Universal Music Group is launching a new division focusing on French-speaking African countries, based in Côte d’Ivoire. It will be led by industry veteran Moussa Soumbounou, who’ll report in to Universal Music France CEO Olivier Nusse.
Cameroon, Congo, Mali, Senegal and Togo will be among the countries falling under the new division’s wing, with plans to sign local artists and distribute their music across the region, but also to other parts of the world. It’s interesting that live music is a big part of this too.
Besides Soumbounou’s background as a live-music promoter, UMG says it has been organising African tours for French-speaking artists as well as French tours for African artists in recent months, and that it is “working closely in partnership with parent company Vivendi, and several of its divisions including CanalOlympia, Vivendi Village, Canal+ and Havas to support and develop the live music industry ecosystem throughout the continent”.
The news comes amid growing interest in Africa’s potential from the western music industry, as well as from streaming services in the west and east alike: read our recent Africa feature from the Midem conference for more background. One theme there was the independence of many of the music scenes across the continent, so western major labels will have to craft their strategies carefully if they want to make an impact.