Universal Music Group is an American global music corporation that is a subsidiary of the French media conglomerate Vivendi. UMG’s global corporate headquarters are located in Santa Monica, California.
In a bid to bolster its West African operations, Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced the launch of Universal Music Nigeria. The new division will operate from Lagos and will be headed by a seasoned music executive Ezegozie Eze Jr., who has been named General Manager of Universal Music Nigeria.
Eze and his team will support artistes from Nigeria, Ghana, and Gambia throughout the continent and beyond, utilizing Universal Music Group’s global networks for wider discovery, marketing, promotion and distribution. Eze, has previously held roles at Channel O Television, Empire Mates Entertainment (Banky W & WizKid) and was a founder of Pan-African creative companies, Republic 54, Alore Group, and Duma Collective. He will report to Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The label has signed Nigerian-born artistes including WurlD, Odunsi (the Engine), Tay Iwar, and Ghanaian-born artistes 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,” Dlamini said.
“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.”
Eze commented, “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.”
This new division will work in partnership with existing UMG operations throughout the continent including Cote D’Ivoire, Morocco and alongside key markets across English-speaking Africa in order to offer artists comprehensive opportunities throughout the region and provide pan-African talent the best possible launch pad for wider international success.
Universal Music Group operates two successful live music companies within Africa, both of which will also have divisions within Universal Music Nigeria. Launched in 2017 in Johannesburg, UMG Live Africa has quickly become one of the leading talent booking agencies within the continent while ULive Africa was founded in 2016 and is engaged in staging, producing, programming and hosting large-scale live concerts and events throughout Africa including Runway Jazz, the innaugral African Comedy Awards, Lekki Sunsplash (30th Anniversary Edition), The Music Industry Awards in Nigeria, Afrochella and Baskets & Wine in Ghana, and Cocktails in the Wild in Uganda and Nigeria.
Universal Music Nigeria is currently developing plans to open a recording studio in Lagos in order to further advance the recording facilities available to local African talent. It will become UMG’s second fully purposed studio within Africa, alongside the existing facility in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Universal Music Group is also working closely in partnership with parent company Vivendi, and several of its divisions including CanalOlympia, Vivendi and Canal+ to support and develop the live music industry throughout the continent.