Universal Music Group is embarking on a ‘revitalised commitment’ to its classical department in the US by launching Universal Music Classics. Formerly the Decca Label Group, the new Universal Music Classics encompasses Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Mercury Classics and Panorama imprints, while continuing its relationship with the ECM label.
The rebranded division will be headed by Elizabeth Sobol, who was appointed its president by Universal Music Group International chairman and CEO, Max Hole earlier this year. Sobol was formerly managing director of IMG Artists, working personally with the likes of Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman, the Emerson String Quartet, Evgeny Kissin and James Galway. She has already made two executive appointments to the division: Leslie Collman-Smith, formerly of Sony Masterworks, as senior vice president of Marketing; and Collin Rae, formerly of Naxos America, as vice president of Digital Sales.
UMC will seek to cultivate new American artists, and Sobol's first signings are self-described ‘classically trained garage band’, Time For Three, who will record their label debut later this year with American songwriter Joshua Radin, due for release in 2014. The division is also working with New York’s Metropolitan Opera, having recently released a live recording of music director James Levine’s return to the podium at Carnegie Hall on Deutsche Grammophon.
In addition UMC will forge partnerships with organisations which share its goal of ‘engaging with a younger and wider audience for classics’: Universal Music Group will launch the international classical club Yellow Lounge in the US in November, partnering with venues including The Sonos Studio in Los Angeles (Nov 5), Le Poisson Rouge in New York City (Nov 10), City Winery with WFMT radio in Chicago (Nov 11) and YoungArts in Miami (Nov 22).
‘Elizabeth has brought a new and exciting creative vision to Universal Music Classics,’ said Max Hole. ‘The new team are lining up a series of brilliant new releases by American based artists. UMC will be the label to watch.’