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."