Coronavirus

Akon and Former Motown CEO Kedar Massenburg Launch Akonik Label Group

Akon and Kedar Massenburg
Mazi O. at Akonik Label Group

Akon and Kedar Massenburg

Housing four distinct labels, the new company has secured global distribution with BMG.

Artist-producer-entrepreneur Akon and former Motown president/CEO Kedar Massenburg have added a new entry to their industry resumés: co-founders of the Akonik Label Group (ALG). Comprised of four record labels, ALG will be distributed globally by BMG and maintain offices in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

ALG’s four labels will sign and promote talent in the U.S., Europe and various regions around the world. The Akonik label will focus on creatives in the U.S. and Europe, while the Akonda label will foster Afro Beats talent. Latin America, inclusive of Mexico and Puerto Rico, will be the purview of the Ke Lo Ke label. Fourth label Jamakon will center on developing Caribbean artists. ALG plans to roll out its first wave of new singles and videos in the next 30 days.

In a press release announcing the launch of ALG, the venture is described as signaling "the first time an artist has established a multi-national, multi-cultural label group."

"Music is able to reach a global market with a touch of a button," Massenburg tells Billboard. “It’s 'global idol’ now versus American Idol. And the public has become the A&R for labels. We’re giving people a chance in other parts of the world that might not be heard. It’s an exciting time as the music industry reinvents itself.”

Adds Akon, “This is an idea I wanted to do in 2010. But at that time, the music business hadn’t matured and diversified the way it has in terms of being open to new genre fusions and not as compartmentalized. We just want to bring a fresh ear and build an artist-driven company where people can be as creative as they wish without someone telling them what they have to do.”

Massenburg, who also manages Akon, is best-known as the guiding force behind the neo-soul movement that brought artists such as Erykah Badu, India.Arie and D’Angelo to the forefront. Massenburg served as president/CEO of Motown from the late ‘90s until 2004. Pre- and post-Motown, he operated his own firm Kedar Entertainment as president/CEO. Massenburg first met Akon when the latter was an artist under a joint venture with Universal/Motown/SRC.

A five-time Grammy Award nominee, Akon cemented his musical fame with a string of hits beginning in 2004 that include "Locked Up," "Lonely," "Smack That" featuring Eminem, “I Wanna Love You” featuring Snoop Dogg and “Don’t Matter.” In addition to collaborating with Dr. Dre, Ozuna, Pitbull and Michael Jackson, among others, Akon signed a then-unknown Lady Gaga to his former KonLive imprint.

Beyond the aforementioned rollout of new music by the Akonik Label Group in 30 days, Akon and Massenburg note that announcements about festival performances and tour plans are in the works.

Of launching ALG, Massenburg further adds, “I’ve always been left of center. Being joined at the hip now with a global artist like Akon, we’re ready to open ALG’s doors to new creative—not cookie-cutter—talent.”

“I’ve always liked how disruptive Kedar is,” says Akon. “He’ll ride or die for something he believes in. We have that in common—and both of us are fearless."


THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.