Universal Music mulls over plan to set shop in Kenya, eyes East African artistes
Posted Thursday, June 28 2012 at 10:15
- Universal Music Group is ranked the largest of the big four record companies globally.
- It is seeking to shore up the ratings of the East African talent search show, Tusker Project Fame, to the league of Idols and the Voice, world renowned TV reality shows it partners with.
- It manages some of the world’s most acclaimed names in the music industry such as Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga. Among the top African artistes produced by UMG are Youssou N’dour and Salif Keita.
Global record label Universal Music Group is mulling over a plan to establish its regional hub in Nairobi as the firm eyes signing up East African pop artistes into its fold.
The music recording company said it is using the Sh10 million ($118,800) worth of recording and distribution deal it has advanced to the winner of this year’s Tusker Project Fame as a strategy to assess the music potential of the local Eastern Africa market.
“It makes sense from a business perspective to set up shop here,” said Mr Gerrard Foster, the head of New Business Development for Sub Sahara Africa at Universal Music Group.
“But I can’t give you a timeline,” Mr Foster told the Business Daily in an exclusive interview.
Ranked the largest of the big four record companies globally, the music producer is seeking to shore up the ratings of the East African talent search show to the league of Idols and the Voice, world renowned TV reality shows it partners with.
UMG is scouting for fresh talent from the Tusker Project Fame Academy as well as budding and experienced artistes as the record label seeks to develop a new class of contemporary East African musicians that it will hopefully propel to the international stage.
The firm currently runs its African operations from South Africa and has embarked on venturing into Sub Saharan Africa ‘with a special focus on the Eastern and West African markets.’
The music and entertainment multinational manages some of the world’s most acclaimed names in the music industry such as Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga. Artistes Youssou N’dour and Salif Keita are among the top African musicians who have been produced by the French media company.
“We have started looking at East African talent starting in Kenya,” the firm said in a statement. Mr Foster said the company had signed a deal with a Kenyan musician, but refused to divulge further details.
Universal Music Group in May this year inked a multi-million dollar deal with award winning Nigerian pop duo P-Square.
The entry of the music label into Kenya is likely to raise the bar of the Kenyan music industry. It will also promote professionalism in a scene often characterised by squabbles between musicians and producers over intellectual property rights, revenue sharing and collection of royalties.
Apart from producing and distributing music, the firm brands musicians and helps them win endorsements for major brands, live performances and tours, roles in films, advertisements, modelling and selling artist and music-branded merchandise.
Mr Foster said the firm will engage home-grown expertise to ‘crack the local market’ and therefore offers a chance to domestic songwriters, producers, and composers an opportunity to partner with an international music producer.
Mr Foster said that the firm has been attracted to open an office in Nairobi to take advantage of the growing prominence of Kenyan music in the continent and beyond.
Camp Mulla, a Kenyan hip-hop band has been nominated for the 2012 BET Awards in the best international act, African category.