Robert Kyncl highlights Warner Music Group’s ‘big ambitions’ for MENA, as WMG signs India-based star Nora Fatehi

Robert Kyncl and Nora Fatehi, whose music has been streamed more than a billion times. Today (February 26) Fatehi announced she's signed a recordings deal with WMG

Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl has been keeping busy, announcing his company’s best-ever quarter, alongside a plan to find $200 million in cost savings and put “more money behind the music.”

During Warner’s earnings call on February 7, Kyncl highlighted one area where he expects to spend these funds, pausing to highlight the opportunities in “high-growth geographies”.

The MENA region (Middle East & North Africa) is most definitely one of these territories: IFPI named MENA the world’s fastest-growing music market in 2021, and the third highest in 2022.

Recent moves by Sony Music Publishing, and Universal Music, as well as non-big-three players like Gamma, have only served to further accelerate a growing industry focus on MENA.

MBW sources have confirmed that Warner’s Kyncl is currently visiting the region.

On February 16, Kyncl was joined by WMG’s partners at talent agency HuManagement at a star-studded fund-raising Gala for the Children’s Cancer Centre of Lebanon (CCCL).

During the event at the Dubai Opera house, Kyncl gave a brief speech, paying tribute to the CCCL for its work to “save lives, mitigate suffering, and act as a beacon of hope for families.”

But the exec also made a telling (if brief) claim about the Warner Music Group’s prominence in MENA.

Highlighting a network of partnerships methodically built up over the last six years, Kyncl pointed to Warner becoming the territory’s “market leader”.

He said: “Since launching Warner Music Middle East in 2018, we have made it our mission to get closer to, and connect with, the communities and music scenes that make [MENA] so special.”

“We’ve partnered with local experts such as Qanawat Music, Rotana, and HuManagement. I’m pleased to say that we are currently market leader, thanks to the partnerships we’ve forged with so many phenomenal artists.”

“We’ve partnered with local experts such as Qanawat Music, Rotana and HuManagement.  I’m pleased to say that we are currently market leader, thanks to the partnerships we’ve forged with so many phenomenal artists.”

Robert Kyncl, Warner Music Group

Kyncl went on to celebrate many of the stars attending the Gala, including Maya Diab, Ramy Ayach, Saif Nabeel, Anthony from Adonis, and Siilawy.

He added, “Together, we have big ambitions for bringing more music of Arabic descent to the global stage.”

Kyncl’s remarks were a neat set-up for a big announcement today (February 26).

Actress and singer, Nora Fatehi – who’s reported to be the most-followed Moroccan artist in the world – has revealed she’s signed a global recordings deal with Warner Music Group.

Fatehi is already a major Bollywood star, and was the first Arab-African artist to hit one billion views with a single music video on YouTube.

A press release issued by WMG today touted Fatehi’s “first agreement with a major global record company.”

She will remain signed to T-Series, the Indian music label and movie studio, for her Bollywood projects.

Fatehi said: “My ambition is to be a global music star and performer, connecting with fans all over the world. I want to use my diverse cultural background to create music and dance that brings everyone together!”

Based in India, Fatehi was born in Toronto, Canada to a family of Moroccan heritage.

Fluent in multiple languages, Nora Fatehi has more than 46 million followers on Instagram and 21 million on Facebook, while her music has generated more than 1.2 billion streams and 5 billion-plus YouTube views on her featured videos.

As if to emphasize the importance of the signing, Kyncl said today, “Nora is an extraordinary talent, electric performer, and cross-cultural superstar whose music reflects the rich diversity of her background. Her passion and ambition are infectious, and we’re excited to help her reach new audiences, places, and heights across the globe.”

Alfonso Perez-Soto, who oversees both India and MENA in his role as President of Emerging Markets at Warner, summed up everyone’s enthusiasm for the deal, by concluding: “[Nora] has the creative ability and sheer stamina you need to become one of the world’s biggest artists.”

As part of his MENA tour, MBW understands that Robert Kyncl is due to interview Fatehi on stage at Web Summit Qatar this week in Doha.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, WMG booked USD $1.748 billion in global revenues, driven by an 8.7% jump in recorded music revenues.

Almost two months ago, Kyncl said 2024 will be ‘The Year of the Next 10’ for Warner Music Group, “the year when we move at velocity to set ourselves up for a winning decade in the new world.”

Music Business Worldwide