Universal Music Makes a Bigger Bet on Southeast Asia

Adam Granite
Courtesy of UMG

Adam Granite during a speech at All That Matters conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Singapore.

As part of a regionalization strategy, the label opens new hub in Singapore, and label offices for Def Jam and Astralwerks.

SINGAPORE — Universal Music Group is pushing further into Asia, with a new Southeast Asia headquarters here that will feature hubs for Def Jam and Astralwerks, and a plan to pump up local assets in Vietnam and other countries in the fast-growing music region.  

The label opened the doors to a new office this week that will support A&R and marketing teams in Malaysia, Indonesia, Indochina, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore -- a territory that encompasses some 700 million people.

The sweeping plan includes launching hip hop label Def Jam in Southeast Asia, as well as a hub for dance label Astralwerks. Also joining the Singapore office will be Ingrooves, a B2B label distribution business, and Spinnup, which is focused on emerging DYI artists who are starting out.  

Universal’s strategy signals an emphasis on localized A&R, and a shift away from the traditional way that music labels oversaw emerging markets, which usually entailed tight-fisted control from far-off offices in the U.S. or Europe.

"What we are trying to get away from is the colonial approach," Adam Granite, UMG’s evp for market development, said in an interview. "The reality is you need people on the ground who have relevancy and understand the local culture, in a way I never will because I didn’t grow up here."