Last month, MBW told you – after sources told us – that Darcus Beese OBE was about to launch a UK-based joint-venture label with a major record company that wasn’t Universal Music.
Today (June 16), we have confirmation of who Beese is teaming up with.
He’s joining Warner Music UK… and, as predicted, launching a JV label with the major. Warner says that Beese will share more details on the new label in the coming months.
In addition to that JV label, Beese will be taking up the role of EVP, Warner Music UK from July 1.
As a member of Warner Music UK’s senior leadership team, he will report into WMUK CEO, Tony Harlow.
According to an official press release Beese will work closely with Harlow and WMUK’s label presidents on “the company’s A&R approach and will be instrumental in helping guide the continued cultural and strategic change of [Warner’s] UK business”.
A respected A&R specialist, Beese’s career so far has seen him work closely with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Shawn Mendes, Dizzee Rascal, Demi Lovato, Florence + The Machine, Sugababes, Hozier and Mumford & Sons.
“I couldn’t be more pleased to have persuaded Darcus to join us at Warner Music as he embodies so much of what we stand for and what we want to stand for. He’s going to help me shape the future of Warner Music and help us by bringing compelling, urgent music to us through his label.”
Tony Harlow, Warner Music UK
Tony Harlow said: “For the entire time I’ve been in the music business I’ve heard about Darcus as a truly great music man – a person who heard great music in every and any genre, and could care and nurture artists to bring the best out of them. Darcus was a talent who could actually add to the legacy of a label as great as Island Records and who understood that labels need to build a culture both musically and of success.
“Darcus would sign smashes and then balance them with important records that needed to be made and voices that needed to be heard. I couldn’t be more pleased to have persuaded him to join us at Warner Music as he embodies so much of what we stand for and what we want to stand for. He’s going to help me shape the future of Warner Music and help us by bringing compelling, urgent music to us through his label.”
Beese began his music industry career in 1989 as an intern in the Island Records promotion department before making his move into A&R.
He later led Island Records UK from 2008 – first as co-President, then from 2013 as President – before making the switch to lead Island in the United States in 2018.
He left his role as President of Island in the US in February this year, returning to his hometown of London.
“I’m looking forward to working together to create a label that puts artists at its heart, moves the cultural needle, and delivers music that stands the test of time.”
Darcus Beese said: “Working at Island for as long as I did, I was never going to be comfortable working for another label. Talking to Max and Tony crystallised that the natural next step for me was to head up my own label while still being part of a broader record company leadership team.
“I’ve known Max, Tony, and the team for a long time, and their commitment to building a community that inspires and supports its artists is very much in line with my own philosophy, so I couldn’t be more pleased to be taking this next step with Warner Music. I’m looking forward to working together to create a label that puts artists at its heart, moves the cultural needle, and delivers music that stands the test of time. I want to thank Max and Tony for this wonderful new opportunity.”
The addition of Beese to Warner comes after other key senior hirings by Tony Harlow at Warner Music UK, since Harlow became CEO of the company in February 2020.
Those hires have also included former Apple Music exec Austin Daboh as EVP, Atlantic Records UK, and Trenton Harrison-Lewis as SVP Artist and Label Development, ADA and Warner Music UK.
Harlow has also promoted Briony Turner and Ed Howard to Co-Presidents of Atlantic UK, and, upped Joe Kentish to President, Warner Records UK.Music Business Worldwide