Business News EMI Sale Timeline Labels & Publishers Top Stories

Universal merges Virgin and Mercury, confirms Capitol UK launch

By | Published on Monday 18 March 2013

Universal Music

Universal has announced that it is to merge the British side of its newly acquired (from EMI) Virgin Records label with its longstanding UK unit Mercury to create a new division, Virgin EMI Records.

The new company will maintain two A&R and marketing strands under the Virgin and EMI brands – ensuring that the EMI name remains active following the former major’s sale to the Universal Music Group. The Mercury name will also continue to be used in some cases, though presumably in a reduced form, as its team will focus on the all-new Virgin EMI.

Combining the current Virgin and Mercury UK recording catalogues, as well as representing the rosters of the US-based Island Def Jam and Virgin labels, Virgin EMI launches with a roster including Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Kanye West, Elton John, Taylor Swift and Arcade Fire, as well as newer artists like Emeli Sandé, Jake Bugg, Bastille and Chvrches.

Virgin EMI will be overseen by Ted Cockle, who was made president of Virgin UK in January. Mercury boss Jason Iley will leave Universal, having worked at a number of the major’s imprints, to launch his own international marketing and management company, though will continue to work with a number of Universal-signed artists.

Universal Music UK CEO David Joseph told CMU: “Virgin EMI will be a creative powerhouse for the UK music industry. It has an exceptionally strong A&R line-up, with sensational domestic and international artists, combined with the ethos which has served the company so well over the past 40 years”.

Ted Cockle added: “Having filled the top two positions in the albums chart this month for the first time since the Spice Girls and The Verve did it in 1998, Virgin is already feeling ready to compete at the very highest level. In the label’s 40th year, to have this incredible line-up of British artists and US repertoire of such pedigree it feels like Virgin EMI will have everything in place to help the very best talent flourish fully”.

In addition to the launch of Virgin EMI, Universal also confirmed today that it will bring its Capitol brand to the UK later this year. Full details of this will be unveiled in April, though, as previously reported, it’s rumoured that its headquarters will be within the Abbey Road Studios complex in London.