UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP ACQUIRES ICONIC UK LABEL ORIENTAL STAR AGENCIES’ COMPLETE CATALOGUE, SUPERCHARGING EXPOSURE TO SOUTH ASIAN MUSIC MARKET
Acquisition of eminent South Asian catalogue spanning over 50 years and multiple genres brings legendary artists to a global audience
Left to Right: Mohammed Twaseen (Chino), Adam Granite, Mohammed Saleem, Mohammed Zabir
Photo Credit: Carsten Windhorst
London, January 4, 2023 – Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leader in music-based entertainment, today announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase the catalogue of iconic UK-based South Asian record label Oriental Star Agencies (OSA Ltd). The deal includes all of the label’s recordings and where held, publishing rights.
A slice of over 50 years of South Asian culture and heritage, the catalogue comprises approximately 18,000 songs, concert and video recordings, featuring legendary and genre defining Pakistani and Indian artists. The acquisition is another demonstration of UMG’s strategy to accelerate its growth in high potential music markets around the world. The Asian music market grew by 15.4% in 2022 according to the IFPI, the record labels’ global trade body, with overall revenues from the region accounting for 22.9% of the global market.
OSA Ltd is a UK-based label with strong local and international ties and a unique history. Founded in 1966 by Muhammad Ayyub and his brothers, who moved from Pakistan to the West Midlands in 1961, the label was borne out of Ayyub’s deep love for music and nostalgia for the music of his childhood. Initially approaching EMI to stock these titles, he went on to import records from Pakistan and India, as he sought to meet the demand of his local community who also craved the authentic sound of their motherland.
From these local community origins grew the most prominent South Asian record label in the UK. OSA Ltd can be credited with not only introducing authentic South Asian music to a British audience, but also playing a pivotal role in the establishment of the UK Bhangra genre and launching the careers of numerous significant British and South Asian artists.
Highlights in the catalogue include Malkit Singh (who became the top-selling Bhangra artist worldwide with nearly 5 million album sales), Bally Sagoo, Attaullah Khan and legendary GRAMMY nominated artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who has recorded over 125 albums. In 2002, the music of OSA Ltd found a fresh audience when several label tracks were featured on the Bend It Like Beckham soundtrack. In recognition of this trailblazing contribution to the South Asian music landscape, in 2014, Ayyub was awarded an MBE honour for service to broadcasting, Asian music and community services. In 2017 the OSA Ltd owners finalised a sale to Hi-Tech Music Ltd, another British record label with a strong history spanning 35 years.
The acquisition complements UMG’s current service offering and will help drive momentum for the South Asian music market, enabling local artists to reach the largest possible audience in the global community.
Adam Granite, Executive Vice President of Market Development at Universal Music Group said: “This acquisition of a hugely successful and iconic British-Asian label specialising in South Asian music will further increase Universal Music Group’s exposure to, and participation in, a fast growing and rapidly changing market. I am particularly pleased that Universal Music Group will become the next custodian of Oriental Star Agencies, a label that has played an unparalleled role in bridging the musical identities of the UK and South Asia, taking the unique sounds of its artists to a broad audience. We believe this catalogue has huge potential, and look forward to taking it to the next generation of music fans globally.”
Mohammed Twaseen (Chino), OSA Ltd, said: “This is a momentous day for OSA and all our artists. Becoming part of the UMG family will turbo-charge our South Asian music, helping it to get in front of more music fans across the world. The past decade has seen a true global explosion of music from the region, and now, under UMG’s stewardship, the next decade promises to be even more exciting.”
About Universal Music Group
At Universal Music Group, we exist to shape culture through the power of artistry. UMG is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising, and audiovisual content. Featuring the most comprehensive catalogue of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation, and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms, and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. For more information, visit www.universalmusic.com.
About Oriental Star Agencies (OSA)
Oriental Star Agencies (OSA) was established in 1966 in Birmingham, England. It started from humble beginnings with a small shop selling transistor radios. At that time there were many Asians settling in Birmingham. A few cinemas featured Asian films on Sunday afternoons but there was no other source of entertainment for the Asian Diaspora. In 1967, it started importing Indian and Pakistani records and the response were phenomenal. This led to OSA becoming wholesale music specialists shipping records to other shops in the UK. There were very few musical groups of Asian origin in the UK during this time and it was rare to see live performances. OSA started to produce records in 1969. The STAR label was set up and the first bands signed were Anari Sangeet Party and Bhujangy Party from Birmingham. They sang traditional Punjabi songs and became very popular within the Asian Community. Bhujangy Group’s first major hit “Bhabiye Akh Larr Gayee,” which was released in the early seventies, was the first song in which modern western musical instruments were used along with traditional Asian music and sounds. This proved to be a momentous step for the music and for future aspiring artistes. Other OSA artists at that time included famous folk singers such as late Alam Lohar, Shaukat Ali, Swarn Lata, and Narinder Biba. In the early seventies, OSA recorded the renowned Pakistani artists Ghulam Ali, Sabri Brothers Qawwals, and Atta Ullah Khan Essakhailvi. In 1978, OSA introduced to the world an artist who would go on to become one of the greatest Asian stars, the legendary late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. OSA is proud to have played a leading role in the emergence of music from the Asian sub-continent and produces music enjoyed by fans of all backgrounds from all over the world.
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