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Universal UK merges its EMI and Capitol labels

By | Published on Friday 18 March 2022


Universal Music has announced that the roster and team of its Capitol UK label will become part of its EMI label, with the respective bosses of the two divisions becoming co-Presidents at the expanded EMI.

Universal acquired both the Capitol and EMI brands as part of its acquisition of the old EMI major record company back in 2012, the UK-based EMI having bought the US-based Capitol Records all the way back in 1955.

With Universal’s purchase of its record company and Sony’s acquisition of its music publishing business, EMI ceased to exist as a standalone major music company, of course, but the EMI brand lived on in various ways.

One way the brand was kept alive was through the creation of a Universal UK division called Virgin EMI in 2013 – which brought together the catalogues of Universal’s existing Mercury Records division and the Virgin Records label it acquired as part of the EMI deal. That division then dropped the Virgin part of its name in 2020.

Over in the US, where Capitol had always been EMI’s flagship brand, Universal put most of the assets it had acquired as part of the EMI deal under the Capitol Music Group banner. Meanwhile, back in the UK, just for giggles I think, Universal decided to rebrand its London Records label as Capitol Records UK.

I’m providing this short history lesson, in case you wondered, because Universal says that – by merging its EMI and Capitol teams and rosters – it is “reuniting two historic labels whose partnership goes back almost 70 years”. Which is almost sort of true. And now you know why. You’re welcome.

Not only that, but the merger will – adds Universal – “give Capitol’s artists access to EMI’s industry-leading teams and expertise in what is gearing up to be a busy year for both labels”. Which sounds lovely. Game changing? No. Unless it’s a pretty lacklustre game you’re playing. Though, turns out, as you will see, that’s a pretty controversial opinion I just expressed there.

Until January this year the Capitol UK label was headed up by co-Presidents Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington. Following Raphael’s departure at the start of the year it was thought that Charrington would drop the “co” part of her job title, but alas no. Though she is now co-President of a bigger label, alongside existing EMI President Rebecca Allen.

“This is a game changing moment for EMI”, reckons Universal Music UK boss David Joseph. “Becky and Jo make an exceptional team with a united vision for what a modern record label should be. Becky’s leadership together with Jo’s unrivalled A&R track record sets up what promises to be an exciting new era for EMI and their artists”.

Charrington adds: “I’m honoured to be joining Becky and the outstanding EMI team at what is an incredibly exciting time for the label. It really does feel like the stars have aligned for us both. For a label steeped in history and culture, our ambition and vision is simple. We want to develop and nurture the very best talent from across the world. Talent whose artistry will no doubt write the next chapter of EMI’s legacy as the UK’s most celebrated record label”.

And Allen says: “I’m delighted to begin this journey with Jo and to welcome the brilliant Capitol team to EMI. Jo is someone who I have always admired and respected, both as a friend and as an outstanding executive. We’ve built a fantastic relationship over the years and we will be running a label that is both innovative and forward thinking with our artists and their music always at the heart”.