Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music based-entertainment, today announced the launch of Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, a new global network delivering premium and flexible artist and label services to the industry’s most dynamic entrepreneurs and independent talent worldwide, inspired and influenced by the spirit and ethos of the iconic Virgin Records label.
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.”
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.”
Founded in 1972 in the U.K. by Branson, Virgin Records has helped redefine music culture for almost half a century. Independent music distribution and disruption have been a key catalyst in Virgin’s global success throughout its history: from its pioneering roots in prog, reggae, punk and new wave; with distributed labels, including Frontline, Stiff, Charisma and Circa; to the creation of Caroline and Astralwerks, both now successful divisions within the UMG label family.
Virgin Records also served as home to some of the most influential and reverential artists of the past century, including: David Bowie; The Sex Pistols; Aaliyah; The Rolling Stones; George Michael; Janet Jackson; Lenny Kravitz; Culture Club; Massive Attack; and the Spice Girls.
To build on its rich cultural and musical legacy, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services will be led in each region by highly skilled executive teams, providing fully resourced regional hubs that combine UMG’s industry-leading technology platforms, specialist local networks and expertise with UMG’s global strength and reach, alongside a suite of resources to help position labels and artists for long-term success globally and to empower the next generation of independent artists and labels to reach new audiences around the world.
Effective immediately, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services will provide artists global solutions, with fully staffed operations already established in the world’s top five music markets (U.S., Japan, U.K., Germany, France) and across Latin America, the world’s fastest-growing region for the past five years. Additional operations will launch in the coming months. Regional details include:
In the U.S., Caroline will be renamed Virgin Label & Artist Services. It 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. The company offers independent artists and labels the resources of UMG, on top of a winning team of strategists and marketers, resulting in hugely successful partnerships such as: Motown’s innovative alliance with Atlanta-based Quality Control Music, leading to the rise of global superstar such as Lil Baby; 10K Projects whose break out artists include Trippie Redd, Internet Money, Surfaces and iann dior. Other successful partnerships with artists and label 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 U.K., highly respected industry executive Vanessa Higgins has been appointed as MD, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services UK, effective immediately. She 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 the BPI (the U.K. record labels’ trade association) 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 U.K. 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 France, the new evolved 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 sixteen. With the input and support of Universal Music France CEO, Olivier Nusse since 2016, Caroline France has quickly become a leading home for the incubation of new artists and independent labels within France, delivering 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 OfMan, 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 U.S. The label will have dedicated teams and resources based in Los Angeles, Miami and Mexico City and will focus on supporting the next wave of independent Latin talent, labels, influencers and entrepreneurs globally.
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. This unique suite of services will enable Latin artists to take a bespoke and cohesive approach to releasing music, visual content, podcasts, physical product and merchandise in order to provide the best fan experiences.