The Managing Director of Universal Music South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, Randall Abrahams, is leaving the major – at least the fourth top-level exec to part ways with UMG in the last month.
Abrahams (pictured) joined UMG in 2012 following the retirement of Harry Voerman, who led Universal Music South Africa for two decades.
As well as completing the integration of EMI’s South African operation into Universal, Abrahams was a key figure in the development of UMG’s very own streaming service, The Kleek, which launched on mobiles across Africa in 2013.
Today’s news comes in the same week that UMG announced its global head of merchandise, Tom Bennett, was leaving the company.
When UMG boss Lucian Grainge re-signed his deal with Vivendi last summer, the French media empire highlighted Randall Abrahams’ jurisdiction of Africa as a key area for music income growth before 2020.
Universal has been undergoing a sustained period of restructuring since then, with the focus currently on Universal Music Group International in London, where 50 jobs have been affected.
Abrahams will remain as UMG South Africa boss until April 30, with Universal expected to announce a successor shortly.
The exec is known to millions in South Africa as a judge on the Idols South Africa and SA’s Got Talent television shows – on which he carries a reputation as something of a ‘Mr Nasty’ character.
Adrian Cheesley, Senior Vice President of Universal Music Group International, said: “We’re very appreciative of Randall’s leadership, having joining Universal Music at a key transition time for the company and indeed for the South African music industry.
“African artists and music are moving swiftly on their inexorable journey across the continent and ultimately the globe.”
Randall Abrahams, UMG
“He has helped position the company for continued creative and commercial growth and we wish him the very best in the next chapter of his career.”
Abrahams commented, “It’s been an honour to lead this company and work with its incredible artists over the last few years.
“Today’s communications and technology innovation mean 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.
After Universal, Abrahams says he will focus on his business and media interests, including potential television production projects.
Abrahams has overseen successful projects at UMG from domestic artists including Kelly Khumalo, Black Coffee, Elvis Blue, Zahara, Mafikizolo and Revolution and international artists such as Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Sam Smith and Mumford and Sons.
In addition to integrating EMI into Universal Music in South Africa, Abrahams signed agreements and developed partnerships with artists, labels and consumer brands in countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Angola.
Other recent high-profile news of exec exits from UMG has included the boss of Polydor in the UK, Ferdy Unger-Hamilton, who is believed to be leaving the company later this year to establish a JV with Sony Music UK.
Meanwhile, the long-term Marketing and A&R Director of Universal Music Austria, Peter Draxl, reportedly left his post at the end of last year.Music Business Worldwide