Universal Music UK restructures and merges Island and EMI labels

Universal Music UK restructures and merges Island and EMI labels

After Universal Music restructured its US labels earlier this year, the company’s UK division is also undergoing a reorganisation, notably through the merger of two iconic leading labels, Island Records UK and EMI.

The move, which will take effect on October 1, was announced to the company’s staff in an internal memo from UMG UK chairman-CEO David Joseph, obtained by Variety; the news was first reported by Music Business Worldwide. The restructuring will involve an undisclosed number of layoffs.

Similar to UMG US’s merger of several labels into the Republic Corps and Interscope-Capitol Label Groups, the company’s UK division will have two “powerful frontline label groups”:

The newly named Island EMI Label Group, with current Island UK President Louis Bloom as President; and

Polydor Label Group, with Ben Mortimer as president, which also includes Capitol UK, with Jo Charrington as president; and 0207 Def Jam, with Alec Boateng as president.

The detailed memo also stated:

Laura Monks and Tom Lewis will continue to run Decca as an independent label, focusing on classical, jazz, instrumental, folk, soul and electronic music;

Hannah Neaves becomes sole President of UMR (the catalogue division of UMG UK);

Nickie Owen will continue to lead the company’s international strategy;

Rebecca Allen, Charrington’s former co-MD, will now lead the new Audience & Media Division (AMD), which will support all of the company’s labels, in what Joseph described as “an industry first, with every type of media seamlessly integrated. We’re building an elite team, making this our largest division.” It will include the company’s media operation, led by Suzy Walby; Audience and Digital Strategy, led by Kate Wyn Jones; and the Square insight team, focused on data, insight, strategy and creativity, led by Jack Fryer.

Joseph acknowledged that the restructuring will involve layoffs.

“While the vast majority of our team will remain part of our business, some roles will be impacted by the proposed structural changes. I am saddened to say goodbye to some incredible colleagues who have played an important role in our journey.

“As a company, we have to remain forward-thinking, innovative and daring,” he added. “Developing artists now requires more creativity and patience than ever before.”