Aristokrat Group, the Nigerian entertainment company responsible for breaking acts like Burna Boy, Leriq, Pucado and Mojeed and currently housing Kel P, Ceeza Milli and TNeeya under its Aristokrat Records music imprint, has announced a new partnership with Universal Music Group which includes a label deal with Universal Music France and a publishing deal through Universal Music Publishing Group.
Under the deal, Aristokrat, it is believed, will take on developing fresh African talent and then launch these artists on the world scale through Caroline France, a Universal Music France subsidiary. The label’s first project, The Sounds of Africa, is said to be coming in August and expected to feature Kel P, T’neeya and Jujuboy, the three artists Aristokrat is floating the partnership with Universal with and more.
This deal marks another step in the right direction for Nigerian labels looking to break artists into the rest of the world. It is another display of transparency between Nigerian labels and western powers, building on YBNL’s joint venture deal with Empire that was announced in February. We have moved from deals being announced and never really seeing what goes into them to learning exactly what these partnerships have in store for both parties.
Speaking to Billboard on the new deal, Aristokrat Group CEO, Piriye Isokari, popularly known as Peedi Picasso, expressed the desire to move beyond building artists around individual artists, much like Aristokrat did initially with Burna Boy. He said “The African-Nigerian industry is very artist-focused, artist-driven, and there are not enough proper business entities or institutions that as labels have succeeded or survived. We wanted to change that narrative and build a more sustainable long-term business out of the label business, which to date hasn’t been achieved in my opinion.”
While Aristokrat initially became a label to reckon with off its connection with Burna Boy, its continued presence and place as a big player in the Nigerian music industry, since the African Giant’s departure in 2015 is a testament to the presence of some of these structures that Isokari speaks of.
Part of this success has no doubt come from building a multi-layered business. Aristokrat Group consists of its record label Aristokrat Records, a podcast network Midas Radio with shows like I Said What I Said and Aristokrat 360, a management company, to name a few of its numerous business ventures.