Sony Music made a trendsetting move three years ago, when it opened an office in Lagos, Nigeria to serve as the new hub of its on-the-ground operations in West Africa.
Universal Music Group followed suit last summer, launching its own Lagos office under the Universal Music Nigeria brand, led by Ezegozie Eze Jr.
(Interesting to note that an exec heavily involved in both of these launches was Adam Granite, who joined Universal from Sony in 2017 and today heads up UMG’s efforts in territories including China, India, Sub-Saharan and North Africa and the Middle East.)
Now, a major change is underway at Sony’s West Africa HQ.
When the company landed in Nigeria in 2016, the role of local head (General Manager) for Sony Music West Africa was taken by respected local entrepreneur Michael Ugwu.
Under Ugwu’s charge, Sony Music West Africa has signed notable artist deals including those with Davido and Wizkid, and has seen Ycee’s Juice become the most-streamed track in Sony Music Africa’s history.
Ugwu stood down as GM at the end of last month. In a farewell note to industry peers and colleagues, obtained by MBW, he said he was “super proud to have anchored the first major label in Nigeria, validating the massive efforts of the independent sector in Nigeria’s meteoric music business growth”.
“I am excited to join the SME team and I am looking forward to diversifying the company’s business interests in West Africa.”
Oluwaseun ‘Banko’ Lloyd, Sony Music (pictured)
Moving in the other direction is Oluwaseun ‘Banko’ Lloyd, a close associate of Davido – and, indeed, the former President of Davido Music Worldwide.
Banko now heads up Sony Music Entertainment West Africa as Artist and Business Development Manager, reporting to Sean Watson, MD, Sony Music Entertainment Africa.
Banko told MBW: “I am excited to join the SME team and I am looking forward to diversifying the company’s business interests in West Africa. Nigeria is one of the fastest evolving African markets and we are ready to develop new exciting talent and cultivating exploitation opportunities with our digital partners in the region.”
Sean Watson added: “We’re really excited about working with someone as integrated with the Nigerian music scene as Banko. His new focused role will enable him to hone in on key areas of our business, bringing fresh new talent to our label and building innovative business models with local and international partners.”
“In this day and age of opportunity, awareness and artist direct opportunities, unless the major labels deploy considerable resources to a market like Nigeria they will not be a dramatic value-add to the ecosystem.”
In his farewell note, Michael Ugwu said: “I’m fortunate to have met and delivered for some superstar artistes but I’m even more proud to have met, worked with and learned from some of the best executives in the global music business.
“I’ve now participated at almost every segment of the modern music industry value chain and continue to learn a lot about these relationships and structures.
“In this day and age of opportunity, awareness and artist direct opportunities, unless the major labels deploy considerable resources to a market like Nigeria they will not be a dramatic value-add to the ecosystem in any way shape or form.”
Warner Music Group made its own play in Nigeria earlier this year by partnering with Lagos-based label Chocolate City.
Another Lagos-based independent label, Mavin Records, secured a multi-million dollar investment in January from Kupanda Holdings.
Kupanda Holdings is a joint venture between pan-Africa investment company Kupanda Capital and TPG Growth.Music Business Worldwide