UMG Continues Its African Expansion With ‘Def Jam Africa’

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Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo Credit: Clodagh Da Paixao

Universal Music Group (UMG) has continued its long-running expansion and investment in Africa by establishing Def Jam Africa.

UMG officials announced the high-profile development this morning. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Lagos, Nigeria, Def Jam Africa will work to sign talented artists from throughout Africa, besides helping to further promote its existing roster of professionals.

Presently, some of Africa’s most prominent acts, including South Africa’s Cassper Nyovest and Nigeria’s Larry Gaaga, are signed to Def Jam Africa.

Addressing the launch of Def Jam Africa, Sipho Dlamini (who is currently leading the label), said, “It is a historic achievement that we’re now able to bring this iconic label to Africa, to create an authentic and trusted home for those who aspire to be the best in hip-hop, Afrobeats, and trap. Together, we will build a new community of artists, that will push the boundaries of hip-hop from Africa, to reach new audiences globally.”

Def Jam Records interim chairman and CEO Jeff Harleston, for his part, stated: “Def Jam is a globally recognized brand, synonymous with excellence in hip-hop, and we enthusiastically welcome the launch of Def Jam Africa as an opportunity for audiences worldwide to discover the incredibly talented hip-hop artists emerging from across the continent.”

More than ever, music industry companies and professionals are turning their attention to highly lucrative emerging markets. For instance, 2020’s first five months have seen Warner Music Group (WMG) open offices in Vietnam and India, besides inking an investment deal with one of Africa’s leading digital music platforms, Africori.

In 2018, Universal Music closed a multiyear licensing agreement with Boomplay, an African music-streaming service that boasts more than 62 million users. And last year, the Big Three record label partnered with Nigeria’s uduX Music.