Companies are beginning to pay greater attention to the musical talent Israel has to offer as it continues to lead in the creation of content for the screen.
The recording and publishing divisions of Universal Music Group's Tel Aviv branch were inaugurated in July 2021. They are overseen by managing director Yoram Mokady and general manager Itamar Shafrir, respectively. A year later, Warner Music announced its entry into Israel by employing Mariah Mochiach, a local general manager, but delaying the purchase of office space. And now Sony Music is entering the market through a partnership with the brothers Josh (seen above at right) and Sam Fluxgold (at left), which will operate under the name Oneway Records.
The Toronto natives, who will continue to be located in Canada, have worked with Israeli musicians in the past. Over the course of five years, the two collaborated with Dennis Lloyd (actual name Nir Tibor), whose song "Nevermind" became a worldwide sensation in 2017 and 2018, peaking at number five in various European nations and even making the Billboard Hot 100.
Josh explains that the experience "opened our eyes to the fact that there was just so much untapped potential in the Israeli creative scene."
Daniel Lieberberg from Sony Music agreed. The president of Continental Europe and Africa, based in Berlin, is in charge of several regions, including the Middle East. He too had a personal connection to Israel, having spent time there as a child, and had frequented Tel Aviv visits to observe the city with an A&R ear. During COVID, the three started to investigate the possibility of a partnership.
According to Lieberberg, Israel is fascinating because of its distinctive blending of cultures. "To uncover the next big worldwide success story, we'll be looking at performers from every ethnic background in the nation."
Josh, who has experience in both management and music publishing, asserts that "Sony's strength is breaking international artists, and that's been our experience as well." So we're concentrating on signing singers who have an international following, which is mainly artists who sing in English.
Lieberberg continues, "Josh and Sam really grasp the worldwide character of our business. "Israel may be the talent pool from which they are pulling, but the market that we are jointly examining is the world."
Sam asserts that having Daniel on your side can help open doors by suggesting that you meet with Josh and Sam from Oneway Records. Although the squad he put together has a boutique air, they are so well-known throughout Europe.
Israel has a long history of hosting televised singing competitions, where English-language songs are the norm (the ABC singing competition "Rising Star" came and went but continues to produce local pop artists with remarkable effectiveness). Pop artists like Noa Kirel, Mergui, Anna Zak, and Tamir Grinberg are well-known, although only in a limited audience, thanks to their exposure on television and online.
Both Kirel and the more indie-leaning Noga Erez were signed by Warner Music label Atlantic, but neither has had much success abroad. Kirel, who will represent Israel at the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, may change that, though. Meanwhile, Universal has a stake in As1One, a project run by music industry veterans James Diener and Ken Levitan that is planned to debut in the summer of 2023 and will be Israel's first English-language boy band composed of Jewish and Arab people.
The Fluxgold brothers aspire to imitate Toronto's own musical come-up, which saw Justin Bieber, Drake, and the Weeknd put the city's music on the map. We see Israel as a melting pot of people, much to how Toronto is extremely multi-ethnic and diverse. There, teenagers have a highly diverse musical background. People might be referring to Amy Winehouse or the Beatles; it's evident that modern music is highly popular there. Both the music they listen to and the artists we are considering are very diverse.