In what is another testament to the rising profile of Nigerian music and artistes, Universal Music Group recently announced a significant expansion of operations within West Africa, with the launch of Universal Music Nigeria.
UMG is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries.
The new strategic division, will operate from Lagos, under the leadership of seasoned music executive Ezegozie Eze Jr., who has been named General Manager of Universal Music Nigeria.
Eze and his team will support artistes from Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and other parts of the continent, utilizing UMG’s global networks for wider discovery, marketing, promotion and distribution.
Eze, has previously held roles at Channel O Television, Empire Mates Entertainment among others, and brings vital experience in the Nigerian music market. He will report to Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The label has signed a host of Nigerian-born artistes including WurlD, Odunsi(the Engine), TayIwar, and Ghanaian-born artistes Cina Soul and Stonebwoy.
In addition, the label recently signed marquee deals with acclaimed Banku singer and songwriter Mr Eazi for pan-African releases, co-signed Nigerian artist Tekno in conjunction with Island Records UK, and Tanzanian singer and songwriter Vanessa Mdee in conjunction with AfroForce1 Records/Universal Music Central Europe/Universal Music South Africa.
In making the announcement, Dlamini said, “In recent years there has been an increase in visibility of Nigerian and Ghanaian music and its influence on contemporary music around the world. Eze and his team are perfectly placed to support, nurture and help develop artists and musicians from the region, whilst creating opportunities for new talent from the region to reach the widest possible audience.”
Eze commented, “I am delighted to be officially launching Universal Music’s Nigerian division at such an exciting time for African music around the world. The world’s largest music company opening an office within the region is a huge statement of belief in our local music talent.
“The signings we have already made show our ambition to help our artistes reach the widest global audience and we are looking forward to working closely with our UMG label partners around the world to make that happen.”
Universal Music Group operates two successful live music companies within Africa, both of which will also have divisions within Universal Music Nigeria.
Launched in 2017 in Johannesburg, UMG Live Africa has quickly become one of the leading talent booking agencies within the continent. It has successfully helped redefine the role of a booking agency within Africa, with a broad roster of artistes made up of both UMG talent and non-UMG signed artistes, making more than 600 performances throughout 2017.
ULive Africa was founded in 2016 and is engaged in staging, producing, programming and hosting large-scale live concerts and events throughout Africa including Runway Jazz, the inaugural African Comedy Awards, Lekki Sunsplash (30th Anniversary Edition), among others.
Universal Music Nigeria is currently developing plans to open a recording studio in Lagos in order to further advance the recording facilities available to local African talent. It will become UMG’s second fully purposed studio within Africa, alongside the existing facility in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Through these strategic investments, initiatives and executive appointments, UMG is accelerating the company’s focus on growing the entire African music ecosystem including recorded music, music publishing, production, live events, brand partnerships and merchandising efforts.