Warner Music Group Acquires Moscow-Based Zhara Music — Creates ‘Atlantic Records Russia’ Overnight

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Moscow, where Warner Music’s just-established Atlantic Records Russia is located. Photo Credit: Astemir Almov

Warner Music Group has acquired Zhara Music and renamed the Moscow-based indie label Atlantic Records Russia.

Warner Music Group unveiled the buyout in a formal release this morning, and Zhara Music announced the deal as well as the rebranding in a brief YouTube video. (The latter account has already been renamed “Atlantic Records Russia.”) According to WMG’s release, the less than three-year-old Zhara “has become a hugely significant player in the fast-growing Russian music industry,” with signed acts including EMIN, HammAli & Navai, Zomb/Зомб, and Morgenshtern, to name just some.

Moreover, these and other Zhara Music creators “are already popular in markets such as China and the Middle East,” the text indicates, and the just-minted Atlantic Records Russia will be headed by Zhara co-founder Bahh Tee. EMIN, another Zhara co-founder, “will now focus on his own business projects” – albeit while remaining part of Atlantic Russia’s artist roster.

The involved parties haven’t publicly specified the financial terms of the deal, but the release notes that Atlantic Records Russia will have a “standalone office,” independent of that which Warner Music Russia occupies. Nevertheless, WMG Russia’s general director, Alexander Blinov, “will provide strategic leadership for Atlantic Records Russia,” and the WMG Russia team is set to handle all “back office functions, such as legal and financial support, catalog registration and content distribution.”

Addressing the buyout and the establishment of Atlantic Records Russia in a statement, Bahh Tee said: “EMIN and I have been on an incredible journey since we founded Zhara less than three years ago. We knew fans loved our music and were hungry for new discoveries, but even we were surprised by how quickly things took off!

“Becoming part of the Warner Music family will help take our support for our artists to the next level both here and internationally. It’s a landmark day for me and my colleagues – we’ve really come of age.”

Alexander Blinov stated in part: “I’m delighted that Bahh Tee has agreed to launch Atlantic Records in Russia – connecting the world renowned brand to a whole new generation of artists from across Russia and beyond. It’s going to be a wild ride!”

Last July, Spotify expanded into Russia and 12 other European countries, and the Stockholm-based streaming service said in its Q3 2020 earnings report that the nation of over 144 million residents had “been our most successful new market launch to date and represented the largest portion of subscriber outperformance for the quarter.”

Plus, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) revealed in its Global Music Report yesterday that the European music industry had grown by 3.5 percent in 2020, against 9.5 percent growth for Asia (which would have turned in an astonishing 29.9 percent YoY growth if not for the comparatively modest expansion experienced by Japan, the second-largest music market in the world).