One of the world’s “big three” recording companies announced the launch of Warner Music South Africa – a country considered to be the world’s 22nd-biggest music market, Billboard reports.
New York-based Warner Music Group, aka Warner Music, is the largest American-owned music conglomerate in the world and one of the “big three” recording companies that includes Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
Among Warner’s biggest front-line acts in South Africa are Bruno Mars, Nickleback, James Blunt, Linkin Park, Josh Groban, Trey Songz, Birdy and Michael Bublé, who held the No. 1 position for seven weeks in a row with his latest studio set, “To Be Loved,” according to Billboard.
The launch follows Warner Music’s buyout of Gallo Records’ share of an existing joint venture, Warner Music Gallo Africa.
With sales totaling $85 million in 2012, South Africa is the world’s 22nd-biggest music market according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s (IFPI) 2013 Recording Industry in Numbers report.
iTunes made its long-awaited debut in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana in December 2012, PIRI reported.
Other digital music services active in South Africa include Deezer, Nokia Music, Simfy, Look and Listen, Rara.com, Spinlet and Universal Music’s pan-African mobile music service, The Kleek, which launched in March in partnership with mobile handset manufacturer Samsung, Billboard reports.
Despite strong growth in digital music services, physical sales of music accounted for 91 percent of music sales in 2012, according to IFPI.
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Former Warner Music Gallo Africa General Manager Tracy Fraser will be managing director of Warner Music South Africa.
“Thanks to the recent launch of legitimate online services combined with the increasing availability of technology and mobile handsets, we are experiencing an increasing demand for digital music, while our physical market remains significant,” Fraser said, according to the Billboard report.
Stu Bergen, president of international operations for Warner Recorded Music, said the launch strengthens Warner’s geographical reach and global network, “and we see this investment as another step towards delivering best in class services and driving new opportunities for our extraordinary artists all around the world.”
Warner Music Gallo Africa was established in 2006 as a joint venture between Warner Music Group and the 87-year-old domestic label Gallo Africa. The new, wholly-owned affiliate, which will remain based in Johannesburg, will oversee the release of international repertoire within South Africa and across the continent. Although the focus is on international releases, the label is looking to invest in domestic repertoire in future, according to a spokesperson for Warner Music, Billboard reported.
Sony Music will handle physical distribution for Warner releases in South Africa.
The launch of Warner Music South Africa is the latest in a series of expansions to Warner Music Group’s global operations following the June acquisition of Russia’s leading independent music company Gala Records.
Earlier this year, the music major completed the purchase of the Parlophone Label Group (PLG), comprising the historic Parlophone label, the Chrysalis/Ensign labels in the United Kingdom, EMI Classics and Virgin Classics and the EMI operating companies in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.