Earlier this week, Spotify dropped a reported $306 million on a “long-term” sponsorship deal with FC Barcelona. Now, Universal Music Group is preparing to “kick off” a “strategic global branding alliance” with Malaysian soccer club Johor Darul Ta’zim F.C. (JDT).
Universal Music South East Asia, which launched Def Jam South East Asia back in September of 2019, unveiled the “new strategic collaboration” with Johor Darul Ta’zim F.C. today. As part of the just-revealed deal, Snoop Dogg and Malaysian rapper Joe Flizzow (who is also president of Def Jam South East Asia) have collaborated on a single, “Pioneers,” which is now JDT’s “official 2022 theme song.”
The track is live on JDT’s YouTube account, and the video features highlights from the team’s games and post-victory celebrations, shots of the club’s seemingly dedicated fans, and Snoop Dogg himself, performing the song while wearing the Malaysian soccer club’s 2022 home jersey.
Universal Music Malaysia is set to serve as “the exclusive music distribution partner for the single,” and “Pioneer” has already made its way onto Spotify and other platforms besides the aforementioned YouTube.
In formal statements, both JDT’s owner, Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, and Universal Music Malaysia managing director Kim Lim acknowledged the possibility of future collaborations between UMG and the 50-year-old soccer team, which is currently ranked first in the Malaysia Super League.
“The beauty of this unique partnership with JDTFC is that we can provide breakthrough opportunities for local artist and upsurging homegrown brand with international superstar like Snoop Dogg,” Lim said in part. “I believe this collaboration can open up a whole new world of sounds, styles and opportunities between Universal Music Malaysia and JDTFC in future seasons.”
Universal Music’s sponsorship pact with Johor Darul Ta’zim F.C. arrives amid rapid music industry growth throughout Asia. Excluding Japan, the region’s music market achieved a 29.9 percent year-over-year expansion in 2020, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. (Incidentally, the IFPI yesterday opened a Southeast Asia regional office in Singapore.)
Following this nearly 30 percent jump, Warner Music Group in 2021 debuted Pan-Asian dance label Whet Records, rolled out Asian hip-hop label Asiatic Records, and inked a distribution partnership with Vietnam’s Yin Yang Media.
Meanwhile, Universal Music Group is coordinating with BTS agency Hybe to create two U.S.-based K-pop groups, and the leading label last year continued to aggressively expand into China – going as far as touting its relationship with CCP officials while working to establish a foothold in the nation’s quick-growing music industry.