Just as we warned two months ago when Warner won the battle to buy EMI and Virgin Classics, a century of recording tradition is about to be wiped from the record.
Warner has no history in classics before 1990 and no record of success, never rising above two percent of global market share and not signing major talent for several years. It now intends to bury the two famous labels in ‘a new brand’ that will also house Warner’s stuttering efforts, while aggressively saving costs on all fronts at a rate of $70 million a year.
Here are extracts from an internal memo by Warner CEO Steve Cooper, obtained by Music Week:
Our acquisition of the renowned labels, EMI Classics and Virgin Classics, will open up huge scope for us to reinvigorate our approach to classical music, starting with the development of a new brand for our activities in this genre.
We intend to be ambitious and innovative custodians of this revered catalogue and will strive to create the first-choice home for contemporary classical talent.
We are moving to make decisions as soon as we can following the transaction’s closing in order to provide employees with the greatest certainty and to retain the strongest team possible from the wealth of talent that exists within both companies.
UPDATE: Corporate insiders tell us that Warner had no choice. Universal’s pop teams made sure to retain the EMI-Virgin brands after the Parlophone disposal. Indeed the Virgin pop label team now operates as a fully-fledged label within UMG called ‘Virgin-EMI’. Warner has no rights to those names and must invent a new brand. Ex-Virgin, we guess, won’t do.