Universal becomes first major music label to open a branch in Israel

Entertainment giant wants to focus on signing and developing ‘domestic talent’; Tel Aviv office to be led by former Hot executive Yoram Mokady

The Universal Music Groups corporate headquarters in Santa Monica, California. (Google Street View)
The Universal Music Groups corporate headquarters in Santa Monica, California. (Google Street View)

Universal Music Group, one of the largest music corporations in the United States, has become the first major American music company to open a branch in Israel.

UMG announced the development on its corporate website Tuesday, saying in a statement: “Universal Music Israel will focus on the signing and developing of domestic artist talent, alongside exploring creative opportunities for commercial partnerships, new technology and innovation for artists, labels and partners within Israel.”

UMG Israel will be based in Tel Aviv and led by Yoram Mokady, who is moving over from local Israeli cable television provider Hot Communications where he served as a vice president in charge of content.

“We are excited to announce the arrival of UMG, the world’s leading music company into Israel, which will provide a welcome boost for the entire Israeli artist community, whilst strengthening the wider music ecosystem within the country,” Mokady said in the statement.

In a post to his Facebook page Mokady wrote, “I’m happy to establish another hatch for exporting of local crafts and talent, in this case for the global music industry and locate opportunities for new business partnerships and technologies.

Posted by Yoram Mokady on Friday, September 18, 2015

The news comes days after it was announced that 19-year-old pop star Noa Kirel signed a multimillion-dollar record deal with Atlantic Records — possibly the largest ever for an Israeli artist.

Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Lady Gaga are among the recording artists who have released music through labels owned by Universal.

According to a Tuesday report from Billboard, major labels such as Universal, Sony Music and Warner have engaged in an international music “arms race,” branching out into several countries to develop and sign local talent.

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