UnitedMasters expands its reach into Africa, partners with Nigerian producer Sarz to ’empower the next generation of African talent’
Steve Stoute’s music distribution and artist services company UnitedMasters has struck a partnership with Nigerian producer, Sarz, to “unlock new opportunities for African artists”.
Sarz is described by UnitedMasters as “an award-winning producer and starmaker”. He’s behind hits for artists such as Wizkid, Drake, Tiwa Savage, CKay, LoJay, and Chris Brown.
According to Stoute, “Sarz possesses an incredible eye and ear for talent, has an impressive track record, and is the ideal partner for us as we expand to Africa.”
In addition to this partnership with Sarz, earlier this year UnitedMasters partnered with Nigeria-based independent label Mavin Records to release a single for DJ Big N ft Ayra Starr & Oxlade, How Many Times.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday (June 13), the new partnership with Sarz aims to “discover, develop, and empower the next generation of African artists”.
Under this collaboration, UnitedMasters says it will “empower” Sarz’s imprint, 1789, to partner with and develop African artists across the continent while leveraging UnitedMasters’ platform “inclusive of brand, sync and artist services”.
UnitedMasters adds that the partnership “will provide transparency, access to brand and sync opportunities, and capital” for 1789 to develop talent from Africa.
News of UnitedMasters expansion to Africa via its partnerships with Sarz and Mavin Records arrives just over two years after the platform secured a $50 million Series B investment, led by Apple with additional funding from two existing backers: Google parent Alphabet and Andreessen Horowitz.
Six months later, in October 2021, UnitedMasters raised another $50 million in funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz. The new round valued the independent artist distribution platform at $550 million.
At the time, Steve Stoute said: “Every day we ask ourselves what more we can be doing to support our artists in finding success in a creator economy that often leaves the actual creators behind. Alongside our partners at a16z, we are going to double down on this mission, empowering artists to create and earn through reach, technology and partnerships.”
According to today’s announcement, Sarz “envisions utilizing this partnership to expand 1789 and UnitedMasters’ reach for artist discovery and catalog licensing in key African markets such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, and other Sub-Saharan African countries”.
As part of the partnership, UnitedMasters will support Sarz’s various initiatives, including The Sarz Academy Foundation, which supports the growth of artists and producers.
The announcement notes that The Sarz Academy has previously played a “pivotal role” in launching the careers of prominent talent such as P.Prime and Tempoe.
P.Prime has produced for Burna Boy, Fireboy DML and Wizkid, while Tempoe’s production for CKay’s Love Nwantiti has garnered over 8 billion streams worldwide.
UnitedMasters’ partnership with Sarz follows the news from last month that independent R&B superstar Brent Faiyaz had entered into what was described as “an unprecedented partnership with UnitedMasters”.
According to the announcement, Faiyaz signed a recording partnership with the company and started a new creative agency as a hub and home for his “independent endeavors”. The deal was reported by Billboard, citing sources, to be “rumored to be valued at close to $50 million”.
“My team and I have always been committed to supporting the development and empowerment of African music producers.”
Commenting on the partnership with United Masters, Sarz said: “My team and I have always been committed to supporting the development and empowerment of African music producers.
“Through this collaboration with UnitedMasters, we can now create even more global opportunities and resources for both artists and producers on the continent. As our partnership with UnitedMasters grows, we will explore different avenues to enhance the African music industry.”
“Our goal is to become a bridge connecting global markets through our platform.”
Steve Stoute, UnitedMasters
Steve Stoute, Founder and CEO of UnitedMasters, added: “Our goal is to become a bridge connecting global markets through our platform.
“Sarz possesses an incredible eye and ear for talent, has an impressive track record and is the ideal partner for us as we expand to Africa.
“This collaboration represents the first step towards achieving our mission of empowering independent artists at all steps of their career globally.”
Elsewhere at UnitedMasters, in May last year, the company launched a new platform for buying and selling beats called Beat Exchange.
In 2021 the company struck a partnership with cryptocurrency platform Coinbase to give indie artists the ability to be paid in crypto through Coinbase’s new payroll product.
The announcement followed UnitedMasters’ news from August 2021 about other new finance tools for indie artists, one of which, launched in partnership with beatBread, enables the distributor to offer qualifying artists advances ranging from $1,000 to $1 million.
UnitedMasters also inked a finance-related partnership with Paperchain, which uses algorithms to predict an artist’s royalty earnings based on their latest streaming data.Music Business Worldwide