One of the fastest-growing music markets around the world is the Middle East. As technological advances push forward a growing industry, the international music industry is starting to shift.
According to 2022’s Global Music Report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the Middle East and North Africa represented the fastest-growing territory of the year in 2021. The study identified that the region saw a 35% increase in music revenues during the period, ahead of the U.S., Latin America, and Canada. The increase means new opportunities for those on the front line in the industry willing to invest early in the untapped marketplace.
Global entertainment company Warner Music Group (WMG) is among the major industry players looking to take advantage of new opportunities overseas. A key deal that just took place is WMG’s acquisition of digital entertainment company Qanawat Music.
The deal between WMG and Qanawat represents one of the most substantial acquisitions in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa) to date in the media sector, intending to amplify and enhance the reach of Arabic music and entertainment into new markets. Qanawat is set to act as WMG’s primary local distributor and an important source of upstreaming opportunities, operating as a standalone company within WMGs network. As a result of the acquisition, Qanawat’s workforce will grow by 100 or more per cent.
WMG president of emerging markets Alfonso Perez-Soto said about the scope of the merger: “With this new deal, we have a massive opportunity to export exciting talent from the Middle East and North Africa – there is an important and growing Arab diaspora worldwide that we can tap into, which will help amplify the music.” The emerging Arab market has also opened up doors for marketing firms promoting the music.
Miami-based music marketing firm Research Warrant is another major company looking to take advantage of the current climate overseas. Research Warrant has helped market projects by artists such as Meek Mill, Lil Baby, Alicia Keys, Dua Lipa, SuicideBoys, and Sleepy Hallow. The firm stands on the front line of the industry, getting an interesting perspective on the rise of music in the Middle East.
“This is both a great time and a competitive time to be in the music sector,” Ahmad Taher, founder of Research Warrant, said. “There’s so much innovation, new technology popping up all over the place, and new means of revenue, tracking and transparency. It’s exciting, and I can imagine there’s going to be more development and acquisitions soon.”
Ultimately, convenient access to digital streaming platforms and a greater distribution push by regional music companies will open up new business for digital media companies and provide new opportunities to artists around the world.
The growth of Arabic music poses new opportunities for Taher and Research Warrant. “It’s a fast-growing area, for sure, we’ve worked on marketing more music originating from North America but there’s clearly opportunities for us across North Africa and the Middle East,” Taher said. As Research Warrant prepares to be a key player in the growth of music in the middle east, there are many moving pieces.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, said about the merger: “Warner Music Group’s acquisition of Qanawat Music is yet another entrepreneurial success story emerging from Dubai that demonstrates the vibrancy of its media ecosystem that has enabled many homegrown ventures to transform their innovative and ambitious projects into reality.”
“Over the past decade, a host of Dubai-born companies across sectors have leveraged the Emirate’s exceptional entrepreneurial environment to expand rapidly and attract the investment interest of global companies,” he added.
In 2021, Qanawat achieved over 200 billion total views and streams across digital streaming platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and Anghami, as well as through numerous social media channels. Currently, Qanawat offers its services in more than 20 countries.
Qanawat CEO, Adnan Al Obthani, added, “Our merger with Warner Music Group makes it possible for us to enhance our position as the leading digital music distributor and pioneers of creativity in the MENA region, with the largest and best Arabic entertainment and music content worldwide,”
“Warner Music Group has a long-term vision for developing the market here in MENA, and we are certain this new chapter of our story will unveil a world of exciting opportunities for artists, in addition to our entry into new areas of business including the Metaverse, NFTs and other creative fields,” he concluded.
With a plethora of exciting new partnerships and moves being made in MENA, Ahmad Taher is one of many who sees a chance to expand his business’s market share even further.
“In the next 3 years, I expect Research Warrant to be a monster of a media company. I expect us to be working with one top 5 project every week. Approaching that thought process from a global standpoint will be a part of our plans.”
“We try to give an understanding of how successful campaigns run,” explained Taher. “With successful ads, most people don’t realize they’re engaging with paid advertising when they see a song somewhere that seems organic on the internet, so educating our clients on how these processes work is important.”
“Another aspect is educating people on the psychology behind all this.” He continued. “A lot of people have a misconception and think about just getting in front of as many eyes as possible but that’s not always the best for conversions. You need to have a target audience in mind and figure out how to deliver them the message in a fashion that they’ll be receptive to.”
Taher added, “You want clients to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. That’s also super important when establishing a core fanbase in the beginning. Also understanding the psychology behind creating conversation and how to leverage conversation on the internet to drive the virality of a song or subject. These are all things to be cognizant of when boosting artists or regional music.”
The emergence of the Middle East music market adds an exciting new dimension to the overall international music scene for major music industry players. While the industry continues to shift, it will be interesting to see just how the emerging new markets in the MENA region affect the overall ecosystem and who else will jump into the excitement of overseas expansion.