MBW’s World Leaders is an everyday collection by which we flip the highlight in direction of among the most influential trade figures exterior the US and UK markets. On this function, we communicate to Moe Hamzeh, Managing Director of Warner Music Center East. World Leaders is supported by PPL.
With an addressable inhabitants of over 380 million, MENA is changing into an more and more vital marketplace for the worldwide file enterprise.
Recorded music trade revenues for the Center East and North Africa (MENA) area grew 37.8% in 2020, as much as $63.4 million.
That’s in response to world recorded music physique IFPI, which simply yr final opened its first workplace in MENA, demonstrating what IFPI CEO Frances Moore mentioned on the time was “the joy and alternative we see within the area”.
Sony Music, Common Music Group and Warner Music Group all have a major presence in MENA right this moment, with WMG making a play for the market again in 2018 by way of the launch of its Warner Music Center East division.
Led by MD Moe Hamzeh, who’s based in Beirut, the regional HQ focuses on 17 markets throughout MENA, together with Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Hamzeh’s music trade profession began in 1998, as a label supervisor for Music Grasp, Warner Music’s regional licensee on the time, overseeing the advertising and marketing and distribution of WMG’s repertoire in Lebanon.
He went on to discovered indie file label and writer Temple Leisure, and later opened Virgin Megastores’ flagship retailer within the area, the place he oversaw product advertising and marketing actions in Lebanon and growth into Saudi Arabia.
In 2008, he joined Melody Music and Artists Administration as Basic Supervisor, and in 2012, took up the function of Head of Content material for streaming platform, m.media, the place he continued to work till becoming a member of WMG.
Considered one of WMG’s largest strikes in MENA following the launch of Warner Music Center East in 2018 got here in February 2021, when it invested in Saudi Arabia’s Rotana Group-owned Rotana Music, which is claimed to be the biggest file label within the Center East.
The deal – believed to be an eight-figure acquisition for a minority stake – expanded WMG’s presence within the Center East and North African (MENA) area.
It was additionally introduced in February final yr that WMG’s label providers division ADA Worldwide would distribute Rotana releases globally exterior of MENA and by way of YouTube for your complete world.
Commenting on MENA’s historic positioning within the world music enterprise, Hamzeh tells MBW that “the Center East wasn’t on the radar for a lot of world music gamers for plenty of years”.
“Sky excessive piracy charges meant the bodily market by no means actually received off the bottom,” he provides.
Streaming has ushered in a brand new period for the area’s music enterprise nevertheless, serving as the first driver behind the area’s 37.8% recorded music income development in 2020.
MBW caught up with Moe Hamzeh, and Tarek Mounir – the previous CEO of Deezer MENA – forward of their joint on-stage look on the XP music trade convention in Saudi Arabia in December, about alternatives, challenges and development within the area…
Do you assume the Center East has been marginalised in discussions in regards to the world music enterprise prior to now?
Moe Hamzeh: Even because the digital revolution received underway, the trade dialog about rising markets centered on Latin America, Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. Folks tended to see 17 fragmented international locations, fairly than an Arab-speaking market of just about 400 million folks. With digital development, we now have the power to raised monetise the market and I hope that occasions corresponding to XP will assist change the narrative and present the potential that’s right here.
What do you say to those that criticise the music trade for getting concerned in a rustic like Saudi Arabia?
Tarek Mounir (pictured): The music trade ought to all the time be fan-focused. There are round 13 million Saudis underneath the age of 25 and so they’re hungry for tradition and leisure. By leaning in to them, we will help be a catalyst for constructive change.
Issues are altering quickly right here, in methods not all the time reported within the worldwide media, and it’s thrilling to be part of that.
What are the alternatives for file firms in MENA?
MH: The mixture of a rising regional financial system, excessive digital penetration and a younger demographic are robust fundamentals for us. However you want the alchemy of a file label to assist younger artists profit from these tendencies. We’re serving to proficient performers begin to construct careers in music and that’s massively thrilling. It’s altering their lives and it’s altering the lives of their followers.
What tendencies are we seeing within the music trade throughout MENA – surging genres, markets to look at and so forth?
MH: There’s a paradox in that digital platforms are enabling artists to achieve followers throughout borders, however we’re additionally seeing the emergence of stronger native scenes. There are a pair it’s price highlighting to your worldwide readers.
Mahraganat, typically generally known as electro-shaabi, has swept Egypt. It has its roots within the streets of Cairo and is related to weddings and festivities, it actually interprets as “festivals” in English. It depends closely on laptop generated and synth beats and is sort of totally different to the romantic pop that’s dominated the charts for many years. It’s additionally influenced the expansion of Egyptian hip-hop.
