Posted on January 30, 2023 | By Yvonne Martin

TikTok & Rotana Music Group Announce New Licensing Agreement

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Arab world’s leading independent record label, Rotana Music, signs a new beneficial deal with TikTok. The entertainment empire had also secured an agreement with Warner Music Group (WMG) in 2021, where the latter bought a minority stake.

Sharing its vast music repertoire with WMG, Rotana allowed the label to expand its presence in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), creating cross-cultural opportunities.

At the time, Simon Robson, WMG’s President, had released a statement saying: 

“The Middle East and North Africa region is among the most culturally dynamic places in the world today, with burgeoning musical scenes and dramatic consumption growth. We’re thrilled to be joining with Rotana, whose significant presence in the market reflects its extraordinary roster of musical icons and outstanding talent. We’re especially excited about the opportunity to both expand our profile in the region and to bring these amazing artists to audiences across the globe.”

The CEO of Rotana Music Holding, Mr. Salem Al Hendi had expressed his own thoughts on the matter:

“This is an exciting time, and we at Rotana are very happy with this partnership, which will facilitate Warner Music’s reach into the MENA music industry and fan communities, just as it will benefit Rotana in our global expansion objective.”

“The creative culture in MENA is so vibrant and diverse, and this partnership will enhance the exchange of music and ideas, while promoting and supporting local artists on the global stage. I would like to congratulate His Royal Highness Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal on this win-win partnership, which is aligned with Saudi Vision 2030 to keep pace with changes taking place globally, including in entertainment and the digital music landscape.”

Now TikTok joins in to get a piece of the pie and seals a striking licensing agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Rotana Music Group. Established in 1993 and headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the company has branches in Jeddah, Dubai, Kuwait, Cairo, and Beirut.

Rotana has been the home of many prolific musicians such as Mohamad Abdo, Abdulmajeed Abdullah, Rabeh Saqer, Rashed Al Majed, Abdullah Al Ruwaished, Nawal Al Kuwaitia, Majid Al Mohandis, and many other prominent figures from that region.

The Saudi Arabian holding offers a rich catalog that includes artists from the Levant, Egypt, and North Africa, including big stars like Amr Diab, Elissa, Tamer Hosny, Najwa Karam, Shereen Abdalwahab, Angham, Wael Kfoury, Saber Al Robae, and more.

In an official announcement, TikTok announces that its platform is “hugely popular across the Middle East and North Africa.” According to the IFPI reports, MENA has proved to be the fastest-growing music region in the world, where the market revenues grew by 35% in 2021 alone.

The MENA music market mostly relies on streaming, which represents 95.3% of the region’s recorded music revenues. Based on Statista’s 2022 estimates, KSA was the country with the highest TikTok reach with 88% of the users being 18 years and older.

Speaking of the new signing, Mr. Al Hendi, says: 

“We at Rotana are very thrilled with this licensing agreement, which will facilitate Arab Music reach into the MENA music industry and young communities. The creative culture in MENA is so vibrant and diverse, and this agreement will enhance the exchange of music content, while promoting and supporting local artists on a proven leading platform for short-form videos.”

The Head of Music – Middle East, Africa and South Asia, Hari Nair, also added: 

“As TikTok continues to grow across the Middle East and North Africa, becoming a cultural force in the region, we’re delighted to bring the biggest independent catalog to our platform. Rotana Music Group represents some of the greatest names in music, spanning multiple genres and countries and we know our community will be inspired by this repertoire for their own video creations.”

With nearly 5 million users in the UAE alone, TikTok has become one of the most popular apps in the MENA region. Explaining their recent move, the video-sharing company revealed: 

“TikTok is committed to licensing and ensuring a broad, diverse range of sounds in our library for our global community to enjoy.”

Rotana Music has taken major global actions, signing partnerships with Anghami, WMG, and TikTok. The latter has also been approached by the three majors Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group for a share of advertising revenues generated on the platform. 

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