Universal Music Group has shaken up its leadership team in Africa, in a move which UMG says “underscores [our] ongoing commitment to support and grow Africa’s domestic music ecosystems, while also creating new opportunities for African talent to reach new audiences globally”.
Sipho Dlamini has been promoted to CEO, Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, effective immediately. Dlamini will continue to oversee all of UMG’s operations within English-speaking Africa.
Dlamini steps up from his prior role as Managing Director of South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, which he took up when he joined UMG in 2016.
In his new role, Dlamini will continue to work closely with Adam Granite, UMG’s EVP, Market Development, to identify further opportunities for artists signed to Universal Music Africa to reach new audiences around the world, utilizing UMG’s global network of businesses spanning more than 60 countries worldwide.
“Over the past few years, Sipho has shown great leadership, commitment and vision for music in Africa, helping UMG to introduce new talent to audiences around the world and identify opportunities to lead the industry in licensing and supporting new platforms to reach African music fans.”
Adam Granite, UMG
Dlamini has been joined by experienced senior executive Elouise Kelly, who has been appointed Chief Operating Officer, Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. She will be based in Johannesburg and will report to Dlamini.
Kelly joins UMG from global advertising and media giant Ogilvy, where she held the position of Managing Director, South Africa.
With an award-winning background in branding, marketing, communication and commercial business strategy, Universal says she will play an integral role in the further expansion of Universal Music Africa and its operations and label divisions. Prior to working at Ogilvy, Kelly held senior positions at SABC, Top TV, Viacom International Media Networks and M-Net.
In addition, Chinedu Okeke has been named Managing Director, Universal Music Nigeria. He will lead the development and expansion of UMG’s existing operations within Nigeria, and further English-speaking markets in West Africa. Okeke will be based in Lagos, Nigeria and will report to Dlamini.
Okeke joins UMG having established himself as a successful entrepreneur over the past decade. He is the founder of Eclipse Live – a live entertainment company focused on bringing affordable concerts to the youth of Africa – and Eclipse Brand Agency, working with major clients, artists and commercial partners.
“There has never been a more exciting time for African music around the world, as it continues to influence and inspire culture and creativity, whilst reaching a wider audience globally each day through streaming.”
Sipho Dlamini, UMG
Okeke is also the founder and Executive Producer of Nigeria’s legendary Gidi Culture Festival, and a founding Trustee of Echo Music & Arts Foundation, and previously held positions at The Wicklow Group, Canvest Group & AP Moeller Maersk.
Announcing the changes, Adam Granite said, “I am thrilled to announce these strategic appointments, as we look to further develop our domestic infrastructure and label rosters within Africa. Most integral to achieving our long-term ambitions, is to build a strong leadership team on the ground, with deep foundations in each country to help grow a dynamic ecosystem for all to benefit in the future.
“Over the past few years, Sipho has shown great leadership, commitment and vision for music in Africa, helping UMG to introduce new talent to audiences around the world and identify opportunities to lead the industry in licensing and supporting new platforms to reach African music fans. Elouise and Chin both bring welcome new skills, proven entrepreneurship and important leadership experience that will only serve to bolster UMG’s position as the market-leader across Africa.”
Sipho Dlamini said, “There has never been a more exciting time for African music around the world, as it continues to influence and inspire culture and creativity, whilst reaching a wider audience globally each day through streaming.
“I am delighted to welcome both Elouise and Chin to the UMG family, their unique skills and experiences will only help to further establish UMG as a bedrock within the African music community, that will continue to put the interests and opportunities for artists first and help elevate African talent to new levels of success at home and abroad.”
“I am delighted to welcome both Elouise and Chin to the UMG family, their unique skills and experiences will only help to further establish UMG as a bedrock within the African music community.”
In the past few years, Universal has opened new divisions in Nigeria, as well as becoming the first major music company to establish divisions in Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon and Morocco to complement UMG’s longstanding operations in South Africa.
In 2018, UMG became the first major label to licence its catalog to Boomplay, Africa’s largest local streaming platform. Last year, UMG released several acclaimed albums by African artists globally, including:
- Celia from Nigerian star Tiwa Savage (released in partnership with Motown Records US);
- South African rapper Nasty C’s Zulu Man With Some Power (in partnership with Def Jam Recordings in the U.S., Island Records U.K. and other Universal labels around the world);
- Midnight Train from Kenya’s Sauti Sol;
- Old Romance, the debut album release from Nigerian singer/producer Tekno, who is signed to Universal Music Nigeria in partnership with Island Records in the U.K. and US.
Last year, UMG also agreed a strategic partnership between Nigeria’s Aristokrat Records and Universal Music France. It also launched Def Jam Africa as a standalone label on the continent, with resources across five countries, “dedicated to discovering the best in African hip-hop, Afrobeats and Trap music”.
Universal’s French-speaking operations in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon and other markets within Africa operate under the leadership of Franck Kacou, Directeur General, Universal Music Africa.
UMG is also working closely in partnership with parent company Vivendi, and several of Vivendi’s divisions, including CanalOlympia, Olympia Production, Vivendi and Canal+ to support and develop the live music industry throughout Africa.
In addition to his day-to-day duties at Universal, Sipho Dlamini is a member of UMG’s Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC), which was created last year as a driving force for inclusion and social justice within the global music industry; he also serves as chair for the TFMC’s Global Committee.Music Business Worldwide