Ferdy Unger-Hamilton named President of Columbia Records UK

Ferdy Unger-Hamilton will take charge of Columbia Records UK next Monday (November 7) after nearly eight years as President of UMG’s Polydor.

In addition, it’s been confirmed that Unger-Hamilton will soon launch an as-yet-unnamed joint venture in partnership with Sony Music, endorsed by the major’s UK boss Jason Iley.

Unger-Hamilton’s appointment is the latest move in Iley’s plan to recruit top A&R-centric talent throughout Sony Music UK’s label management.

In August, we learned that Sony Music UK had acquired Ministry Of Sound – including its highly-rated A&R team led by David Dollimore and Dipesh Parmar.

Other recent additions to Iley’s UK business have included Black Butter Records (Zara Larsson, Will Heard, J Hus) and Insanity Records. The latter, a joint venture between Sony and Insanity Management, scored a UK No.1 album earlier this month with Craig David’s Following My Intuition.

Ferdy Unger-Hamilton enjoyed global success at Polydor working closely with artists including Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Rey, Haim and Michael Kiwanuka.

Under his Presidency, the Universal label also released chart-topping records from The 1975 (with Dirty Hit) and Years & Years, as well as Take That – whose Progress (2010) is the third fastest-selling album in UK history behind Adele’s 25 and Oasis’s Be Here Now.

Jason Iley“I am delighted to have such a world-class executive joining Columbia Records and am also particularly looking forward to renewing our working relationship, which has proved so successful in the past.”

Jason Iley, Sony Music UK

Unger-Hamilton began his A&R career in 1992, when he launched Go! Beat Records in London – enjoying critical and commercial success with Portishead and Gabrielle.

He co-wrote the No.1 single, Rise, the title track of Gabrielle’s third and most successful album.

Unger-Hamilton spent a decade at Universal after the major bought into Go! Beat, including a stint at UMG’s Island Records – where he worked in close partnership with Iley.

Together, they launched Keane, whose debut album, Hopes and Fears, won Best British Album at the 2005 BRIT Awards and sold more than six million copies globally.

Ferdy Unger-Hamilton said: “I was about 13 years old when I first heard Bob Dylan after my mum left a cassette of Biograph lying around. Columbia Records changed my life!

“It has always been the ultimate artist company. The US team has done such an incredible job – and you can’t imagine how much it means to me to be asked by Jason to lead the UK company. I will try to do it justice.”

Jason Iley said: “Ferdy is a true artists’ man; someone who has an unparalleled track record for nurturing and breaking artists on a global scale.

“I am delighted to have such a world-class executive joining Columbia Records and am also particularly looking forward to renewing our working relationship, which has proved so successful in the past.”

“The US Columbia team has done such an incredible job – and you can’t imagine how much it means to me to be asked by Jason to lead the UK company. I will try to do it justice.”

Ferdy Unger-Hamilton

Unger-Hamilton exited Universal in 2006 to become MD of Virgin Records (EMI), where he worked with the likes of The Kooks and Laura Marling, but rejoined UMG as Polydor boss in late 2008.

Unger-Hamilton’s arrival at Columbia Records UK marks the end of the tenure of Alison Donald and Mark Terry, who jointly took over at the top of the label in 2012 following the departure of then-MD Mike Smith.

Smith, who went on to work with Iley at Mercury Records before becoming President of Music at Virgin/EMI, was recently appointed boss of major publisher Warner/Chappell UK.

Iley added: “Ferdy succeeds Alison Donald and Mark Terry who have both now left the company.

“I would like to thank Alison and Mark for all their hard work over the last few years – and wish them well for the future.”

It’s an interesting time for Columbia Records.

Rob Stringer, Chairman and CEO of the label in New York, is stepping up to become CEO of Sony Music Entertainment worldwide in April 2017.Music Business Worldwide

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