The latest western music company with big ambitions for Africa is Empire. The independent label, distributor and publisher has launched its Empire Africa subsidiary, run by a trio of executives: Ezegozie Eze Jr, Kareem Mobalaji and Titilope Adesanya. Its main office will be in Lagos, Nigeria, with plans to operate across countries including Ghana, South Africa and the Ivory Coast.
The move builds on Empire’s launch a year ago of a US-based arm focusing on North Africa and West Asia. The boss of that division, Suhel Nafar, outlined his views on how western music companies can be successful in Africa at last year’s Midem Africa conference.
“Have local people, or have people who lived locally or somebody who’s familiar with the culture,” he said. “A lot of companies – labels or any companies – you would see a western person who has lived there for a little bit running the company, and that already is not localising it… Let us build it for you. Don’t come from a western world telling us what to do.”
With Empire Africa, the company is doubling down on that strategy.