Universal Music signs first Namibian label

Gazza Music Production (GMP) has become the first Namibian recording label to secure a distribution and publishing deal with the internationally acclaimed Universal Music Group South Africa. The Namibian label joins the list of African music giants to sign to Universal, including Nigerian superstars P-Square, who signed in 2012, and Burna Boy, who signed earlier this year, as well as numerous South African acts like Mafikizolo and Revolution.

Gazza at the Universal offices in Johannesburg. Photo: Facebook
Gazza at the Universal offices in Johannesburg. Photo: Facebook

The deal means that GMP has become a global contender in the music industry, with a platform to sign any artist in the world for distributing and publishing purposes. In addition, all artists signed under GMP Records will have their work distributed and made available to all purchasers and sellers of the mother company, making their music available in outlets such as Musica, Music Moods and all digital platforms affiliated with the Universal Music Group.

Founded in 2004 by popular Namibian artist Gazza, GMP Records is one of the most successful labels in the southern African nation. Streetkids, a group of young rappers and dancers, was the first to sign to the record label. In 2005, the label signed Sunny Boy and later Aunty Sousa. Today GMP is one of the most successful record companies in Namibia. Gazza (aka Lazarus Karandu Shiimi) remains Namibia’s biggest star, which was confirmed after he cleaned up at the 2015 Namibian Music Awards in May, winning the Best Male Artist of the Year trophy, among others, as well as hosting the event.  Besides releasing all of Gazza’s albums, GMP has also signed artists such as D-Jay, Roger, Black Sheep and Luvy.

Gazza this week announced on his Facebook page: “This is obviously a dream come true. This is the paradigm shift we have been striving for. More than 12 years in the Namibian music industry would be useless if nothing great came from it, and this is clearly something great not only for GMP but for the Namibian music industry as a whole… All in all we as GMP are very excited for this new venture.

“This means that GMP will be able to create that platform for Namibian music to compete on a global scale. We believe that there is so much raw, uncut talent in our country that needs to be exposed to the international music industry. So we shall be the catalyst in this regard. We plan on focusing specifically on upcoming artists but also already established artists,” added Gazza.

The historic occasion for GMP and the Namibian music industry at large took place on 2 June in Johannesburg after various talks between the two parties. According to Gazza, the majority of the directors, including managing director Randall Abrahams (also known as a judge on South African Idols) were present at the signing and were very receptive towards signing a Namibian label.

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