An announcement by Michael Lang, President of the newly-formed Deutsche Grammophon Decca (DGD), and Christopher Roberts, President of Universal's (UMGI) Classics & Jazz, seems to allay some of the widespread fears for the future of Decca, in particular, and its recording activities.
A press-release announces that 'now, more than ever, Universal Music Classics & Jazz must lead', going on to talk of 'refocusing Decca's classical and creative activities, to strengthen its position as one of the world's leading classical recording companies.' Changes in the support structure of both labels are to help them 'become more efficient and better coordinated.'
The most important announcement for music-lovers is the assurance that 'Decca will continue as a separate international classical repertoire centre and continue to record and add to its acclaimed roster of classical artists (Cecilia Bartoli, Riccardo Chailly, Julia Fischer, Renée Fleming, Juan Diego Florez, Nelson Freire, Janine Jansen, Jonas Kaufmann, Danielle de Niese [pictured below], Mitsuko Uchida, and more). It will continue to be based in London. It will use the blue-and-red logo for classical front-line and also back-catalogue releases, which include such icons as Luciano Pavarotti, Sir Georg Solti and Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Decca will now co-operate more closely with its sister label Deutsche Grammophon. They will share many back-office functions — such as Business Affairs, Production, International Marketing & Promotion, and New Media — through a newly formed, internal entity called Deutsche Grammophon Decca (DGD), based in Hamburg.'
Similarly important is the assurance that 'Deutsche Grammophon and Decca will each retain its own identity, its own creativity, and its own A&R structure — the life-blood of any record company. Decca's London headquarters will house its A&R team, and will include a small Marketing and New Media team to liaise with its DGD colleagues, and to maintain direct contact with its licensees worldwide.'
In addition, it has been announced that Paul Moseley, who has been working as Creative Director at IMMA (whose labels include Onyx) and as a consultant for Decca, will return to the company in the new role of General Manager of Decca's A&R and London-based operations, reporting to Michael Lang. This appointment points to a definite desire to maintain a character for Decca independent of its sister labels.
Paul Moseley comments: 'Decca could hardly be closer to my heart, having provided the major part of my career to date. Today's challenges convince me that I can play a role in taking it forward as a distinctive classical label based on a wide roster of artistic excellence, while also paying homage to its traditional values: quality, creativity and integrity. I am truly grateful to be offered this opportunity.'
Many will also be glad to hear that 'Decca's classical operations will also benefit from being organisationally separate from its crossover and soundtrack activities (Russell Watson, Hayley Westenra, etc.).Universal Music UK will take immediate responsibility for these crossover activities and, given the importance attached to the Decca brand, the UK Universal Classics and Jazz division (UCJ) will be renamed Decca. It will use the "black logo" that evokes such legendary acts as the Rolling Stones and the Moody Blues.'
The announcement concludes that 'By separating and redefining Decca's "blue-and-red (classical) and "black" (crossover) imprints, we reflect its past and strengthen its future as one of the world's truly great music brands.'
By Hugo Shirley