Following their much-publicised signing of Nigerian pop star Davido earlier this year, Sony Music Entertainment has announced that it has opened a branch of operations for the West African region. Establishing the new office, which is located in Lagos, Nigeria, is part of the company’s plans to own a larger presence across the continent.
Sony Music already had a considerable presence in South Africa, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The company also signed Kenyan reggae artist Redsan, and is business talks in the Kenyan capital Nairobi—the city expected to be Sony’s foothold in the East African region.
"Expansion in Africa has been part of our strategy for several years," said Adam Granite, Sony's President for Northern and Eastern Europe as well as Africa. "As the region continues to grow, we see significant opportunities to market the incredible local talent in Africa to the rest of the world as well as import our repertoire and exploit it on emerging digital platforms."
Heading the new West African office is Michael Ugwu, who has had experience working with streaming and download platform iROKING, and Freeme Digital, a digital distribution company.
Prior to the opening of the West African office, Sony had made incursions into the Nigerian pop music industry, with a history of licencing, promotion and other deals stretching to 2012 when Sony’s RCA Africa label signed on Nigerian star D’Banj. At the time, Managing Director Sean Watson said the signing D’Banj was “a seminal event for us at Sony Music Entertainment Africa”.
In between deals with D’Banj and Davido, Nigerian producer Leriq, whose debut album was released last year, also inked a deal with the company. Sony has also been rumoured to be in the process of signing Ghanaian duo Reggie 'N' Bollie, who made it to the finals of the X-Factor UK reality show last year.
With Sony's major-label rivals Universal recently including Africa among its markets that are “high-potential” and signing Nigerian singer Burna Boy, it would appear that the major players in the global music industry are increasingly aware of the reach of contemporary music on the continent and are keen to connect - and cash in. Last year rapper Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal courted a number of African artists, with Nigerian rapper Ice Prince becoming the first artist from the continent to premiere exclusively on the service.
"We are really keen to partner with African artists to deliver local, African and global success stories,” said Watson about the new deal. “With over 800 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa, the African continent is a market with huge potential for local artists wanting to expand their horizons."