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GXR sees itself as an enabler for artists rather than a record label, says boss

DUBAI: The idea for independent music label GXR Records was born out of a simple conversation between Elia Mssawir, an award-winning artist manager, and Paul Roy, the CEO of Galaxy Racer, a multimedia company specializing in esports, content creators, music and sports.

They were discussing their shared passion for music and their vision for a business in the region that truly cares about its artists, Mssawir told Arab News.

“We started tossing around ideas and (talking about) how we wanted to bridge the gap between MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) and Asia – and that’s how GXR Records saw the day,” he said.

They launched the label in August this year in partnership with Empire, an independent global label, distributor and publisher. Based in Dubai and with Mssawir at the helm of the label, GXR Records focuses on developing talent in West Asian and North African territories. He has already signed a number of artists from this region, including Freek, Noel Kharman, Dyler, Hanody Awesome and Noor Stars, and the number of acts on his roster soared to over 20 within two months of his signing. launch.

Mssawir, who joined Galaxy Racer in April, had recruited artists and influencers from India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Malaysia, where the company has offices, and discovered plenty of musical talent there. An idea was born not only to sign artists from Asia and Africa, but also to help them collaborate with their counterparts in the Middle East.

The founders of GXR Records said that, building on parent company Galaxy Racer’s existing portfolio, it is dedicated to identifying and developing a diverse roster of emerging and established artists in the region, while encouraging cross-promotion and collaborations within the label to help them reach a wider audience.

In addition to finding and signing artists, GXR Records will work with Galaxy Racer to create and produce music for the parent company’s influencers and brand collaborations, Mssawir said. These collaborations between artists and the parent brand are part of Mssawir’s vision for the company.

“It becomes a family more than a label,” he said.

This ambitious vision goes hand in hand with the brand’s growth strategy; GXR Records has already opened an office in the United States and plans to establish bases in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and South Africa by the end of this year. There are no current plans, however, for additional offices in the Middle East.

“Our headquarters here in Dubai is sufficient to operate MENA-wide for 2022,” Mssawir said. However, he added that GXR Records intends to expand its presence in Africa and the Levant over the coming year.

One of the challenges, historically, for regional artists has been how to grow and become a global presence, Mssawir said. “That’s where we come in and reinforce that opportunity for them,” he added.

The new label plans to hold a large-scale music festival next year, a longtime dream for Mssawir, but which he never seemed to have “the time or the team to focus on” until now. .

“We plan to organize small events in the region, build a big festival where we hope to attract a few international artists, and MENA artists can open or support international artists,” he said.

He jokes that his biggest challenge since launching GXR has been “sleeping less and working more”. But he added that working hard and putting in long hours is something he’s happy to do because “we want to change the way the music business is done here”.

Another challenge he said he has faced is the negative public perception of record labels, which he says has been largely influenced by how they are portrayed in Hollywood.

“That’s one of the things we want to change,” he said.

There were no professional managers for artists in the region a decade ago and so artists often took whatever deal they could get, he said. The ecosystem is changing, however, and Mssawir said he is determined to help set high standards for artists, especially when it comes to representing GXR Records as a brand.

“Labels aren’t there to kill artists’ careers,” he said. “And that’s why I don’t really call (GXR) a label, I call it an enabler: we facilitate for artists rather than labeling them.”