UMG Buys Majority Stake in Kenyan Label AI Records: Report

Universal Music Group logo.
Courtesy of UMG

Universal Music Group logo.

Kenyan music label AI Records has announced a "strategic alliance" with Universal Music Group that will hand the major label access to one of the globe's largest catalogs of East African music. Business Daily Africa reports that UMG, through its Dutch subsidiary, Universal International Music BV, has acquired a 70 percent stake in AI for an undisclosed amount.

Based in Nairobi, AI Records has a roster that includes Orchestra Super Mazembe, Afro 70 and Western Jazz. The label was founded in the 1950s by Michael Andrews, and has since placed its focus on physical distribution of its own artists, along with international releases. A pairing with UMG will mean the label can add digital distribution of its catalog as well.

"We've entered into a strategic alliance... they will digitize the music and make it available to the world," said label head John Andrews, the founder's son. "We are too small to do that but they can."

Andrews also added that the company hopes to revive the recording side of its business by year's end. "We are in the process of communicating with many artistes," said Andrews, who will retain 30 percent of the company. "Hopefully we will sign contracts and begin new recordings by the end of the year."