Outgoing SAMRO boss to take the reigns at Universal

Following recent reports that Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) CEO Sipho Dlamini will be stepping down at the end of March 2016, the Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced that Dlamini has been appointed Managing Director of Universal Music South Africa and English-speaking sub-Saharan Africa. 

Sipho Dlamini will take over as Managing Director of Universal Music in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sipho Dlamini will take over as Managing Director of Universal Music in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dlamini has been described as a highly respected figure in the music industry with outstanding credentials ranging from running record labels, overseeing artist management and setting up recording studios in South Africa as well as in Asia and America. During his three-year tenure at SAMRO, the society implemented new operating systems, saw increased revenue collection from licensees and improved composer and publisher benefits

Dlamini will replace Randall Abrahams, who recently announced his decision to step down from his role at Universal Music South Africa to focus fully on his wide-ranging business and media interests. 

Speaking of his new position, Dlamini said: “My thanks to Randall Abrahams for his commitment to the growth of the Universal Music Group brand. I’m honoured and humbled to lead the world’s premier music company on our continent at this exciting time for Africa in the music business. I am looking forward to working with a great team and continuing to build on the current success of the company and our artists.” 

Based in Johannesburg, Dlamini will report to Adrian Cheesley, senior vice president of Universal Music Group. Cheesley said: “I am thrilled that Sipho has agreed to join Universal Music. His broad creative experience and artist relationships, combined with his ability to lead a high performance business, make him an exceptional choice as leader for our dynamic Sub-Saharan African operations.”

Abrahams explained the reason for his resignation in a statement this week: “It’s been an honour to lead this company and to work with its incredible artists over the last few years. Today’s communications and technology innovation means that African artists and music are moving swiftly on their inexorable journey across the continent and ultimately the globe. 

“Having so enjoyed forging an integrated strategy for Universal Music in the company of the some of the best music industry professionals, I feel it is an opportune moment to focus my attention on a number of diverse creative projects. As a massive music and media fan, I will always be involved on these fronts. I know that the team at Universal Music will continue to take the great business forward,” said Abrahams.

Since taking over in 2012, Abrahams has overseen hit projects from domestic stars including Black CoffeeKelly Khumalo, Zahara and Mafikizolo, as well as numerous international artists. He has also been in the public eye as a long-time presenter of the TV talent search Idols.

In August 2015, Vivendi, owners of the Universal Music Group, announced an ambitious five-year plan to invest in Africa, highlighting the continent as a key area for growth.

Rival major Sony Music Entertainment has also recently upped its game in Africa, opening an office for West Africa in Lagos, Nigeria.

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