Leading Indie Record Label With Strong Live Business Joins WMG Family

Johannesburg, September 16th 2021 – Warner Music South Africa has acquired leading local independent label Coleske. The label, which is led by Arnold Coleske, together with his business partner Brendon Hargroves, and Paulo Azevedo, will continue to be run as a standalone business following the acquisition.

Coleske is the largest independent label focusing on Afrikaans repertoire, which makes up a significant proportion of the South African music market, with other players including Select Musiek, owned by Sony Music Entertainment, and Inhoud Huis, which has a partnership with Universal Music Group.

The deal is the latest milestone in Warner Music’s expansion in Africa, which has included the opening of its South African affiliate in 2013, its deal with Nigeria’s Chocolate City in 2019, its partnership with Ziiki Media and investment in Africori in 2020, and its agreement with Diamond Platnumz and his WCB-Wasafi label earlier this year.

Coleske specialises in pop music performed in Afrikaans, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages, and has a roster of top artists, including Appel, Bobby van Jaarsveld, Demi Lee Moore, Dewald Wasserfal, Elvis Blue, Jay, Karlien Van Jaarsveld, Riaan Benade, Riana Nel and Ruhan du Toit.

Several of Coleske’s artists perform, in English, Country music, a genre with a strong following in South Africa. Plugging into Warner Music’s global network will help them increasingly collaborate with artists from other markets, including with those on Warner Music Nashville’s roster.

The label also has a successful live business, with its major flagship event being the annual ‘Afrikaans is Groot’ concert in Johannesburg, the largest Afrikaans music gig in the world. These capabilities will also be harnessed for Warner Music’s local and international artists, when live events resume in South Africa.

Coleske is also behind the successful Die Kontrak, the South African TV talent show on which several of its artists sit as judges. The label is in talks with broadcasters to create The Contract, an English language version of the show, and Warner Music plans to bring the format to other emerging markets in Africa and beyond.

Arnold Coleske says: “As an artist myself, I’ve seen the business from both sides. We’ve built an amazing business here in South Africa, and I know that partnering with Warner Music will take it to the next level. Our artists can benefit from its global firepower, while still enjoying the boutique support of the team they know and trust at Coleske.”

Alfonso Perez-Soto, President, Emerging Markets, Warner Recorded Music, adds: “This is an exciting partnership that’ll see us grow our presence in the South African music market, while also supporting Coleske’s amazing artists worldwide. We’re not only catching up with our major competitors, who’ve been active in this genre for many years, we’re overtaking them. We’ll also be harnessing Coleske’s live infrastructure for the benefit of all our local and global stars in South Africa, significantly expanding our artist value proposition in the market.”