Nick Ghelakis and Nicole Thomas to head up Virgin Music Group South Africa

Nick Ghelakis and Nicole Thomas to head up Virgin Music Group South Africa

Virgin Music Group has named Nick Ghelakis and Nicole Thomas as co-country managers of Virgin Music Group, South Africa, which is headquartered in Johannesburg. 

The executives will lead the organisation’s continued expansion in the high-growth region following the passing of Chris Ghelakis, one of the most successful independent music executives in South Africa and former managing director of VMG South Africa. Ghelakis’ distribution company, Electromode, was acquired by Ingrooves in 2021 and began rebranding as Virgin Music Group in late 2023.

“Nicole and Nick both bring with them decades of experience in the South African music market, characterised by a fierce devotion to local artists and a real vision to spread the country’s incredible music far beyond its own borders,” said JT Myers, co-CEO of Virgin Music Group. “Their leadership ensures continuity as we continue to grow this hugely important music market both within the country and around the world.”

Like his father before him, Nick Ghelakis began his career as an artist, winning a South African Music Award (SAMA) when he was just 19. After studying at the University of South Africa and attaining a BCom in Accounting, he began working as a studio engineer.

He spent time in London working for PriceWaterhouseCoopers. In 2010 he began a lengthy tenure as a digital marketer at Electromode in Johannesburg. 

“I am so proud to be continuing my father’s legacy here in South Africa,” said Ghelakis. “Working with Nicole and the incredible global team at Virgin Music Group will empower us to nurture and help so many African artists attain their dreams on the international stage.”

Their leadership ensures continuity as we continue to grow this hugely important music market both within the country and around the world

JT Myers

Nicole Thomas most recently served as general manager of Electromode, a position she has held since 2017, transitioning to Ingrooves Africa in 2021 and then Virgin Music Group last year. 

Prior to Electromode, Thomas worked in studio management at SCR Studios in Johannesburg, overseeing client relations, marketing and promotions, business development and operations. In an earlier stint at Electromode, she served as executive assistant to Electromode founder Chris Ghelakis. She began her career in finance for Primedia Music in 2001.

“Working alongside Nick Ghelakis to carry on the legacy of his father Chris Ghelakis and his great company Electromode, which is now further empowered by Virgin Music Group, one of the most respected music business brands in the world, is really a dream come true,” said Nicole Thomas. “I’m looking forward to working with JT, Nat Pastor, Michael Roe and the rest of the Virgin Music Group team to create the very best opportunities both for our local artist community as well as the amazing repertoire we work with around the world.”

“South Africa is without a doubt one of the most exciting music markets in the world,” said Michael Roe, managing director of Virgin Music Group Africa, Middle East, and Asia (AMEA). “Nick and Nicole have deep ties to the creative community along with the ambition and vision to create opportunities for local artists around the world. Our South African business is in good hands under their leadership.”

In the past 12 months, Virgin Music Group South Africa has collaborated with partners Dlala Records, releasing the most popular song of the year in the country last year with iPlan by Dlala Thukzin featuring Sykes & Zaba in September 2023, driving more than 50 million streams globally. 

Mina Nawa by Soa Mattrix featuring Happy Jazzman & Emotionz DJ was their first international release, remixed by French DJ Francie Mercier for the European market. A further remix by UK DJs Black House helped it to reach an even wider global audience.


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