Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced a significant expansion of its recorded music operations across South East Asia (UMG SEA) with the launch of two new flagship label divisions – Def Jam South East Asia and Astralwerks Asia , which will focus on hip-hop and electronic music respectively.
In addition, UMG SEA has announced plans to extend its focus and commitment to local language and domestic repertoire.
UMG SEA announced the launch of Ingrooves and Spinnup in the region to extend the range of marketing and distribution services that UMG offers to support independent artists, labels and talent throughout the region.
These announcements coincided with the official opening of UMG’s new regional headquarters for South East Asia, in Singapore’s arts and heritage district, and were revealed today (September 17) during a keynote speech by Adam Granite, Universal Music Group’s Executive Vice-President of Market Development (pictured left), at the All That Matters ’19 conference in Singapore.
Granite’s speech focused on the commitment and investment by UMG into the long-term development and transformation of the region – one that reaches almost 700 million people and where music is increasingly driven by a young, social and mobile-driven audience.
His keynote also featured an appearance by Calvin Wong, CEO, Universal Music South East Asia & SVP, Asia, who announced the opening of a new dedicated Universal Music office in Vietnam later this year, before introducing Toby Andrews, GM at Astralwerks, who spoke about the opportunities that artists from within the region now have to reach new audiences around the globe, and his ambitions for building the Astralwerks roster and brand within Asia.
“It is an honor to be here in Singapore, alongside Calvin Wong, our CEO for South East Asia and with many of our senior-executives from around the world, to celebrate this strategic expansion of UMG’s operations across the region, which serves as a mark of commitment and respect for both the music culture in the region, and our belief in its future.”
Granite was additionally joined on stage by Ingrooves CEO, Bob Roback and Nina Usher, GM, Spinnup, to launch both services in the region.
Speaking at the event, Roback announced that Ingrooves would be expanding its operations within the region and launching in several new markets in the coming months.
To celebrate the launch of Def Jam South East Asia, Granite was lastly joined on stage by Joe Flizzow (Malaysia), Daboyway (Thailand), Yung Raja (Singapore), Fariz Jabba (Singapore), ALIF (Singapore) & A.Nayaka (Indonesia), six of the biggest rappers from the region, who were announced as the inaugural signings to Def Jam South East Asia. They performed an unannounced freestyle cypher together to close the event.
Granite said: “It is an honor to be here in Singapore, alongside Calvin Wong, our CEO for South East Asia and with many of our senior-executives from around the world, to celebrate this strategic expansion of UMG’s operations across the region, which serves as a mark of commitment and respect for both the music culture in the region, and our belief in its future.”
Calvin Wong, CEO, Universal Music South East Asia & SVP, Asia (pictured right), added: “This expansion showcases the importance of South East Asia in terms of musical talent and future business opportunities.
“Music is more accessible than ever before, and we firmly believe there is the potential for regional and global breakthrough for our artists in the future.”
You can read Granite’s speech in full below:
“Thank you all for coming. It is good to be here in Singapore, at such an exciting and pivotal time for both UMG and for music in the region.
It is fitting that we are also joined here today by so many of UMG’s senior leadership team from around the world, as well as many of our existing partners – a sign of our respect for music from South East Asia.
Over the past two years, UMG has expanded its operations throughout some of the world’s most dynamic and fast-moving music territories, including Greater China, Africa, India and MENA.
Our goal is simple, to drive domestic growth in countries around the world through strategic investment, artist development, business innovation and most of all, great music.
This investment involves building infrastructure, resources and hiring the best local employees, but first and foremost, it’s about identifying and developing the best artists from around the world and working with them to reach new fans locally and globally.
This is a strategy that is set at the very top of the company by our Chairman & CEO, Sir Lucian Grainge and one ingrained within the DNA of all of our operations, in more than 60 countries spanning the globe.
Of course, every country presents its unique challenges and opportunities. In some markets those challenges might be limited mobile connectivity, or lack of payment infrastructure, or threats from piracy.