North African hip-hop is sort of totally different to something you see popping out of the States. Due to the robust diaspora presence in France and Italy, you see a cross-pollination between artists from the likes of Algiers, Tangiers and Tunis with these from Milan, Paris and Marseilles. Drawing on the standard wealthy cultures of North Africa, it makes for a fast-moving scene.
Khaliji is standard within the Gulf States and depends on the rhythm that comes from African and Indian music, in addition to native beats.
Is it proving simpler for Arabic artists to achieve an viewers throughout the area now?
TM: As Moe mentioned, there’s a paradox that digital platforms make it simpler to followers to entry music from anyplace, however on the similar time we’re seeing the emergence of stronger native scenes. There are fewer pan-Arab superstars within the fashion of Amr Diab – it’s grow to be simpler to achieve audiences in numerous territories, however tougher to breakthrough as there’s a lot competitors. However that I feel is the place new funding from file firms could make a distinction, they’ll put collectively campaigns that may assist artists join with followers from throughout the area extra simply.
MH: And we’re beginning to see that occur. For instance, The Synaptik is an incredible rapper of Palestinian and Jordanian heritage who we’ve been in a position to assist construct a major fan base in Egypt.
Are there challenges for artists from underrepresented teams – corresponding to girls or those that are LGBT+?
MH: Issues are altering, and whereas legal guidelines are nonetheless discriminatory in lots of international locations, younger persons are open to participating with artists from totally different backgrounds and new views. As a file firm, we’re dedicated to fairness and variety and wish to assist society evolve, whereas nonetheless being respectful of traditions. However there are nonetheless obstacles – take the indie band Mashrou’ Leila, who’re enormous in Lebanon and throughout the area, they discovered themselves banned from performing dwell in some international locations due to their affiliation with LGBTQ+ rights. So – in all honesty – there’s a protracted solution to go.
Do you assume there’s an viewers for Arabic music past the area?
TM: There’s an enormous world viewers for Arabic music. There’s a major diaspora in North and South America, Europe and Australia. They act as champions for Arabic artists of their wider societies and in an age when many streaming providers are world, they assist drive the performers they love up the charts.
What misconceptions in regards to the area would you want appropriate?
MH: Too typically the Center East has been within the headlines internationally due to political points, however that masks the story of a area whose financial system is rising powerfully and a people who find themselves embracing change. Music is about pleasure and celebration, and is a good instrument for cultural dialogue. I hope it helps convey folks collectively.
How do you see the following few years enjoying out for the music enterprise in MENA?
TM: The trade is rising quick, however we’ve nonetheless received challenges to beat. Low bank card penetration means we have to be progressive about cost gateways; copyright regimes have to be up to date and enforced; we have to decrease information prices as they’ve in markets corresponding to India. And, most of all, we have to educate followers that music is price paying for. However I’m assured we will clear all these hurdles and open a path to much more speedy development.
MH: The subsequent 5 years can be a time of seeding and creating the trade. I studied geology a few years in the past, so I nonetheless use the analogy of turning graphite into diamond! I feel we’re beginning to see funding are available in, governments see the chance a thriving inventive sector presents and native music scenes explode. The opening of an IFPI workplace within the area was the newest milestone within the creation of a copyright infrastructure that may permit us to construct a correct trade. So I feel the following few years can be exhausting, exhilarating and rewarding!
What would you alter in regards to the music trade and why?
MH: On a regional stage, I’d prefer to see higher training across the worth of music. Years of piracy has led a big proportion of the Center East inhabitants to imagine music needs to be free. Our artists and the trade would profit massively if extra folks migrated to paid subscription providers.
Moe mentions that digital platforms are enabling artists to achieve followers throughout borders,” may he develop a bit on this – What platforms are they seeing the largest development on?
MH: Worldwide providers corresponding to Apple Music, Deezer and Spotify supply a chance for our artists to climb the worldwide charts. Regional market leaders, corresponding to Anghami, are additionally enabling artists to achieve followers throughout the Arabic world and past. And YouTube is a massively standard channel for music followers proper throughout the area, whereas its current initiative of producing MENA-specific charts exhibits it recognises the potential of the area.
MENA-focused music streaming service Anghami is planning to listing on the NASDAQ – inform us in regards to the significance of this information for the music and tech industries within the wider area?
MH: It was good information to see an Arab know-how firm from MENA listing on NASDAQ for the primary time. It additionally shines an actual highlight on the area.
World Leaders is supported by PPL, a number one worldwide neighbouring rights collector, with best-in-class operations that assist performers and recording rightsholders all over the world maximise their royalties. Based in 1934, PPL collects cash from throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. It has collected over £500 million internationally for its members since 2006.
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