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Top record labels in South Africa

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top record labels in south africa

Universal Music Group – Africa

Universal Music Group is the world’s largest record label, with a presence in 60 countries. It was formed through the merger of several brands including EMI, Capitol Records, and Universal Music Group (UMG).

UMG is a subsidiary of French media conglomerate Vivendi. The company has headquarters in Los Angeles and New York City and operates as a part of Sony Music Entertainment globally.

Sony Music Entertainment Africa Pty Ltd

Sony Music Entertainment Africa Pty Ltd is a record label founded in 1997. The label is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and has a large market share in the South African music industry. Sony was launched by Sony and BMG as independent companies of each other. In May 2004, Sony’s 50% ownership of their joint venture with BMG ended when it acquired full control of its operations from Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), who had held an interest since 1987.[3]

In 1982, to further solidify its presence in the country’s growing recording industry, Sony signed an agreement for distribution rights with S-Records (Stern’s Records), which later became Delta Music[4].

In 1991, Sony entered into a distribution deal with EMI Records South Africa Pty Ltd., giving them access to artists such as The Rolling Stones and Dire Straits[5]. In 1997 they established their own subsidiary company called S2K Entertainment (Pty) Ltd., better known as just “Sony South Africa” or “Sony Music SA”. This allowed them more autonomy when managing their own talent contracts while allowing them continued access through EMI’s publishing arm.[6][7][8]

Just Music

Just Music is a South African record label founded by Oskido. The company has a diverse roster of artists including DJ Fisherman, Georgy, Dj Tira, Mshoza and Professor.

Just Music is one of the few labels that can rightly be called an institution in South African music.

The label has also been home to some of the country’s most important producers such as Kabelo Mabalane and Sello “Chicco” Twala who helped shape kwaito into what it is today before going on to found their own labels (KidzKlash Recordings & Hungry Music).

Ambitiouz Entertainment

Ambitiouz Entertainment is a record label based in Johannesburg, South Africa. They were founded in 2007 by Lwanda ‘Mewe’ Nkosi and Kazi Maphanga. Their artists include Pepani and Lil Duval (who also serves as vice president).

The label has released several notable singles including:

  • “Bling Bling” by DJ Tira featuring Cassper Nyovest and Anatii
  • “Gangsta Rap” by Anatii

Notable songs from Ambitiouz Entertainment include “Sugar”, “Zone”, “Way Ahead”, “Shake it”, and more!

Kalawa Jazmee Records

Kalawa Jazmee Records is one of the most successful labels in South Africa. The label was founded in 1993 by Maxwell Dlomo, a young musician who had recently graduated from university and begun playing with his friends at local night clubs. The group quickly gained recognition for their unique sound and style, and they were soon signed to Kalawa Jazmee Records after they caught the attention of label executives during a live performance at Durban’s Bay Hotel.

The artists signed to this record label include Mafikizolo–a duo that has produced several hits since it was first formed in 1994–and other well-known acts such as Koos Kombuis, who has been active since 1978; Uhuru; Vusi Mahlasela (the only artist on this list that is not signed under Kalawa Jazmee Records); Bongani Fassie; Zola 7; Black Coffee; Nokukhanya; Gcina Mhlophe (also known as “Mama Africa”); Thandiswa Mazwai and many others!

Mabala Noise Entertainment

Mabala Noise Entertainment is a record label based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was founded by Reggie Nkabinde and has signed artists such as Gigi Lamayne, Riky Rick and Nasty C over the years. The label’s current roster consists of only three artists: Gigi Lamayne, Riky Rick and Nasty C.

The label has been involved in controversies such as when Black Coffee publicly accused Mabala Noise Entertainment of assault during a party at the end of 2024.

South African hip hop is thriving in the country and this list of record labels will keep you up to date.

A&R Records:

South African hip hop is thriving in the country and this list of record labels will keep you up to date. The label that produced artists like Nasty C, Emtee and Mampintsha is also home to South African stars such as Da LES, DJ Tira and Riky Rick. If you’re interested in learning more about the artists who are breaking new ground in SA Hip Hop, check out this list of top record labels below!

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