NAIROBI, KENYA (CelebrityAccess) Universal Music Group has acquired a 70% stake in leading Kenyan label, Andrews International Records (Kenya) Ltd, also known as AI Records, as the Vivendi-owned major boosters its presence in Africa.
When Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge signed a new five-year contract in 2015, Universal parent Vivendi highlighted Africa as a market in which it would actively invest over the following half-decade.
This most recent acquisition was made by Universal’s Dutch subsidiary (Universal International Music BV)
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, AI Records owns one of the largest catalogs of East African music in the world covering rap, reggae, dance, gospel, world and classical genres. The company is renowned for bringing International music to Africa and promoting African music to the world. Its roster includes recordings by such local stars as Orchestra Super Mazembe, and Afro 70.
AI Records was founded in the 1950s by broadcaster Michael Andrews (Mahanjam Mike) whose son, John Andrews as GM, heads up the business today. The Andrews family will retain 30% ownership in the label, which will digitize its catalogue as part of the Universal partnership.
“We’ve entered into a strategic alliance…they will digitize the music and make it available to the world. We are too small to do that but they can,” said John Andrews.
In 2010 AI Records scaled back the recording side of its business as it had become “expensive.” Andrews said plans are underway to “recreate” the company as a recording business before the end of the year, though the revival is not dependent on the Universal Music Group investment.
“We are in the process of communicating with many artistes. Hopefully we will sign contracts and begin new recordings by the end of the year,” said Andrews.