MBW’s World Leaders is an everyday collection wherein we flip the highlight in direction of a few of the most influential business figures outdoors the US and UK markets. On this characteristic, we converse 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 turning into an more and more vital marketplace for the worldwide file enterprise.
Recorded music business revenues for the Center East and North Africa (MENA) area grew 37.8% in 2020, as much as $63.4 million.
That’s in keeping with world recorded music physique IFPI, which simply 12 months final opened its first workplace in MENA, demonstrating what IFPI CEO Frances Moore mentioned on the time was “the thrill and alternative we see within the area”.
Sony Music, Common Music Group and Warner Music Group all have a major presence in MENA at this time, with WMG at this time 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 business profession began in 1998, as a label supervisor for Music Grasp, Warner Music’s regional licensee on the time, overseeing the advertising 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 actions in Lebanon and growth into Saudi Arabia.
In 2008, he joined Melody Music and Artists Administration as Normal Supervisor, and in 2012, took up the position of Head of Content material for streaming platform, m.media, the place he continued to work till becoming a member of WMG.
One in all WMG’s greatest 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 12 months that WMG’s label companies division ADA Worldwide would distribute Rotana releases globally outdoors of MENA and by way of YouTube for the whole 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 quite a lot of years”.
“Sky excessive piracy charges meant the bodily market by no means actually obtained off the bottom,” he provides.
Streaming has ushered in a brand new period for the area’s music enterprise nonetheless, serving as the first driver behind the area’s 37.8% recorded music income progress in 2020.
MBW caught up with Moe Hamzeh, and former CEO of Deezer MENA forward of their joint on-stage look on the XP music business convention in Saudi Arabia in December, about alternatives, challenges and progress within the area…
Do you assume the Center East has been marginalised in discussions concerning the world music enterprise up to now?
Moe Hamzeh: Even because the digital revolution obtained underway, the business dialog about rising markets targeted on Latin America, Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. Folks tended to see 17 fragmented international locations, moderately than an Arab-speaking market of just about 400 million individuals. With digital progress, we now have the power to higher monetise the market and I hope that occasions comparable 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 business for getting concerned in a rustic like Saudi Arabia?
Tarek Mounir (pictured): The music business ought to all the time be fan-focused. There are round 13 million Saudis underneath the age of 25 they usually’re hungry for tradition and leisure. By leaning in to them, we can assist 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 traits. We’re serving to gifted 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 traits are we seeing within the music business throughout MENA – surging genres, markets to look at and so on?
MH: There’s a paradox in that digital platforms are enabling artists to succeed in 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, generally referred to 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 pc generated and synth beats and is sort of completely 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 completely 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 fashionable 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 succeed in 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 identical time we’re seeing the emergence of stronger native scenes. There are fewer pan-Arab superstars within the type of Amr Diab – it’s change into simpler to succeed in audiences in several territories, however more durable to breakthrough as there’s a lot competitors. However that I believe is the place new funding from file firms could make a distinction, they will 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 – comparable to ladies 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 partaking with artists from completely different backgrounds and new views. As a file firm, we’re dedicated to fairness and variety and need to assist society evolve, whereas nonetheless being respectful of traditions. However there are nonetheless limitations – take the indie band Mashrou’ Leila, who’re large in Lebanon and throughout the area, they discovered themselves banned from performing stay in some international locations due to their affiliation with LGBTQ+ rights. So – in all honesty – there’s a protracted approach 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 companies are world, they assist drive the performers they love up the charts.
What misconceptions concerning 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 software for cultural dialogue. I hope it helps deliver individuals collectively.
How do you see the subsequent few years taking part in out for the music enterprise in MENA?
TM: The business is rising quick, however we’ve nonetheless obtained challenges to beat. Low bank card penetration means we should be progressive about cost gateways; copyright regimes should be up to date and enforced; we have to decrease knowledge prices as they’ve in markets comparable 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 progress.
MH: The subsequent 5 years can be a time of seeding and growing the business. I studied geology a few years in the past, so I nonetheless use the analogy of turning graphite into diamond! I believe we’re beginning to see funding are available, governments see the chance a thriving artistic sector presents and native music scenes explode. The opening of an IFPI workplace within the area was the most recent milestone within the creation of a copyright infrastructure that may enable us to construct a correct business. So I believe the subsequent few years can be exhausting, exhilarating and rewarding!
What would you alter concerning the music business 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 business would profit massively if extra individuals migrated to paid subscription companies.
Moe mentions that digital platforms are enabling artists to succeed in followers throughout borders,” might he increase a bit on this – What platforms are they seeing the largest progress on?
MH: Worldwide companies comparable to Apple Music, Deezer and Spotify supply a chance for our artists to climb the worldwide charts. Regional market leaders, comparable to Anghami, are additionally enabling artists to succeed in followers throughout the Arabic world and past. And YouTube is a massively fashionable channel for music followers proper throughout the area, whereas its current initiative of producing MENA-specific charts reveals it recognises the potential of the area.
MENA-focused music streaming service Anghami is planning to listing on the NASDAQ – inform us concerning the significance of this information for the music and tech industries within the wider area?
MH: It was sensible 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 around the globe 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.
Music Enterprise Worldwide