Asian pop is on the rise. Eager to diversify its business and capitalise on the rising popularity, AirAsia and Universal Music Group (UMG) have launched a new music label partnership, RedRecords. The new label will focus on signing, developing and breaking new Asian artists.

While a large number of Asian artists rise to fame within Asia, many struggle to breakthrough into mainstream music with very few famous names, such as Bruno Mars, who is Filipino-Puerto Rican, and Nicole Scherzinger, who is of a native Hawaiian-Filipino background.

Many believe this to be the fault of low marketability, claiming that the general racial stereotype for Asians doesn’t fit into the average cool popstar image. Former American Idol contestant, Korean American artist Paul Kim told Bustlemagazine, “They [record executives] told me straight to my face that I have talent, but they wouldn’t be able to market me.” He believes that progress can be made but there are barriers keeping Asian artists at the point they’re in as no-one is willing to take the risk of marketing them.

Tony Fernandes and team at launch

This is a major demerit of the music industry and, for the many talented Asian artists, a disappointing and unnecessary drawback.

RedRecords aspires to discover and develop talent from southeast Asia and throughout the wider continent to form a clear and unique sound that reflects its diverse and rich musical culture. The label plans on combining UMG’s track record in artist development with AirAsia’s regional and global marketing strength to elevate Asian pop music, ‘A-Pop’, to new audiences throughout the region and around the world. The label will also provide distribution and marketing as well as management and agency services.

RedRecords launch was accompanied by the first signing of the Thai pop sensation Jannine Weigel. The singer-songwriter and influencer has already released several EPs and singles while accumulating over 600 million views on YouTube and a following of 1.5 million on Instagram.

On her signing to RedRecords, Jannine Weigel said: “I’m so proud to be the first artist to sign to RedRecords and to have the support of this amazing team helping to take my career to even greater heights. My fans are going to love all the incredible experiences that we have in store for them. I cannot wait for you to hear my new music.”

The Kuala Lumpur and LA-based label will be led by the head of music for AirAsia group, Hassam Choudhury, who will take on the role of CEO of RedRecords. “Having worked for both of these incredible companies, witnessing first hand their enormous strengths in their respective industries, I aim to bring the creative forces of both teams together in order to help develop the undoubted music talent that lays here in Asia,” said Choudhury.

Sir Lucian Grainge, the CEO and chairman of UMG, expressed his delight with the launch of RedRecords with AirAsia CEO Tony Fernnades and his team. “The worldwide success of Latin and K-Pop has demonstrated that in the streaming era there are no barriers to great music regardless of language. Together with AirAsia” they “can provide Asian artists an exciting opportunity to truly go global.” Fernandes added that the new label was “incredibly important” to him.

Earlier this year, UMG, which has already signed other Asian artists such as Blackpink, also announced the launch of a new regional headquarters in Singapore. UMG states that it is committed to growing the entire music ecosystem throughout Southeast Asia, extending its focus and commitment to local language and domestic repertoire in order to provide the best music experience.

“Together we share a commitment to the long-term development and transformation of the music ecosystem within the region,” said Adam Granite, EVP, Market Development, Universal Music Group. “A region filled with new talent that has the potential to reach almost 700 million people across Southeast Asia alone and where music is increasingly driven by a young, social and mobile-driven audience.”