Universal Music Group Buys Majority Stake in Nigerian Label Mavin Global


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The Universal Music Group purchased a majority stake in Nigerian record company Mavin Global, the iconic label founded by Don Jazzy that is home to Rema, Ayra Starr, Crayon and Ladipoe, among others. The deal is expected to be completed by the third quarter, pending regulatory approval, the companies announced.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, Billboard reported in October that Mavin was being shopped by Shot Tower Capital at a valuation north of $125 million, with a sale price in the region of $150 million to $200 million; it was unclear if publishing was involved in the deal. As part of the investment arrangement, Don Jazzy — who founded Mavin in 2012, and also serves as CEO — and COO Tega Oghenejobo will continue to run the label.


“Our criteria for identifying partners is straightforward: great artists, great entrepreneurs, great people,” UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge said in a statement announcing the deal. “With Don Jazzy, Tega, the Mavin Global team and their artist roster, we’ve found ideal partners with whom to grow together. Mavin’s brilliant artists have been catalysts in the transformation of Afrobeats into a global phenomenon and we’re thrilled to welcome them into the Universal Music Group family.”

Mavin had already established a relationship with UMG, with Rema’s “Calm Down” — the biggest Afrobeats song of all time, which reached No. 3 on the Hot 100 last year — initially distributed by Virgin Music, with its remix featuring Selena Gomez licensed to Interscope; Starr, meanwhile, has a deal in place with Republic. “Calm Down” has racked up more than 1 billion on-demand streams in the U.S. alone since its release, with its global count many multiples higher.

The investment is designed to spur Mavin’s growth around the world, according to a press release, with focuses on both Mavin’s Artist Academy, which nurtures its roster in various musical and performance skills, and its executive leadership team, which is aimed at growing the next generation of African leaders in the music business.

“With our proven history of collaborations within the UMG family, we have a strong belief that they are the ideal partner for the next phase of our growth, given the diversity and potential of our business,” Oghenejobo said in a statement. “UMG is home to some of the world’s foremost music entrepreneurs and artists, making them a perfect match for our aspirations. By collaborating with UMG, we are dedicated to cultivating a vibrant creative environment that propels African music to new heights on the global stage.”

Winning the Mavin auction catapults UMG deeper into the Nigerian Afrobeats scene — the umbrella genre that encompasses Afropop, Afro fusion, high life and others that continues to explode around the globe. In the past several years, artists such as Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy have blossomed into global superstars, while the likes of Rema, Starr, Tems, Tyla, Ckay, Asake and Fireboy DML have led a wave of young, emerging talent coming from the African continent. The movement has gained momentum to the point that the Recording Academy introduced a new Grammy Awards category for best African music performance, which was awarded to Tyla’s “Water” at the honors earlier this month.

Additional reporting by Ed Christman.

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