Universal Music Group (UMG) is set to branch into the Western Africa market – with its sights on Nigeria – and among the first marquee label signings include highly acclaimed artists such as Tekno, Vanessa Mdee, Mr. Eazi and Stonebwoy.
In a statement to newsrooms, UMG says their new division based in Lagos will be under the leadership of seasoned music executive Ezegozie Eze Jr, who has been named General Manager.
Eze will report to Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The label has signed a host of Nigerian-born artists including WurlD, Odunsi (the Engine), Tay Iwar, and Ghanaian-born artists Cina Soul and Stonebwoy.
In addition, the label has recently signed marquee deals with acclaimed Banku singer and songwriter Mr Eazi for pan-African releases, co-signed Nigerian artist Tekno in conjunction with Island Records UK and Tanzanian singer and songwriter Vanessa Mdee in conjunction with AfroForce1 Records/Universal Music Central Europe/Universal Music South Africa.
These two signings mark the first time UMG labels from the two continents have combined to sign and release African artists globally, with other artist partnerships in the pipeline with UMG labels from around the world.
“In recent years there has been an increase in visibility of Nigerian and Ghanaian music and its influence on contemporary music around the world. Eze and his team are perfectly placed to support, nurture and help develop artists and musicians from the region, whilst creating opportunities for new talent from the region to reach the widest possible audience,” Sipho Dlamini, the MD Universal music South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, said while making the announcement.
Eze stated that: “I am delighted to be officially launching Universal Music’s Nigerian division at such an exciting time for African music around the world. The world’s largest music company opening an office within the region is a huge statement of belief in our local music talent.”
“The signings we have already made show our ambition to help our artists reach the widest global audience and we are looking forward to working closely with our UMG label partners around the world to make that happen.”