LONDON – Warner is looking to grow its share of the fast-developing music market in Southeast Asia with the opening of its first dedicated office in Vietnam.
Based in Ho Chi Minh City, Warner Music Vietnam will be led by managing director Lisa Nguyen, who joins the major from digital media company Zing Media, owned by Vietnam’s VNG Corporation.
Nguyen reports to Warner Music Asia president Simon Robson. He called the opening of a Vietnam office “a milestone moment” in the record company’s ongoing international expansion plans.
“This is a crucial moment in the development of Vietnam’s digital music market and it’s vital that we have a presence on the ground,” said Robson.
The launch of Warner Music Vietnam comes six months after major label rival Universal Music Group opened a new Southeast Asia headquarters in Singapore supporting A&R and marketing teams in Malaysia, Indonesia, Indochina, Thailand, and the Philippines — a territory that encompasses some 650 million people.
As first announced at the “All That Matters” conference in Singapore last year, UMG is also pressing ahead with its plans to open a dedicated Vietnam office in Ho Chi Minh.
Billboard has learned that experienced executive Khanh Lan Phung will take up the position of general manager, Universal Music Vietnam, when the office opens its doors later this spring.
Phung joins UMG from Vietnam-based entertainment multi-media group Yan Media Group, where she served as general manager since 2008. She will report to Calvin Wong, CEO Universal Music Southeast Asia and SVP, Asia.
Sony Music also operates a representative office in Communist Party-ruled Vietnam, based in the capital city Hanoi.
Music sales figures for Vietnam, which has a population of around 100 million, are not available. The biggest recorded music market in Southeast Asia, according to IFPI data, is Indonesia, which generated just over $41 million in music sales in 2018, nearly 100% of which came from streaming, mobile personalization and other digital purchases by a new generation of young, tech-savvy music fans.
“It’s an honor to lead Warner Recorded Music’s expansion into Vietnam,” said Lisa Nguyen in a statement. She said the country has “long had a thriving local music scene and a love for global acts” and that Warner’s expansion into the market would enable the label to harness that “huge enthusiasm.”
Among the first signings to Warner Music Vietnam are domestic acts Vũ and Chillies. According to WMG, Warner-signed acts held four of the top five tracks on Spotify in Vietnam last week, including two songs by Dua Lipa and two songs by Chillies, who topped the chart with their major label debut single “Vùng Ký Ức.” The rock-pop-style track has had more than 2 million views on YouTube since being released Mar. 27.
“We’re hitting the ground running and signing some amazing artists, while exposing a new huge audience to our brilliant international acts,” said Nguyen.
Last month, Warner Music announced that it was opening a new office in India, headed by Jay Mehta, as part of a wider global strategy by the majors to ramp up investment in local repertoire in both primary and secondary developing markets.
The past 12 months have additionally seen WMG open dedicated offices in Turkey and Peru, acquire Slovakian entertainment company Forza Music, Monsp in Finland and sign a partnership deal with Nigerian record label Chocolate City.