Warner Music Group Announces Partnership With Nigerian Label Chocolate City

Chocolate City, one of Nigeria’s biggest music labels co-founded by chief executive Audu Maikori, along with Paul Okeugo and, Jude Abaga and Aibee Abidoye, with a roster of stars like Femi Kuti, Dice Ailes, Blaqbonez, has signed a new partnership with the world’s third-largest record label Warner Music Group (WMG).

At Chocolate City, we have always been passionate about discovering and developing the best talent across Africa and giving them a platform for global growth, The partnership with Warner Music Group is unique in the sense that our clients get the best of both worlds — curated and bespoke services by a highly experienced team across Africa and a dedicated global team to further push their music and their brands“, said Chocolate City Group CEO Audu Maikori in a statement.

The deal will allow Warner a stake in the Nigerian music scene by investing in Chocolate City’s talent development and handling the Lagos-based label’s international distribution and a strategic, reciprocal marketing agreement with WMG South Africa. Warner will also financially invest in Chocolate City to assist in its mission of signing and developing promising local talent.

This is the second partnership Warner Music Group has entered into with an African company in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the label signed a major licensing deal with streaming service Boomplay.

Warner Music is playing catch up to Universal Music Group and Sony Music, who’ve both already invested in the genre. Sony’s RCA label signed Nigeria’s’ two biggest stars, Davido and Wizkid. Universal Music’s more comprehensive Africa strategy has seen it set up offices in Lagos and Abidjan and purchase a label in Nairobi.

Afrobeats’  huge success has also caught the attention of Financial investors in venture capital and private equity trying to get a piece of the pie. In January, Kupanda Capital struck a deal to take a significant stake in Maven Records, a label co-owned by Afrobeats producer Don Jazzy. Kupanda is backed by blue-chip private equity firm TPG Growth, which has invested in Spotify, Uber, and Airbnb.

The deals come amid a surge in popularity for the Afrobeats sound (a progeny of the earlier style known as “Afrobeat”) across the globe. In 2016, Drake‘s single “One Dance” featuring Nigerian singer Wizkid became a massive summer hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 non-consecutive weeks. More recently, Migos rapper Quavo featured Nigerian singer Davido on his debut solo studio album, Quavo Huncho, while electronic music trio Major Lazer released an “Afrobeats” mix last September. 

Sub-Saharan Africa is considered an emerging market thanks to a rising young population (1.1 billion) and the spread of smartphones in the region. WMG isn’t the only American music company that’s taken notice; in 2016, Sony Music signed deals with both Wizkid and Tanzanian singer Ali Kiba, while Universal Music Group opened a Nigerian division last July, Billboard reports.

Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.

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