Global brands race to claim stake in Africa’s music and talent

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Global media and music brands are racing to claim a stake in Africa’s music market as internet and smartphone penetration popularize artists and genres far beyond Africa’s borders.

Companies are taking note of global interest, with Universal Music Group launching Virgin Music Africa Label & Artist Services in June for independent African labels and artists.

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The service will digitize out-of-print music catalogues to tap into the growing market for the sounds and chart-toppers of the continent.

Music streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Boomplay are also entering the market with dedicated and expanded offerings and services.

The interest from global companies is coming as African artists headline festivals and concerts such as, Afro Nation in Portugal and Africolor in France and genres including Afrobeat, Rhumba and Amapiano are topping charts.

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Franck-Alcide Kacou, managing director of Universal Music Africa and the new Virgin Music Africa Label, said it has over 15,000 music titles, 50 partner labels and around 100 artists from 25 countries.

The artists include Senegal’s M’balax maestro Youssou Ndour, Congo’s Lokua Kanza, Magic System from Ivory Coast and Cabo Snoop from Angola.

Kacou added that the service will digitize and distribute African music currently in vinyl, cassette or CD formats to reach today’s younger audience.

“It’s a real opportunity for countries that are also experiencing this digital transformation to integrate all this heritage into the cultural offer that is made on platforms,” Kacou told Reuters in Abidjan.

He said the service will support independent labels in digital distribution who are looking for a wider network.

“Finding a producer on the continent and distributing cultural works is a real challenge for many talents, most of whom do not receive fair remuneration for their musical works,” Kacou said.

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