Reservoir has partnered with PopArabia, a music publisher and music rights consultancy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
The venture will see songwriter, recording artist, producer, and Reservoir executive Hussain "Spek" Yoosuf return to the company he founded in 2011.
Yoosuf has been appointed president of PopArabia and will lead Reservoir’s international and emerging markets strategy, including the signing and development of local talent and export of Arabic and international music around the world.
Launched with support from twofour54, PopArabia represents an estimated 60% of the market share of global music publishing repertoire and an array of recorded music in the region.
As part of this new joint venture, PopArabia will assume the role of sub-publisher for all of Reservoir’s copyrights in the area, including collecting and distributing royalties and licensing music for sync.
PopArabia recently cleared and licensed a sample for Coldplay’s Church. It has also licensed music for advertisement campaigns for Pepsi, KFC, and mobile operator Etisalat in the MENA region, and for Etihad Airlines worldwide, in 2019.
“It is great to see international companies like Reservoir investing in a homegrown startup, which is testament to the prosperous entrepreneurship scene in Abu Dhabi. We are delighted to welcome Reservoir into the fold and are excited about the opportunities the company will bring to the UAE,” said Michael Garin, CEO of twofour54 (pictured, right, with Spek). “Working in parallel, we will be able to build upon the unique strengths of each to the benefit of our creative community and content creators.
“These ventures are vital to providing Arab talent with a platform to share their content with the world while protecting their intellectual property. Reservoir investing in PopArabia is a testament to the incredible strides the industry has taken since the inception of twofour54, which instilled a culture of collaboration that is driven by the objective to build a sustainable media industry.”
“The UAE and the Middle East are becoming increasingly important global markets and we’re eager to expand our operations to include a renewed focus in these territories,” said Reservoir president and COO Rell Lafargue. “There are over 420 million Arabic speakers in the world, but less than 3% of content available online is in Arabic. We intend to grow that number through the signing, development, and export of local talent, while using PopArabia and Abu Dhabi as gateways to other emerging markets including India, Asia, and Africa. Our partnership will work both ways, as we will bring additional exposure of Western music to those emerging markets, also.”
Reservoir founder and CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi added: “Spek’s transition has come at a perfect time for Reservoir and PopArabia and we could not think of a more suitable entrepreneur for this role.”
“I’m thrilled about this next phase in the PopArabia story, and very bullish about the opportunities internationally for Reservoir,” said Spek. “It has been a pivotal five years working closely with Golnar, Rell, and the entire team through an incredible period of growth. I could not have found a better partner to help expand PopArabia and am excited to drive Reservoir’s next steps into new markets.”
He joined Reservoir in 2015 as its SVP of creative and A&R based out of New York.