Universal rolls up US classical labels into Verve Group in New York

Universal Music Group (UMG) has formed Verve Label Group and appointed veteran industry executive Danny Bennett as the label group’s President & CEO, effective immediately.

Bennett (pictured) is a Grammy and Emmy Award-winning music, film and television producer, and long-time manager of his father, legendary singer Tony Bennett.

The Verve Label Group will be comprised of Verve in addition to UMG’s US classical music labels including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca Records, Decca Classics, Mercury Classics, and distributed label ECM.

David Foster, who led the Verve label since 2012, is leaving UMG to return full-time to producing.

He is currently producing albums for UMG artists Carla Bruni and Jordan Smith, and will continue to work with the major.

Under Bennett’s leadership, Verve will relocate to New York, where the label was originally founded 60 years ago.

He will report to Michele Anthony, Executive Vice President of UMG.

Bennett and Dickon Stainer, President and CEO of Global Classics for Universal Music Group, will announce shortly a President of Verve Label Group’s classical music labels.

The news comes little over a month after we learned that Universal’s previous US classical boss, Elizabeth Sobol, was leaving the major.

Michele Anthony said, “By forming the Verve Label Group and attracting an industry veteran of Danny’s stature and expertise, Universal Music is making a strong statement about the high value we place on building on our robust jazz and classical repertoire.

“We are committed to growing our presence in these genres even further and creating crossover successes that deliver artists to new audiences around the world.

“I want to thank David for the immense creative impact he had at Verve. On behalf of everyone here at UMG, we look forward to recording many more hit records with David for years to come.”

Bennett said, “Universal Music is home to the largest and most historically relevant jazz and classical recordings. It’s a tremendous honor, and I am humbled to be chosen to lead the newly formed Verve Label Group.

“I’m indebted to David Foster for leading the iconic Verve label and I look forward to working with him on many future productions. Additionally, I offer my profound appreciation to Lucian Grange and Michele Anthony for this amazing opportunity.”

Foster said, “I have loved every minute working with Verve’s incredibly talented roster of artists and staff. At the same time, during the last few months, as I thought about where I’m happiest, it’s in the recording studio working closely with artists on developing new material.

“I’m thrilled Danny is now at the helm of the Verve. The label couldn’t be in better hands and I’m looking forward to working on many more projects together.”

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Verve is Universal Music Group’s American contemporary label with an active artist roster that includes Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Mark Knopfler, Sarah McLachlan and Barry Manilow.

UMG says: ‘The jazz and classical labels will maintain distinct A&R, marketing and promotions teams, while also leveraging UMG’s global reach to provide artists with deep resources and expertise to develop their careers.’Music Business Worldwide

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