In the ever-evolving media and entertainment landscape, companies continually seek innovative ways to connect with their audiences. In a groundbreaking move, Atlanta-based Diamond Diaspora Media (DDM) Group has teamed up with live events firm York Promotions to form DDM York in a joint venture.
The venture, officially announced earlier this month, promises to reshape the live event industry both domestically and internationally. The collaboration combines the strengths of two distinct entities to solidify DDM York’s presence in the events space.
The global event industry was worth approximately $890 billion in 2020, and is expected to only get larger. According to market research firm Statista, by 2028 it could grow to more than two trillion U.S. dollars.
DDM York is already off to a great start to make its mark.
DMM York has several festivals and other events under its belt in the Atlanta area including the R&B Soul Picnic, which attracted 15,000 paid attendees over Mother’s Day weekend. There’s also the Jollof Festival, which for its first event last year pulled in 10,000 paid attendees. The festival is now rebranded as The Africa Caribbean Music, Food, & Arts Festival.
DDM York also produces the Camp Creek Soul Festival, among others and more to come. The new venture is already in talks with legendary promoter Michael Mauldin to revive the iconic Scream Tour.
“We were looking to enter the live event arena on a larger scale, so this joint venture with York Promotions, which has as a history of successful festivals in the urban event space, came at an opportune time,” says Neil Nelson, CEO of DDM Group. “Most media companies have a presence in the live events space, and we’re looking to carve out a unique niche by presenting not only events domestically but internationally. DDM York gives us more arsenal in our toolkit for reaching a broader market.”
A Powerful Fusion
DDM York is poised to deliver large-scale events that rival the productions of other Black-owned media companies. DDM York aims to create unforgettable events that transcend traditional boundaries and connect with audiences on a deeper level.
Osei Kweku, director of Business Development at DDM, expressed the significance of this venture. “It’s an extension of our brand,” Kweku stated. “It takes us from everything we do digitally to a physical space, allowing us to cross-market ourselves in various spheres. We see this as an opportunity to take our booking capacity to a live level, akin to companies like Viacom.”
DDM Group, founded in 2012 and valued just under $100 million, has an extensive digital media presence, with over 12 million unique users across its platforms. Its brands include media platforms Atlanta Black Star, Finurah, and The Shadow League; music ventures Rap Plug Live, DDM Music, Black Star Studio; and the upcoming stream Advertising-based Video on Demand (AVOD) service Destah.
Atlanta Black Star, its premier brand, is recognized as the largest Black-owned digital news platform in the U.S. per Comscore; The Shadow League, an 11-year sports site at the intersection of sports and culture; and Finurah, a financial news and information site.
DDM Group also provides multiple content services to various Fortune 500 companies.
The Evolution of DDM York
York Promotions’ journey began in 2007, with founder Ais York’s vision to curate remarkable live events. Although faced with challenges during the pandemic, the company emerged stronger and more strategic.
A prime example of this resilience was the R&B Soul Picnic, a two-day event that drew an impressive crowd of 20,000 in May in Atlanta.
A Vision for the Future
DDM York’s aspirations extend beyond mere entertainment as the partnership takes shape. They intend to create purpose-driven events that resonate with a diverse audience.
Although the events feature headlining talent, the focus, says York, is not on celebrities.
“We don’t tend to be talent-driven. It’s all about curating an experience, creating a vibe, and bringing people and families together for a cause,” explains York.
Among the upcoming events is the R&B Soul Picnic weekend on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 in Miami, which will be attached to a mental health initiative.
DDM York will also rebrand its successful Jollof Festival, which partnered with singer Akon for its first year in 2022 drawing 10,000 attendees. The new name African Caribbean Music, Food, & Art festival.
A new event will be Black Star Week, which is poised to be DDM York’s tentpole event. The music, culture, and food fest is set to happen in May 2024.
Beyond the festivals, DDM York’s innovative monthly event series, “The Arts,” showcases an eclectic mix of creative expressions such as food, dance, art, music, and film. Each month, this event draws thousands of attendees.