EMI RIP? Apparently Not, Record Label Rises from the Ashes

Surprising, if welcome news via Music Business Worldwide that one of the shining lights of British record labels during the 70s, 80s and 90s is to emerge revitalised, after it looked to face oblivion in 2012. With a thoroughly level playing field as the ravages of COVID-19 settle and the industry can take stock, hopefully this is just the first of many statements of intent by not just the majors but also indie labels.

“EMI Records, one of the most fabled record company brands in history, is returning as a frontline label.

Universal Music UK today (June 16) announced that Rebecca Allen has been named President of EMI Records with immediate effect, moving over from her successful tenure as President of Decca.

EMI Records re-emerges as a rebrand of Universal’s Virgin EMI, which was the UK’s biggest label in 2019 in terms of album-equivalent market share.

Universal Music Group acquired both the Virgin Records and EMI Records brands as part of its £1.2bn ($1.9bn) buyout of EMI Music in 2012.

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group, said today: “Growing up in London, EMI was the most iconic brand in British music. When we acquired the company, we committed to new investment, innovation, creativity and, of course, leadership. Not only have we delivered on that promise, but we continue to position EMI for the future.

“The appointment of Becky Allen is a testament to our long-term commitment, and our adamance that the EMI name will mean as much to a new generation of artists and fans as it did for mine.

“Becky is such a strong leader – creatively and commercially – and has the values, dedication and acumen to keep EMI as the unquestioned home for some of the UK’s greatest talent.”

MBW revealed on Friday (June 12) that Virgin EMI’s previous President, Ted Cockle, was leaving the label. The Virgin Records imprint, says Universal, will now continue under the EMI Records banner.

London-based EMI Records (formerly Virgin EMI) is home to artists such as Elton John, Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler, Florence + The Machine and Bastille, in addition to international repertoire from Justin Bieber, Lewis Capaldi, The Killers, Metallica, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Taylor Swift. The label also handles marketing for the catalog of Queen, the global record industry’s fifth biggest artist last year according to IFPI data.

Reporting to Universal Music UK Chairman & CEO David Joseph, Rebecca Allen is taking charge at EMI Records after 20 years at Universal Music.

She has spent the past three years as President of Decca, where she has worked closely with the likes of Gregory Porter, Ludovico Einaudi, Imelda May, Isata Kanneh-Mason, Jamie Cullum, The Lumineers, Melody Gardot, Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Andrea Bocelli.

David Joseph said, “Rebecca’s track record at Decca speaks for itself but her string of successes don’t tell the full story: quite simply she is an inspirational leader and no-one has a greater understanding of what it takes to bring artists and music to new audiences.

“She is an extraordinarily dynamic and creative executive with the vision and ambition to restore EMI Records to its position as a powerhouse of culture and music discovery.”

Rebecca Allen said: “Being asked to reimagine one of the UK’s most important record labels is an incredible opportunity, as is the chance to work with some of the world’s biggest and most innovative artists.

Allen’s achievements saw her recognised as Businesswoman of the Year at Music Week’s Women In Music awards in 2017 and she was named as one of Billboard’s Power Players a year later”.

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