Afrobeats! Warner Music Group Inks Deal With Nigeria’s Chocolate City

Afrobeats, yes that contemporary urban sound-not to be confused by Fela’s Afrobeat-is one of the biggest and most popular sounds out of Africa and richly so from West Africa that has taken the world by storm.

Many publications especially from the west blanket-ly refer to any urban sound from Africa as ‘Afrobeats’, well this is wrong in many ways, but that’s a story for another of those rainy days that you’ll need a read that looks to explore a misinterpreted musical genre, then after the last full-stop you’ll be left with that oddly awkward grainy flavor in your mouth, only a cup of coffee will neutralize.

Anyway, back to the Afrobeats where the Warner Music Group has chosen to look to as it seeks to expand and strategize for the future. First of all Africa is the future of global business, now if you argue with this statement, with respect to music, you need to read the trends that are shaping popular music globally, if your premises in any format miss the African contemporary sound in it then most likely your argument would be invalid.

Afrobeats as a genre as the global pop culture media seem to define it, is a sound that has attracted many fans from the African continent and beyond. We have seen many artists from across Africa attempt to build their productions with a taste of the Afrobeats, a genre that fuses hip-hop, pop, dance and inspired by the Afrobeat sound created by the iconic Nigerian artist and activist Fela Kuti.

The growth of the genre has translated to financial success and thus viewed as a lucrative venture for the global music giants looking to expand their reach and influence and shaping the future of the global music industry.

On Thursday, Warner Music Group (WMG) and Nigeria’s independent music label Chocolate City announced a first of its kind partnership which will have artists signed with Chocolate City become part of the Warner Music Group catalog and the same time the American multinational entertainment and record label conglomerate will take on distribution and artist services through ADA, the Warner Music Group’s Independent label services division.

“The Chocolate City team will continue to develop local artists and support the management of WMG’s global superstars across Sub Saharan Africa, including a strategic, reciprocal marketing agreement with WMG South Africa. WMG will also provide financial support for Chocolate City to help achieve its mission of signing and developing the best local talent in this fast-growing market” The statement from Warner Music Group read.

Warner Music Group is following on the footsteps of the likes of Universal Music Group and Sony who have already ventured into the Afrobeats bandwagon.

“Nigeria is one of the most exciting music markets in the world and Chocolate City’s trailblazing role in it over the years cannot be overstated. The label will provide us with valuable insight on best practices in the region, as well as on-ground expertise in scouting and developing emerging talent. Our partnership allows for a free exchange of ideas and music that will promote and support local artists, exemplifying WMG’s primary objective in determining our approach to emerging markets.” Temi Adeniji, Warner Group’s Director, International Strategy and Operations said.

Chocolate City’s artist list includes the likes of Femi Kuti, four-time Grammy nominated son of the Afrobeat pioneer Fela; hip-hop artist and record producer M.I. Abaga, Afro beats sensation Dice Ailes, Nosa, ClassiQ, Ruby Gyang and promising new acts Blaqbonez, C Kay and Street Billionaires. In addition, Chocolate City’s catalogue includes celebrated acts such as Brymo, Ice Prince, and Jesse Jagz.

“At Chocolate City, we have always been passionate about discovering and developing the best talent across Africa and giving them a platform for global growth. The partnership with Warner Music Group is unique in the sense that our clients get the best of both worlds – curated and bespoke services by a highly experienced team across Africa and a dedicated global team to further push their music and their brands.” Chocolate City Group CEO Audu Maikori spoke of the partnership.

According to Warner Music Group statement, Sub-Saharan Africa is an exciting emerging market for music companies. It has a largely youthful population of some 1.1 billion people with increasing access to streaming services thanks to rising smartphone penetration. At the same time, the popularity of Afrobeat and local hip-hop is surging worldwide, attracting the attention of international artists and producers.   

This would be the second deal that Warner Music Group is engaging in with an African entity after last month’s signing of a partnership with top African music streaming service Boomplay.

Source: Warner Music Group

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