Well, this is unexpected. After 11 years as the official record label for Idols South Africa, Universal Music and the reality show have called it quits. Now, as the 12th season of the show is in full swing, Gallo Music has revealed that they have partnered with the show going forward.

The label, through it’s 19 Recordings Inc division, has exclusive rights to sign contestants of the popular Television Competition series. Therefore, they will release singles for the Top 3 contestants while the Season 12 Winner gets an automatic exclusive recording deal with the label, and a guaranteed album release on CD and Digital.

While Gallo may seem like an unlikely choice at first, the deal makes sense. Sony Music Africa has the international rights to The X Factor, Warner Music steer away from reality TV competitions and, locally, Gallo Records has worked closely with acts such as The Graeme Watkins Project who were discovered on the reality show.

“It’s fantastic to be associated with the prestige of the IDOLS brand and successes with artists who have gone on to have firmly established careers in the music business, past winners like Heinz Winckler, Elvis Blue, Musa Sukwene and Khaya Mthethwa to previous Idols contestants like Graeme Watkins. Gallo is proud to be associated with Idols and looking forward to working with the winner and any other possible contestants we may end up recording” – says Rob Cowling, Gallo’s Music Group’s Label Services Manager. Gallo has been working closely with the show’s local producers, agents and the team at M-Net / Mzansi Magic up until this point and they are ready to bring you the magic of Idols South Africa.

While this is a great move for Gallo, I can’t help but wonder why Universal Music and Idols South Africa ended their long-term relationship. It could have something to do with Universal’s involvement in M-Net’s new reality show, The Voice South Africa, whose second season kicks off in January. This year, after the show’s grand finale, Universal Music announced that they would be signing 10 The Voice South Africa contestants – something unseen in the world of South African reality shows.

Idols South Africa is still bringing in the ratings as it screens on Mzansi Magic only from this year. The competition is heating up as contestants are now entering the Top 10 after Sunday night’s results show.

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