If you are an Independent artist without a formal label structure, at some point you will need some assistance. Whether you are looking to submit a demo or do a joint venture, I have made things easier for you by compiling a list of record companies in South Africa that you might want to get in touch with.
Indies is short for Independent record companies.
David Grasham Records
I thought I should include David Gresham Records simply because they are the longest running independent record companies in South Africa. They have seen it all since opening their doors in 1972.
The label is still operating till this day and has worked with artists across all genres in South Africa. Some notable names on their roster (past and present) include Rouge, Eltonnick of Move fame, Slikour with Buttabing Entertainment , Amo Vittone and Bantu Soul just to name a few.
If you want to check out their local back catalogue you can visit the David Gresham Records website for more.
Ambitiouz Entertainment was founded in 2015 by Kgosi Mahumapelo. The label is known for breaking artists Emtee and Fiffi Copper into the mainstream.
Emtee and Fifi Cooper’s commercial success brought more attention to Ambitiouz Records and this paved the way for new acts.
Names such as BenchMarQ, A-Reece, DJ City Lyts and Sjava who were virtually unknown prior to signing with the label suddenly became superstars in their own right.
Whether you love them or hate them, but Ambitiouz Entertainment has built a reputation as one of hottest record companies in South Africa.
Open Mic Productions
Open Mic Productions rose to prominence in 2016 and were responsible for bringing King Monada to our attention.
After the label controversially cut all ties with King Monada just after one album, all was not lost.
They continued to sign and break exciting new acts such the Amapiano duo Pretoria- based duo Team Mosha, talented vocalist Zanda Zakuza and Master KG of Jerusalema fame.
Waltz Music Group
They might not be a house hold name but Waltz Music Group is one of the labels that played a huge part in the Amapiano movement.
Founded by DJ Macfowlen (Neo Makate), the label was responsible for promoting artists and 2019 hit singles such as DJ Kwiish SA (Gong Gong) alongside Open Mic Productions, Bizizi and KayGee (Kokota), and Vusinator (Gigabyte) just to mention a few.
Gentle Soul Recordings
Gentle Soul Recordings was founded in 2005 by Kabelo Nobewu, better known as DJ General Slam.
The label is synonymous with House Music (particularly the Amapiano genre) and has done great work on the underground scene by developing emerging talent.
The self-proclaimed King of Amapiano Kabza Da Small is an example. He, alongside long-time collaborator Leehleza have released several singles under Gentle Soul Records.
Majors are large record companies with adequate funding.
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group SA is regarded as a major label because they have the resources and a wide distribution network with offices across the globe.
The record company operates like a typical corporate entity consisting of various departments for anything you can think of: Marketing, Promotions, Publishing, Distribution, HR, you name it.
Not so long ago Universal announced the launch of Def Jam Africa with names such as Tsego, Cassper Nyovest and his Family Tree imprint coming on board.
Sony Music Entertainment Africa
The reason I didn’t add some labels under the indie section is that most of your favourite labels are not really independent in the true sense.
For example Sony Music Entertainment Africa has licensing deals with BlaqBoy Music (Maphorisa, Shasha, Mlindo The Vocalist), RapLyf Records (Kwesta and his roster) and House Afrika Records just to name a few.
If you were to sign with a BlaqBoy or RapLyf that means you would literally be signed to two record companies without even realizing it. This is not unique to Sony though as most labels with resources can afford to do this.
Gallo Music is regarded as one of the oldest and largest record companies in South Africa. They have an impressive catalogue which is what probably prompted Black Coffee to purchase a stake in the label (an unprecedented move by the way).
In recent years Gallo acquired other Independent labels such as Sheer Sound and Bula Music for undisclosed amounts which further strengthened their back catalogue.
Whether you want to release Jazz, Pop, House, Rock; Gallo has a demo submission section on their website open for all artists.