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Universal Music Group today announced a multi-year global agreement with Empire, the San Francisco-based independent music company founded by Ghazi Shami, to provide strategic distribution services to UMG’s labels and artists to complement UMG’s existing global distribution network.

According to the announcement, under the agreement, UMG and Empire will work together on select artist projects from UMG’s labels that will benefit from Empire unique approach to distribution, digital sales, promotion and marketing. 

Founded in 2010, Empire has grown rapidly into a if not the leading independent distributor and label for hip-hop and R&B in the U.S., although it distributes artists from many genres. The label made a splash in 2011 by distributing Kendrick Lamar’s independent album “Section.80” and has grown quickly via releases from Anderson .Paak, Cardi B,  Dram, Fat Joe & Remy Ma, Migos, Brockhampton, Shaggy, Snoop Dogg and not least XXXTentacion, whose debut album “17” reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 last year.

The company will also distribute releases from Hitco, the new label founded by former Epic Records chief L.A. Reid after his departure from that label last year. Its first release is right up Empire’s alley: a new album from Big Boi of Outkast. HitCo is working to radio the song “All Night,” which got a big boost of exposure last last year when it was used in an Apple campaign for the iPhone X.