As the world’s leading music company, UMG is committed to accelerating the music ecosystem in all countries in which we operate. Creating new opportunities for artists. Working for creators’ rights and active leadership in licensing new partners to ensure that music fans can experience the music they love, how and when they want.
Now with the evolution of streaming, we have an even better understanding of what audiences are seeking – and more often that is becoming primarily local repertoire.
Which brings us to Singapore…
Yesterday, we officially opened the doors to Universal Music South East Asia. This is our new central regional hub, supporting our teams in Malaysia, Indonesia, Indochina, Thailand, The Philippines, here in Singapore.
For UMG, it marks a significant commitment and investment into the long-term development and transformation of this vibrant region.
One that reaches almost 700 million people and where music is increasingly driven by a young, social and mobile-driven audience. An audience that will only continue to grow as better data affordability, connectivity and smartphone access continues to improve.
Over the years, many of our international artists have built loyal fanbases and achieved great success within South East Asia. Now alongside this, we are witnessing exciting domestic growth in all genres, particularly in local language repertoire.
Together, we will work to create further opportunities for artists from the region to break through on both a regional and a global level. As we have seen in recent years with the explosion of Reggaeton and K-pop, the next global hit could come from anywhere, and there is no reason to believe that it couldn’t be from one of these countries.
Being here in Singapore puts UMG closer to many of our partners and alongside many of the world’s biggest brands and companies. Which will allow us to demonstrate the influence and impact that music and our artists can have in transforming culture and reaching young people throughout South East Asia.
We are excited about bringing Astralwerks to Asia, to explore the many commercial opportunities to build this trusted electronic brand locally including the potential to build out live events, merchandising and other unique fan experiences in the region alongside the recorded music strategy.
Another area that we will be focusing closely on is distribution services for independent labels and artists here in South East Asia. We believe that independent music is vital to maintaining a healthy music ecosystem within the region, that will continue to grow for years to come.
At UMG, we have a unique suite of distribution platforms that can provide artists and labels with intuitive, data driven services to support independent artists and their own individual needs. Whether that is already established talent or helping new artists in their bedrooms at the beginning of their journey into the industry.
These platforms can help local artists and labels reach new audiences alongside the benefits of being aligned with a global network and active teams driving engagement all around the world.
Now to talk about DIY distribution, and how UMG created Spinnup, a DIY distribution platform to help support and incubate young artist talent at the beginning of their careers, and how it is also successfully introducing many of them to UMG’s frontline labels around the world.
As you will have seen and heard through some of these announcements we have made today, UMG is committed to the development and discovery of the best music and talent within the region. We hope that you will share our belief and work closely with Calvin and his team to achieve many great successes in the years to come.
Now onto our final announcement of the day. As we have seen in other markets around the world, one of the fastest growing genres globally is hip-hop. Here in South East Asia, it is no different. Hip-hop has successfully navigated the many local dialects to provide an authentic representation of what is happening on the streets.
Today, young people in the region connect not just with the major global rap superstars from the U.S., but more and more with rappers speaking a language they understand.
To help lead the explosion of hip-hop in the region, we are announcing the launch of Def Jam South East Asia – A new label dedicated to taking the best Asian rap talent and giving them a global platform to reach new audiences around the world with their music.
Def Jam has always signified a globally recognized and respected mark of hip-hop quality. From Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Nas, Jay-Z, Kanye West to today’s next wave of Def Jam rappers like Logic, Big Sean & 2 Chainz.
As the iconic label celebrates its 35th year, we are excited to extend its reach into South East Asia and start a new chapter in its illustrious history.
Hopefully one that will be integral to the growth of hip-hop and rap culture across the region.
Rather than sit and talk about Asian hip-hop, we thought it would be better to invite some of the first signings to def jam sea to give you a taste of hip-hop in the region. Thank you. “ Music Business Worldwide