Republic Records China launches, as Universal expands its label operations in region

Tony Wen, Managing Director of Republic Records China

Republic Records is launching in China.

Republic Records China becomes the first international label division of the record company to launch worldwide.

The news of Republic’s launch in China comes as part of a significant expansion of UMG’s recorded music operations within China, with the establishment of a multi-label structure.

Republic Records China will sit alongside EMI China, PolyGram Records China, and Universal Music China, each operating independently with their own dedicated artist rosters, A&R and specialist marketing teams.

Universal said today that the expansion means it’s become “the first major music company to establish multiple frontline label operations across China”. (Don’t forget: Last year, Universal also announced the launch of a JV label with Tencent Music in China as part of its latest deal with the latter company.)

In the US, Republic Records, the label founded by brothers and chief executives Monte and Avery Lipman, is home to artists including Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Drake, The Weeknd and Post Malone.

Republic Records China will focus on signing and developing the next generation of Chinese music and C-pop talent from Mainland China, with a view to reaching a global audience.

The label will be based in Beijing and led by Tony Wen, who has been appointed Managing Director, Republic Records China, effective immediately and will report to Sunny Chang, Chairman & CEO, UMGC.

Wen has significant experience within the Chinese music and media industries as both a successful music producer and former Sony Music and EE-media executive, with the first label signings to the new label to be announced shortly.

Republic Records founder Chairman & CEO Monte Lipman said, “We’re thrilled to see the launch of Republic Records in China led by the brilliant leadership team of Tony and Sunny. This initiative recognizes the extraordinary growth in the Chinese marketplace and the palpable influence which has made a tremendous impact on our industry worldwide.”

Adam Granite, EVP, Market Development, UMG said, “I’d like to thank Monte, Avery and Republic Records for their support, as we welcome Republic Records China and Tony to the UMG label family. We are incredibly excited for Republic to become a new force synonymous with the best in Chinese music, just as the Republic brand is seen as a trusted mark of quality around the world.

“It is a unique time for music in China, with a diversly rich talent pool of new artists and talent that have the potential to find huge success both domestically, across Asia and more than-ever before around the world. UMG has a long history and culture of supporting and developing the best global music talent, and the launch of new labels only helps to accelerate and strengthen the domestic Chinese music market and most importantly introduce new and exciting artists and music to fans in China and beyond.”

Sunny Chang, Chairman & CEO, UMGC, said, “I am very pleased to welcome aboard Tony Wen – a highly experienced, senior executive in the music industry, who has established his career in the local market and has now become part of the amazing UMGC management team.

“His insights and experiences will bring indispensable value for us, as we launch Republic here in China. We thank Monte and Avery for the trust in UMGC, to launch Republic as a cornerstone for our multi-label strategy, as we set to expand the horizons for Chinese music talent in the future.”

As mentioned, Republic Records China won’t be the only new-look entity for Universal Music Group in China.

The three other Universal labels operating in the region will be:

  • Universal Music China (UMC), relaunched as a new label under the leadership of Garand Wu, Managing Director, Universal Music China. It will represent domestic talent including the two biggest selling breakthrough artists of 2020, Li Nong Chen (陈立农) and Sunnee(杨芸晴) alongside Guo Ding (郭顶), Tanya Chua(蔡健雅), and Tifa Chen(陈梓童). The label will also continue to represent UMG’s international artist repertoire;
  • The relaunched EMI China, led by Mei Yeh, who will continue to serve as Managing Director, Universal Music Taiwan. EMI China’s new dedicated A&R and marketing team will be based in Beijing and report to Mei and will focus on developing new talent, alongside an existing artist roster that already includes the likes of aMei(張惠妹), Rainie Yang(楊丞琳) and Eve Ai(艾怡良).
  • Polygram Records China is relaunching under the leadership of Duncan Wong, who will also continue to serve as Manager Director, Universal Music Hong Kong. The label will relaunch with a dedicated A&R and marketing team based in Beijing, alongside additional resources in Hong Kong and will leverage the history and success in Cantopop that PolyGram achieved in the region throughout the past half century. The label will focus on developing emerging domestic singer/songwriters, with new acts joining a roster of artists that already includes: Alan Tam(譚詠麟); Priscilla Chan(陳慧嫻); Lowell Lo(卢冠廷);; Kelly Chen(陳慧琳); AGA(江海迦); Gin Lee(李幸倪); Jace Chan(陳凱詠); and Niu Niu(张胜量).

Announcing the new label structure, Sunny Chang, Chairman & CEO, UMGC, said, “We are proud to announce that after 15 years of development in the local market, Universal Music is once again demonstrating its commitment to the Chinese creative community by becoming the first international major music company to launch multilabel operations here. Garand, Duncan and Mei are all veterans of Universal Music and highly respected leaders in the Chinese music market. Each of them can boast of more than 25 years of experience with an outstanding track record.”

Adam Granite, EVP, Market Development said, “The launch of these new labels will help accelerate and strengthen the domestic Chinese music market, which will benefit artists, our many partners and platforms across the region and, importantly, introduce new and exciting artists and music to fans in China and beyond.”Music Business Worldwide