Universal Music Group has launched Virgin Music Label & Artist Services in Africa.
The division will focus on supporting the next wave of independent artists and labels from the region.
UMG said the move will “further expand the reach of music culture from across the continent to the vast African diaspora, as well as to new fans and audiences around the world”.
The division launches with in excess of 15,000 titles in its catalogue, with more than 50 label partners from 25 countries, including Kesi Publishing, Blue Diamond, Hope Music Groupe, Hitlab, Hiquest and Yaye Boye.
It includes releases from more than 100 of Africa’s leading artists including Youssou Ndour (pictured), Touré Kunda, Lokua Kanza, Magic System, Werrason, Serge Beynaud, Innos B, Debordo, Sagbohan Danialou, Cabo Snoop and Fanicko.
Virgin will also make historical and often long out of print African music catalogues available digitally for the first time.
Virgin Music arrives in Africa under the leadership of Universal Music Africa’s current director of international development, Guylaine Clery, and head of A&R Félix Pea, who will also serve as co-directors of the new division. They will report to Franck Kacou, managing director, Universal Music Africa.
Franck Kacou said: “Our vision for Virgin Music in Africa is based on an observation that African cultural heritage has not yet fully found its place in the digital world and on DSPs globally. Indeed, with some of these services rarely existing in certain territories, this heritage is unequally represented. Our ambition is to make African music, a showcase of all that Africa and its diaspora can offer the world!
“We intend to give new life to forgotten songs, our investigation will go as far as digitising them to make them accessible to as many people as possible, everywhere in the world. The creation of this label services [division] will make it possible to preserve, distribute, structure, and promote the African musical heritage of yesterday, today and tomorrow, whilst also providing global distribution services to Africa’s most exciting artists, labels and entrepreneurs.”
Olivier Nusse, CEO & president of Universal Music France, said: “Launching Virgin Music LAS on the continent is in line with our long-term vision, both in terms of our relationship with labels and artists whose talent shines outside Africa, and in terms of developing our activities in this booming region of the world. Our expertise and dedicated teams, combined with the Virgin worldwide network, offer a unique platform and range of opportunities, but above all, tailor-made support for the continent's labels and exciting talents.”