New York-based music company Reservoir is developing in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) through a joint venture agreement with PopArabia, the leading music publisher and music rights consultancy in the region.
PopArabia was founded in 2011 by Hussain "Spek" Yoosuf, until recently Senior Vice President of A&R at Reservoir, and former member of Canadian hip hop band Dream Warriors.
As part of the agreement, Spek will be relocating to Dubai and returning to his post as President of PopArabia, which he relinquished when he joined Reservoir in 2015. In his new position, he will be "leading Reservoir’s international and emerging markets strategy, including the signing and development of local talent and export of Arabic and international music around the world, through this new joint venture and role," according to a statement.
Increasingly important markets
“Spek’s transition has come at a perfect time for Reservoir and PopArabia and we could not think of a more suitable entrepreneur for this role,” said Reservoir Founder and CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi.
As part of this new joint venture, PopArabia will assume the role of sub-publisher for all of Reservoir’s copyrights in the area, including collecting and distributing royalties and licensing music for synch. PopArabia claims to represent "an estimated 60% of the market share of global music publishing repertoire and an array of recorded music in the region," through representation agreement with leading publisher such as Sony/ATV, Kobalt and peermusic among others.
“The UAE and the Middle East are becoming increasingly important global markets and we’re eager to expand our operations to include a renewed focus in these territories,” said Reservoir President and COO Rell Lafargue.“There are over 420 million Arabic speakers in the world, but less than 3% of content available online is in Arabic."
Exposing Western usic
Lafargue continued: "We intend to grow that number through the signing, development, and export of local talent, while using PopArabia and Abu Dhabi as gateways to other emerging markets including India, Asia, and Africa. Our partnership will work both ways, as we will bring additional exposure of Western music to those emerging markets.”
PopArabia was launched as a portfolio investment with support from Abu Dhabi’s media free zone twofour54. "We are delighted to welcome Reservoir into the fold and are excited about the opportunities the company will bring to the UAE,” said Michael Garin, CEO of twofour54.
“I’m thrilled about this next phase in the PopArabia story, and very bullish about the opportunities internationally for Reservoir," said Spek. "It has been a pivotal five years working closely with Golnar, Rell, and the entire team through an incredible period of growth. I could not have found a better partner to help expand PopArabia and am excited to drive Reservoir’s next steps into new markets.”