Universal Music Group (UMG) has unveiled Virgin Music Label and Artist Services – a new dedicated distribution service for independent African artists and labels across the continent
The label boasts more than 15 000 titles, 50 label partners and over 100 artists from 25 African countries, including companies such as Kesi Publishing, Blue Diamond, Hope Music Groupe, Hitlab, Hiquest and Yaye Boye, with releases from artists such as Youssou Ndour, Touré Kunda and Lokua Kanza, among others.
The company promises to “deliver premium and flexible” artist and label services to the industry’s most dynamic entrepreneurs and independent talent globally, inspired and influenced by the spirit and ethos of the iconic Virgin Records.
“The division will focus on supporting the next wave of independent artists talents, labels, influencers, and entrepreneurs from the region with disruptive innovation and best in class services, to help deliver global success for its roster, and 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,” UMG said.
Virgin Music will be led by 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 effective immediately. They will report to Universal Music Africa managing director Franck Kacou.
“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 [digital service providers] globally,” Kacou said. “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.”
Universal Music France CEO and president Olivier Nusse 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.”
Virgin Music Label and Artist Services Africa is UMG’s latest division added to its global network. Since its launch in January 2021, the company has expanded to the US, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Western Balkans, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Australia and New Zealand, with further markets planned to launch in the coming months.