Hinged on the early 2000s global discovery of African music, and the palpable euphoria of the ‘Afrobeats to the World’ movement, local and foreign music business entrepreneurs set out to understand the African music industry. As at the time though, the music business in Africa was an unrefined concept. While people did business, the scene was unpredictable. Its rule of engagement was daedalian. Like the soundscape itself, the industry was an ever changing maze without a master- and many who wanted to navigate it were understandably cautious.
In comes Mavin Records. On May 8th 2022, the label celebrated a decade of existence. However, the story of Africa’s biggest record label and entertainment powerhouse is one of spontaneous innovation, sheer impetus, bullish belief and utter genius. Now, 10 years since its inception, Mavin is irrevocably woven into the brilliant tapestry of Africa’s pop culture. For 10 years, the label has supplied the world with a repertoire of classic music, unforgettable performances, and perhaps most importantly- a glimpse at the possibility of a working structure for music business in Africa.
In 2004, legendary Afrobeats producer, visionary, and Mavin Global’s founder, Don Jazzy had just returned from the United Kingdom. He would co-found the now defunct Mo’Hits- legacy music label, and the first home of some of the most impactful Afrobeats talents of the 21st century. Eight years later, in the spring of 2012, Don Jazzy would start Mavin Records in what was perhaps a watershed moment in the history of the music business in Africa. Aided by his cousin, and C.O.O, Tega Oghenejobo, Mavin Records would be responsible for the careers of three generations of Afrobeats superstars in its first decade of operations. Having worked with the likes of Wande Coal and Iyanya, the first group would also include Tiwa Savage, Reekado Banks, Korede Bello, Dija, Dr Sid, and D’Prince. These talents would punctuate Mavin Records’ earlier years and set the tone for the success the label would enjoy in the years that followed.
From 2012 to 2018, the label embarked on a prolific sonic era unlike anything ever seen in the continent’s music scene. Through creative collaboration and innovative partnerships, the label created what was arguably, the most dynamic and successful artiste roster in Africa. In an age that lacked the viral potential that social media now presents and the explosive value of the digital revolution, Mavin Records grew nonetheless. Without a manual for how to operate a music business in Nigeria, the label thrived on a business topography, model, and, ideology it dictated for itself.
In 2019, even as the world’s biggest labels started planting roots in Africa, Mavin Records emerged as one of the global music industry stories of the year. Kupanda Holdings- a joint venture between pan-Africa investment company Kupanda Capital and TPG Growth- made an investment worth millions of dollars in Mavin Records. Following the investment, the label would adopt a new name- Mavin Global- to reflect their new ambition. They scaled up; acquired world class offices, a more diverse and competent workforce, broadened their scope of operations to include marketing, content production, publishing and licensing, and adopted a more robust artist roster. The plan was clear- take over the world.
“Our mission is to grow Mavin Global into the music powerhouse of Africa. By collaborating with artists, African creatives, local and international partners, we can become a globally recognized household name and the go-to platform for connecting African music with the world,” were Don Jazzy’s exact words in the aftermath of the investment.
Three years after that famed investment, the label celebrates 10 years as Mavin Global- Africa’s foremost record label and entertainment powerhouse. The company has morphed into one of the continent’s most famous companies, boasting a roster of global superstars like Rema, Johnny Drille, Ayra Starr, Ladipoe, Crayon, DJ Big N, and newly unveiled academy products – Magixx and Boy Spyce. Outside their traditional offerings, the company collaborates with creators across Africa to provide services in film and content production, licensing and publishing, Brand Partnerships, and more.
Gearing for another decade, Mavin Global will look to harness their experience, the digital revolution, and innovative partnerships in their bid to create an ideal future for the global export of Afrobeats. The company will also look to further tap into Africa’s creative ecosystem and aid the growth of the creative industry. Beyond the sound, the label has also committed to continue mentoring Africa’s future music business executives through their annual Mavin Future Five leadership initiative.
Hats off to Mavin at 10. This one’s to the leader of the new school of Afrobeats avant-gardists.