Oriental Star Agencies acquired by Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group has reached a deal to buy the Birmingham-based South Asian record label Oriental Star Agencies (OSA).

Oriental Star Agencies acquired by Universal Music Group f

"In return, Universal are getting a huge deal with this."

Universal Music Group has agreed to buy Oriental Star Agencies (OSA), a pioneering South Asian record label that was set up in Birmingham in the 1960s.

OSA was established by Mohammed Ayyub in Balsall Heath in 1969 because he missed Pakistani music when he came to the UK.

Oriental Star Agencies was a trailblazer when it came it introducing Punjabi and Qawwali music in the UK.

The label launched the careers of several British Asian artists, including Bhujhangy Group, which were the first popular Bhangra artists to record and perform songs in the 1970s.

OSA described the agreement with Universal as “turbo-charged”.

According to Universal, the deal will include OSA’s entire catalogue comprising of 18,000 songs, concert and video recordings.

However, it is unclear how much the company will pay for the acquisition.

Industry expert Sunjay Kholi said the catalogue featured prominent artists including the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Malkit Singh, who featured on the movie soundtrack to Bend it Like Beckham.

Universal described OSA as “the most prominent South Asian record label in the UK”.

It added that the acquisition was “another demonstration of UMG’s strategy to accelerate its growth in high-potential music markets around the world”.

Paying tribute to OSA’s legacy, senior account manager at YouTube Mr Kholi said it was a “huge” deal for both parties.

In addition to unlocking global distribution, Mr Kholi said Universal provided access to better marketing and technology, editorial support and reach.

He added: “In return, Universal are getting a huge deal with this.

“India is the second biggest music market when it comes to streaming consumption – second only to the US.”

Oriental Star Agencies’ catalogue of artists and performers is extensive and varied.

Mr Ayyub sourced musicians from all parts of South Asia and gave them a platform to be heard, previously telling DESIblitz:

“The catalogue is not only Bhangra artists, it’s qawwali. It’s classical music, folk music.”

“There’s a vast amount of catalogue and is very very popular.

“We have introduced not only Bhangra throughout the world, qawwali as well.”

“And qawwali not only became a worldwide phenomenon, it became a Bollywood hit and now most of the films and the singers are copying Nusrat Saab’s tunes.

“Even today, after he died in 1997. Still people love his qawwalis.”

In 2014, Mr Ayyub received an MBE.

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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