(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Orchard has expanded into Kenya marking the 12th non-US territory to launch Orchard operations to sign local music. The Orchard's Kenyan office will be overseen by Miki Tunis, and managed day-to-day by Adi Vinner. Tunis is an accomplished music executive with a long track record of successfully sourcing and selling international music, who also serves The Orchard through his position as the head of Carmel Music, the largest digital music distributor in the Middle East, headquartered in Tel Aviv. Vinner has successfully developed business between Africa and companies in the western world for the past 22 years.
As a part of this initiative, The Orchard has also entered into a licensing agreement with The Kenyan Copyright Association (KCA) for its entire artist roster, which represents the vast majority of all available Kenyan music. The Orchard will pioneer the digital distribution and marketing of this rich music catalogue across its global digital download and mobile platforms.
The music of Kenya is influenced by its amalgamation of 40 different ethnic groups as well as its immigrant population from Europe, India and Arabia. The music encompasses almost the entire Kenyan repertoire in existence-including a wealth of genres such as classic benga, new taarab, rumba-based Swahili and Lingala Music. The current Kenyan music scene centers on a fusion of hip hop and African rhythms, popular with the youth culture.
The Orchard will distribute and promote Kenyan music to more than 125 of the world's leading digital music stores, including iTunes, eMusic, Napster, MSN, MusicMatch, Real/Rhapsody, and Yahoo! In addition, The Orchard will supply the KCA content through its distribution partnerships with over 100 leading mobile companies around the world, including Sprint, Mobilestreams, Dwango Wireless, Zingy, 9 Squared, HIFI Ringtones, IAM Mobile, Securycast, Arvato Mobile and Hudson Soft.
The Orchard's expansion into Kenya expands on the partnership it established in 2004 with Tunis and Carmel Music. Under this agreement, Carmel Music is working with the leading independent labels in Israel, Turkey and Eastern Europe as well as Greece, Russia, Bulgaria and Central Africa. In addition, Carmel Music is serving as The Orchard's digital distribution partner in those territories, representing The Orchard's catalogue of more than 600,000 tracks into local digital music services, song tone providers and other legal digital music sellers.
"The catalogue of the Kenyan Copyright Association represents the cultural heritage of one of the most diverse musical traditions of any African nation," said Greg Scholl, chief executive of The Orchard and managing director of Dimensional Associates, Inc, the private equity fund that owns The Orchard, eMusic, eMusicLive and Dimensional Music Publishing. "We are honored to announce this agreement and will work hard to expose international audiences to indigenous styles like benga, taarab, Swahili and Congolese. As a part of this program, we are establishing an African office in Nairobi, overseen by Miki and run by Adi, from which we will service Kenya and the surrounding East African countries."
The Orchard has a proven track record introducing other indigenous music styles to western audiences. It began distributing the music of India in September 2004, highlighted by the leading Indian label Saregama, and is about to launch a major initiative around the music of China in September 2005. Thus far, The Orchard's international programs have performed extremely well, providing unique content to digital retailers and new revenue streams to non- Western music copyright holders.
"Africa is a new frontier in the digital music revolution," said Tunis. "Signing The Kenyan Copyright Association represents the first significant step in enabling the free flow of African content across borders and waters to reach global audiences and markets. We at Carmel Music, on behalf of The Orchard, look forward to making other content announcements in the near future." –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen