Africa Might Deliver the Next Global Pop Star

UMG’s acquisition of a majority stake in Kenya’s AI Records is the latest deal this year that indicate the music industry is beginning to recognize Africa’s potential as a music mecca and profit center.

For longtime followers of African music, the March 5 announcement that Universal Music Group had acquired, through its Dutch subsidiary, a 70 percent stake in Kenya’s AI Records, brought the continent a step closer to joining the global marketplace for music — and eventually minting international pop stars of its own.

The deal gives UMG access to one of the world’s largest catalogs of East African music and, for the Kenyan label, partially solves one of several major obstacles keeping its artists from reaching a global audience. Through UMG, AI will be able to digitally distribute its…

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