Universal Music Group has launched Virgin Music Label & Artist Services – a new global division serving independent artists and labels that UMG says is “inspired and influenced by the spirit and ethos of the iconic Virgin Records label”.
The move sees US-based Caroline – the independent services division of UMG-owned Capitol Music Group – as well as Caroline operations in the UK, France and Germany renamed as Virgin Music Label & Artist Services.
Amongst other regions, the Virgin services division will also launch in Mexico and Spain, as well as launching Latin operations in the US across Los Angeles and Miami. UMG claims that “Virgin Music Label & Artist Services Latin America will be the first fully integrated label services division worldwide for Latin music.”
Virgin Music Label & Artist Services will be a separate global operation to Ingrooves, which UMG acquired in 2019 and has been following a roadmap of rapid international expansion since.
In the US, effective immediately, Caroline will be renamed Virgin Label & Artist Services and will continue under the leadership of Jacqueline Saturn, who becomes President, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, reporting to Capitol Music Group President and COO, Michelle Jubelirer.
Los Angeles-based Caroline’s major recent successes have included partnerships with Atlanta-based Quality Control Music (via Motown), leading to the rise of global superstar Lil Baby; as well as 10K Projects whose break out artists include Trippie Redd.
In addition, Caroline has forged successful partnerships with artists/labels include Clairo through the Fader Label, SHAED through Photo Finish, Black Pumas through ATO Records. NCT127 and SuperM through SM Entertainment and independent artists E-40, Mac Demarco, Anson Seabra, Judah & the Lion and others.
In the UK, Vanessa Higgins has been appointed as MD, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services UK, effective immediately.
Higgins joins UMG from Regent Street Records, the independent record label and music publishing company she founded in 2014, after spending 15 years as a touring musician.
Higgins has a long history of working with independent artists, having also represented their interests as a board member of UK record label body BPI since 2015, and as Director of the BPI’s innovation hub between 2016-19.
She currently serves as a mentor for Abbey Road Red’s technology and innovation seeding programme.
Higgins will report to David Joseph, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK.
Labels and artists that will be distributed from the UK will include: Mixtape Madness, Brit Award nominees D Block Europe, Midas The Jagaban, Digga D, Potter Payper & Bugzy Malone, Fiction, Billie Marten, The Amazons and The Big Moon, Rema, StayFleeGetLizzy, Tiffany Calver, EGA, Faceless and NQ.
In addition, Caroline International‘s label services operation – based in the UK – will be renamed Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, effective immediately, under the continued leadership of MD’s Michael Roe and Jim Chancellor.
In 2020, Caroline International delivered major international chart success for Caroline artists including: Aitch, The Big Moon; Internet Money; Zoe Wees (Via UM Germany) and D-Block Europe amongst others.
Artists and Labels to be distributed globally via Virgin Music Label & Artist services include: Because Music (Christine & The Queens, Major Lazer –global markets outside of France), Van Morrison, Steven Wilson, Sophie Hunger, Peter Gabriel, Tame Impala (ex UK, US & Australia), Iggy Pop, Underworld and DAVE (excluding UK & US).
In France, the new division will be built from the foundations of Caroline France, with operations led by Thomas Lorain who has been appointed as MD, Virgin Music Labels & Artist Services France effective immediately.
Lorain has overseen Caroline France since 2014 and currently manages a team of 16.
With the input and support of Universal Music France CEO, Olivier Nusse since 2016, Caroline France has delivered breakthrough domestic success for artists including; Alpha Wann (Don Dada Records), Carpenter Brut (No Quarter), Grand Corps Malade (Anouche Productions), Kaaris (OG Record/Lutèce), Polo & Pan (Hamburger Records / Ekleroshock), RimK (Frenesik) and Wejdene (Guette Music / Caroline France).
On top of the artists already distributed, the first labels to join Virgin Music France will include: Danger Productions (Captaine Roshi), Guette Music (Larse) Profile de face (Lewis Of Man, Pretty Boy Aaron) and Think Zik! (Imany, Anwar).
In Germany, alongside other markets across Central Europe, existing Caroline operations will be incorporated and expanded into Virgin Music Label & Artist Services.
The new division in Germany will be led by Tina Adams, who will assume the role of Label Manager effective immediately.
The label will be based in Berlin and will report to Frank Briegmann, Chairman & CEO Universal Music Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon.
The new division will operate alongside domestic frontline label Virgin Records Germany.
In Latin America & Iberia, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services will launch in early 2021 across a handful of key markets including Mexico, Spain and Latin operations in the US.
The label will have dedicated teams and resources based in Los Angeles, Miami and Mexico City and says, UMG, will “focus on supporting the next wave of independent Latin talent, labels, influencers and entrepreneurs globally”.
UMG claims that Virgin Music Label & Artist Services Latin America will be “the first fully integrated label services division worldwide for Latin music”, providing artists, labels and partners with access to local and international marketing services, Live and management services through GTS, Merchandising through Bravado and Publishing services alongside UMPG.
Virgin Music Latin America will be led by Víctor González, who has been appointed to the position of President, Virgin Music LATAM & Iberia, effective immediately.
A long-standing and highly respected executive, González has worked for UMG for more than 22 years, and most recently held the position of President, Universal Music Latin Entertainment (UMLE).
He will be based in Los Angeles and will report to Jesús López, Chairman & CEO Latin America & Iberian Peninsula.
In Japan, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services Japan launches effective immediately.
The division will broaden the existing capabilities of Caroline Japan, which will be combined into the new division led by highly experienced executive Hirokazu Tanaka, reporting to Naoshi Fujikura, President and CEO, Universal Music Japan.
The new division will operate alongside domestic frontline label Virgin Music.
“This global launch represents an important evolution of our industry-leading strategy to be an accelerator and vital partner for the music’s best independent artists and entrepreneurs.”
Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG, said: “Virgin has long been a name synonymous with disruptive innovation, musical creativity and entrepreneurialism.
“We are thrilled to announce the reinvigoration of this iconic music brand as a new model for global distribution and label services – combining UMG’s unrivalled regional executive teams with dedicated resources and best-in-class services and technology, to help foster long-term partnerships and deliver global success for the next generation of independent labels and artist talent.
“In total, this global launch represents an important evolution of our industry-leading strategy to be an accelerator and vital partner for the music’s best independent artists and entrepreneurs.”
“I’m proud that half a century after we opened our first independent record shop in London, the Virgin Music name continues to represent the very best entrepreneurs, innovators, and artists from the world of music today.”
Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Founder, said: “I’m proud that half a century after we opened our first independent record shop in London, the Virgin Music name continues to represent the very best entrepreneurs, innovators, and artists from the world of music today.”
Virgin Records was founded in 1972 in the UK by Sir Richard Branson and has served as home to artists from David Bowie, to The Sex Pistols, Aaliyah, The Rolling Stones, George Michael, Janet Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, Culture Club, Massive Attack and the Spice Girls.
The iconic label, whose roots were in prog, reggae, punk and new wave, also distributed labels including Frontline, Stiff, Charisma and Circa, in addition to creating Astralwerks and Caroline, which have both become successful divisions under the UMG umbrella.Music Business Worldwide