Universal Music Group (UMG) has unveiled an expansion of its leadership team in Sub-Saharan Africa, with three new appointments.
A press release underlined UMG’s commitment to supporting the growth of Africa’s domestic music ecosystems, as the company pledges to build on its operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco and South Africa.
Sipho Dlamini (above) has been promoted to CEO, Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa and will continue to oversee all of UMG’s operations within English-speaking Africa. Dlamini joined UMG in 2016, focusing on growing UMG’s African infrastructure and increasing the visibility of African music around the world while achieving artist success in South Africa.
The new role will see Dlamini continue to work with UMG’s EVP, market development Adam Granite to help artists signed to Universal Music Africa reach international audiences.
Dlamini serves as a member of UMG’s Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC) and is executive chair of its Global Committee.
Elouise Kelly has been appointed chief operating officer, Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. She will be based in Johannesburg and will report to Dlamini. Kelly arrives from advertising and media agency Ogilvy, where she held the position of managing director, South Africa.
Chinedu Okeke has been named managing director, Universal Music Nigeria. Okeke’s remit is to continue the development and expansion of UMG’s operations in Nigeria and other English-speaking markets in West Africa. He will be based in Lagos, Nigeria and will report to Dlamini. Previoiusly, Okeke established himself as a business and live music entrepreneur, founding Eclipse Live and Eclipse Brand Agency. He is also the founder and executive producer of Nigeria’s Gidi Culture Festival, and a founding trustee of Echo Music & Arts Foundation.
There has never been a more exciting time for African music around the world
Dlamini, Kelly and Okeke will work closely with UMG’s French-speaking operations in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon and other markets on the continent, which are led by Franck Kacou, Directeur General, Universal Music Africa.
Each territory will focus on domestic A&R and talent development, giving acts access to support across marketing, promotion, brand partnerships, recording facilities and live music promotion and booking through UMG’s ULive Africa division.
Adam Granite said: “I am thrilled to announce these strategic appointments, as we look to further develop our domestic infrastructure and label rosters within Africa. Most integral to achieving our long-term ambitions, is to build a strong leadership team on the ground, with deep foundations in each country to help grow a dynamic ecosystem for all to benefit in the future.”
He added: “Over the past few years, Sipho has shown great leadership, commitment and vision for music in Africa, helping UMG to introduce new talent to audiences around the world and identify opportunities to lead the industry in licensing and supporting new platforms to reach African music fans. Elouise and Chin both bring welcome new skills, proven entrepreneurship and important leadership experience that will only serve to bolster UMG’s position as the market-leader across Africa.”
This will bolster UMG’s position as the market-leader across Africa
Sipho Dlamini said: “There has never been a more exciting time for African music around the world, as it continues to influence and inspire culture and creativity, whilst reaching a wider audience globally each day through streaming. I am delighted to welcome both Elouise and Chin to the UMG family, their unique skills and experiences will only help to further establish UMG as a bedrock within the African music community, that will continue to put the interests and opportunities for artists first and help elevate African talent to new levels of success at home and abroad.”
In 2018, UMG became the first major label to licence its catalogue to Boomplay, Africa’s largest local streaming platform. In 2020, UMG released albums by a range of African stars including Tiwa Savage, Nasty C, Sauti Sol and Tekno. Also last year, UMG unveiled a partnership between Aristokrat Records and Universal Music France and launched Def Jam Africa.