World's leading music company buys majority stake in Kenyan label AI Records

AI Records owns one of the largest catalogues of East African music in the world.

The acquisition was made by Universal’s Dutch subsidiary (Universal International Music BV) for an undisclosed fee.

The deal gives the music company rights to archive, digitise and begin selling East African music internationally.

AI Records was founded in the 1950s by Michael Andrews whose son, John Andrews, heads up the business today. The Nairobi-based record label owns one of the largest catalogues of East African music in the world.

Its roster includes recordings by local stars such as Orchestra Super Mazembe and Afro 70.

The Andrews family will retain 30% ownership in the label, which will digitise its catalogue as part of the Universal partnership.

Universal's acquisition is only the latest of a number of significant investments in Africa's music industry by local and international firms.

New-York based Kobalt Music Group has reportedly just struck a worldwide administration deal with established Nigerian publisher Replete.

In early February, telecoms giant Safaricom launched a music streaming application, Songa which has a catalogue of more than 400,000 artistes, including those signed with another multinational, Sony Music Entertainment.

Warner Music Group last year signed a deal with another local streaming service, Mdundo, to make available its catalogue of music to Mdundo’s 1.5 million monthly users

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