Independent label, distributor, and publisher EMPIRE is opening a division in the US to focus on West Asia, North Africa and its diaspora.
To head up the territory, EMPIRE has hired Suhel Nafar as Vice President of Strategy & Market Development.
Nafar will be based in San Francisco at EMPIRE’s headquarters and joins the global team as Ghazi Shami’s company continues its overseas expansion.
Most recently, Nafar worked at Spotify as the Global Lead of Arab Music & Culture helping to build and launch in West Asia and North Africa, including an initiative of international curation for the largest cultures in the world.
Nafar also built Spotify’s Arab Culture Hub and its international programming strategy, curating more than 120 playlists including flagship playlists such as Yalla Today’s Top Hits, Arab X, Shisha Lounge and Global X.
In the 1990s, Nafar formed one of the first Arab Hip-Hop groups out of West Asia.
Additionally, in 2016, he helped launch Complex Snapchat Discover channel, the fastest growing platform in the history of Complex Networks.
To anchor the West Asia and North Africa region, EMPIRE has partnered Canadian-Lebanese superstar Massari, who recently released his record I See The Dream with Ali Gatie and in coordination with the World Food Programme.
In addition, EMPIRE is developing emerging Palestinian artist Elyanna, who released her self-titled debut EP in 2020, which has amassed millions of streams.
“After working on different sides of the music industry, researching artists growth and studying data, I saw that EMPIRE was where it’s at.”
“It’s the beginning of the future for the music industry, a genreless and borderless era,” said Suhel Nafar.
“Artists and fans are connected more than ever, it’s not about the language the song is in or the platform the music is delivered by but about the music, the artists, their story and their teams.
“After working on different sides of the music industry, researching artists growth and studying data, I saw that EMPIRE was where it’s at.
“They’re not just distribution, label or publishing company- they’re partners with their artists, supporting their growth and with a goal to change the music industry to be the best for creators and culture.”
“Suhel is the perfect fit to spearhead our efforts in the region and more importantly, bringing West Asian and North African music and culture to the world.”
Ghazi, CEO and Founder of EMPIRE, added: “When I started EMPIRE, the goal was always to bring music and culture to a global audience.
“Establishing our footprint in West Asia and North Africa is incredibly humbling for me as my family is Palestinian.
“Suhel is the perfect fit to spearhead our efforts in the region and more importantly, bringing West Asian and North African music and culture to the world.
“His knowledge and respect in the music community is unmatched and we look forward to having him on the team.”Music Business Worldwide