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Universal plans to launch Capitol UK

By | Published on Wednesday 7 November 2012

Capitol Records

Having lost the legendary Parlophone name in his acquisition of EMI, Universal Music chief Lucian Grainge has said he plans to launch EMI’s main label brand in the US, Capitol, here in the UK.

As much previously reported, Universal was forced to sell over half of EMI’s European assets in order to get European Commission approval of its acquisition of the one-time British major, and that includes the UK-based Parlophone business (Beatles catalogue not included). Parlophone and various other European EMI units and catalogues are now up for sale, being held apart from those EMI divisions being absorbed by Universal.

In the UK it means that the only existing major EMI division that will become part of the Universal Music Group is Virgin Records. But in an interview with Hits Daily Double, Grainge says he plans to add two EMI divisions to his company’s existing portfolio of London-based labels, which already includes Polydor, Mercury and Island, by setting up a UK wing for EMI’s US-based Capitol business. Whether a Virgin UK and Capitol UK would operate as two totally separate divisions, or two A&R teams sharing marketing and promotions team, isn’t clear.

Grainge told HDD: “We will build on what Virgin Records has accomplished and, at the same time, create a Capitol Records in the UK, complete with its own creative team. EMI has a different meaning depending on which continent you are speaking about. The United States is about Capitol, and the UK and Europe are about EMI and Virgin. It is my ambition that we take advantage of the strengths that these identities have globally and geographically to where it can make the most difference”.

He added: “I also see a great opportunity for us to really create an arc between Capitol Records in the United States and in the UK. And that will be done with new artists, and we may even add resources that we have internally into Capitol to give it a leg up and to get it started. Capitol Records, West Coast music, that’s an important brand. It’s also a big part of West Coast American culture, and is a focus of my strategy and my investment choices”.

Read the full interview here.