Universal Music Group is gearing up to extend its reach into Western Africa. The music label powerhouse is reportedly launching a new division in Nigeria, Billboard reports.
Universal Music Nigeria will reportedly be based in Lagos and led by Ezegozie Eze Jr., who previously held executive roles at the South African-based television channel, Channel O and Nigerian independent label, Empire Mates Entertainment. He is also the founder of the Pan-African creative companies, Republic 54, Alore Group and Duma Collective. Eze Jr. will report to Sipho Dlamini, managing director of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The label's first signings include Nigerian singer-songwriter Mr. Eazi, Nigerian artist-producer Tekno, Tanzanian singer-songwriter Vanessa Mdee (she is also represented by Universal Music Central Europe and South Africa), and many others.
"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 added that the launch of Universal Music Nigeria comes at "such an exciting time for African music" and was a "huge statement of belief in our local music talent."
In addition to enlisting Nigerian artists, UMG will also cover other African markets including the country of Gambia. Universal Music Nigeria will open a recording studio in Lagos to support its new operations. Artists signed to the imprint will also have access to Universal's global marketing, promotion, and distribution network.