanessa-Mae's album Choreography performed by Mae and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Since 2004, Rahman has performed three successful world tours to audiences in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Dubai, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and India. He has been collaborating with Karen David for her upcoming studio album. A two-disc soundtrack, Introducing A. R. Rahman (2006) featuring 25 of his pieces from Tamil film scores was released in May 2006, and his non-film album, Connections was released on 12 December 2008. Rahman also performed at the White House State dinner arranged by US President Barack Obama during the official visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 24 November 2009.
Rahman is one of over 70 artists who performed on "We Are the World 25 for Haiti", a charity single to raise emergency relief funds in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In 2010, Rahman composed "Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat" in honor of the 50th anniversary of the formation of Gujarat State, "Semmozhiyaana Thamizh Mozhiyaam" as part of World Classical Tamil Conference 2010, and the official theme song of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, "Jiyo Utho Bado Jeeto". Rahman organised his first world tour, named A. R. Rahman Jai Ho Concert: The Journey Home World Tour, in 2010. The tour was kicked off on 11 June at the Nassau Coliseum in New York and span 16 major cities worldwide.
Some of his notable compositions were performed live by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2010. In February 2011, Rahman collaborated with Michael Bolton for his new studio album Gems - The Duets Collection. Rahman reworked on his song "Sajna" from the 2009 American film Couples Retreat to create the track.
On 20 May 2011, English musician Mick Jagger announced the formation of a new supergroup, SuperHeavy, which includes Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Damian Marley, and Rahman. The band's self-titled album is slated for release in September 2011. The album will see Mick Jagger singing in Rahman's composition "Satyameva Jayate", which translates to "the truth alone triumphs".
In January 2012, it was announced the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg would join KM Music Conservatory musicians in a 100-member concert tour of five Indian cities performing Rahman's compositions. The tour, named "Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities'. Classic Incantations", will mark the centenary of Indian cinema and of Studio Babelsberg, the world's oldest film studio.
In Summer 2012, Rahman composed a Punjabi song for the London Olympics opening ceremony, organised by Danny Boyle. It was part of a medley which showcased Indian influence in the UK, according to Boyle's wishes. Another Indian musician, Ilaiyaraja's song from Tamil-language film Ram Lakshman (1981), has also been chosen as part of the medley.
On 20 December 2012, Rahman released the single "Infinite Love" in both English and Hindi commemorating the last day of the Mayan calendar to spread hope, peace and love.