Chabaka's CEO Ala'a Makki will continue to lead the company and support key team members in further expanding Chabaka's presence across geographies and business lines.
Universal Music Group (UMG) has finalised an agreement for the acquisition of Chabaka, a digitally-focused music distribution enterprise in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Chabaka specialises in digital distribution, marketing, publishing, and artist services, empowering independent artists and labels to flourish.
Established in 2013 by brothers Ala’a and Tarek Makki, Chabaka rapidly became a pivotal partner for independent music creators seeking guidance in MENA’s ever-evolving music landscape. With a stronghold in the region, Chabaka supports more than 150 independent artists and regional labels, fostering a culture of innovation that has contributed to the growth of its regional song and recording catalogue.
Commenting on the agreement, Ala’a Makki, Co-Founder and CEO of Chabaka, said: “These are inspiring times for the Arab region, which is one of the fastest-growing music markets in the world. We are thrilled to announce our partnership with UMG at this junction of our journey. Joining forces with the largest music label in the world coincides with Chabaka’s 10th anniversary and marks an important milestone and a new phase for the company, its artists, and labels. This transaction will bring together UMG’s global presence and expertise with Chabaka’s strong relationships and deep local repertoire. Together with UMG, we will drive the transformation of the regional music industry and take it to new places, while creating new possibilities for local artists.”
Ala’a Makki believes that the Gulf region, Levant, Egypt, and North Africa are some of the most exciting places to be in terms of alternative, indie, and underground music. MENA recorded the world’s fastest revenue growth in 2021 at 34%, and ranked third in 2022 at 23.8%, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents the recording industry worldwide.
Global industry figures also show how popular streaming is in the region. For example, people living in the UAE listen to an average of 22.5 hours of music a week, 22% higher than the global average. More than 480m Arabic speakers live in the Arab countries, and with a huge global Arab diaspora maintaining its connection to its roots, this market has significant room for growth, particularly as the MENA region only accounts for 0.4% of global music revenues currently.
Tarek Makki, Co-Founder of Chabaka, added: “The region is at an inflection point, and this acquisition was the natural next step for us, our employees, and artists. A top priority for Chabaka was to select a partner that takes us to new heights while safeguarding our artists’ interests and bringing them new upstreaming opportunities at a global level, and who better to help us achieve that than the world leader in the music entertainment business and a company that deeply values innovation and entrepreneurship. Our shared vision is to continue fostering the incredible talents of this region and expanding their reach to a global audience. With UMG’s global platform, expertise, technology, and network, and Chabaka’s deep-rooted local experience, presence, and innovative strategies for artists’ management and revenue growth, we’re all set to bring an extraordinary and unique offering to the market.”
The acquisition strategically complements UMG’s presence in the rapidly growing MENA market. The collaboration will bolster UMG’s services for independent labels and artists and align with their strategy to expand in promising music markets worldwide.
Post-acquisition, Chabaka will integrate into UMG’s Virgin Music Group, capitalising on Virgin Music Group’s innovative solutions and global reach. Ala’a Makki will continue to lead the company with support from key members of the Chabaka team.
Tarek Makki will remain as an advisor while also continuing to lead Concast and Boomerang Studios, the other two companies within CHBK Group, which will rebrand following the acquisition.
Patrick Boulos, CEO, MENA Region, UMG, stated: “The MENA region is one of the fastest growing music markets in the world, representing untapped potential and opportunity. Chabaka is a unique collection of visionary leaders, artists, and labels and gives us both scale and opportunity, especially when combined with UMG’s world-leading global platform. I am particularly pleased that Ala’a Makki and his team will join us and drive the next chapter of Chabaka’s success as part of the UMG family. The team is completely tuned-in with the independent and indie music scene of the Arab region, from North Africa to the Gulf.”
Chabaka has been working with its clients to help them through their creative and commercial journeys and grow their fan base and revenues.
JT Myers, Co-CEO of Virgin Music Group, commented: “As we continue to expand our footprint in emerging territories all over the world, Chabaka represents an important creative hub in one of the world’s most promising music markets. Ala’a Makki and his team bring a level of expertise and knowledge that will enable them to create opportunities for our artists and labels in the expanding MENA region, and in turn, we will be able to grow the global audience for Chabaka’s amazing roster of artists and labels.”