Independent label exec Binetou Sylla teams with UMG to develop Def Jam Africa in French-speaking markets

Independent label exec Binetou Sylla teams with UMG to develop Def Jam Africa in French-speaking markets

Universal Music France has formed a strategic relationship with Wèrè Wèrè Music and Binetou Sylla, a producer and founder of the independent label.

Sylla will lead Def Jam Africa within French-speaking markets on the continent, in collaboration with Universal Music France and its Capitol France division. 

“Dedicated to developing French-speaking African artists, the partnership will help foster the discovery and nurturing of new and existing talent, enabling Def Jam Africa artists to excel globally and continuing to follow the blueprint of the iconic Def Jam Recordings label, which has led and influenced the cutting-edge in hip-hop and urban culture worldwide for more than 35 years,” said a statement.

Sylla has more than 10 years’ experience running independent record labels between Paris and the African continent, including the historic Syllart Records label. 

The new partnership will focus on producing authentic artists through pan-African music projects capable of reaching a global audience. 

Def Jam Africa was first launched across French-speaking markets in 2020. Further announcements on signings and projects will follow in the coming months. 

The Sub-Saharan African market was the fastest growing region in 2023 according to IFPI’s Global Music Report (up by 24.7%). 

The partnership also complements UMG’s strategy to increase its presence in high potential music markets around the world. The major recently acquired a majority stake in Nigerian label Mavin Global (subject to regulatory approval).

Binetou Sylla, director of Syllart Records and founder of Wèrè Wèrè Music, said: "I'm proud to join forces with Universal Music France with a shared vision and passion to develop regional artists in French-speaking Africa internationally. In partnering with Def Jam and Capitol, Wèrè Wèrè Music is uniquely positioned to deliver commercial and global success to unique African talent from across the continent. Def Jam, our driving force, is a powerful, unifying brand in the French-speaking and international ecosystem. Def Jam Africa is more than just a music label; it is the embodiment of a set of authentic values that make no compromise on artistic excellence."

Olivier Nusse, president, Universal Music France, said: "We are incredibly honoured to be able to draw on the unique expertise of Binetou Sylla and her team to bring new talent from French-speaking Africa to Africa, France and the rest of the world. In the wake of recent worldwide successes by English-speaking artists, I'm absolutely convinced that the French-speaking scene will also without doubt shine on the world stage, with Def Jam Africa as the spearhead!"

Franck Kacou, managing director, Universal Music Africa, said: “Having launched and developed the Def Jam Africa brand in this region of the continent, I'm delighted to see it take on a new dimension through this partnership. I know Binetou's passion and expertise and combined with the skills of our Capitol and Universal Music France teams, this will only create more opportunities and success for the many talents from French-speaking Africa.”

Alexandre Kirchhoff, managing director, Capitol Label Services, said: "French-speaking Sub-Saharan Africa is the biggest growth engine in Africa and remains a world-class centre of musical talent that has greatly influenced and impacted French music past and present, thanks in particular, to the diasporas. The Capitol team in France is delighted to partner with Binetou Sylla. Our shared vision knows no boundaries, and we look forward to this exciting and what will be an extremely productive musical adventure."


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