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Goldberg seated as Mercury Group chair

Polygram Music Group has upped Danny Goldberg to the new post of chairman of Mercury Group, where he will have oversight for a contingent of record labels including Mercury, Motown, Verve, London, Deutsche Grammophon and Philips Music Group.

The shift — which adds a series of label groups under the Polygram banner, puts the conglom more in line with models at other major music companies — recognizes Goldberg’s role in reviving Mercury Records, which he will continue to run.

Under the new structure, Motown’s day-to-day operations will continue to be overseen by label chairman Clarence Avant during the search for a new president.

The classics and jazz group will continue to be overseen by Chris Roberts while a prexy for Verve Records is sought.

“Danny has done well and this (new job) will allow him to play a broader role in the entire company,” Roger Ames, prexy of Polygram Music Group, told Daily Variety. “But we now also have the ability for our classical and jazz labels to call on Danny and his successful team to help them crossover their releases, or at the very least give them someone to talk to while developing their businesses.” The nod to Goldberg, who will continue to report to Ames, had been anticipated (Daily Variety, Aug. 8).

Ames said a Motown prexy, as well as a chief of Verve, likely will be named by the end of the year.

The addition of the classics and jazz group is a coup for Goldberg, who is expected to tap his pop sensibilities to help market artists in those genres. Insiders estimate Verve accounts for as much as 40% of the group’s revenues.

“The (change) makes Mercury Group more renaissance in character, as it has every genre of music under its roof,” Goldberg said. “But I don’t think it’s that dramatic of a change. I’ll have some corporate responsibility in addition to my Mercury (gig), but I’ll also be available to the other labels.”

As chief of Mercury Records, Goldberg has been on a roll since taking the label’s reins in November 1995, and has turned a moribund label into a contender. Under Goldberg, the label’s revenues have soared and market share has tripled. His reputation for creating a career-nurturing, artist-friendly environment has helped put Mercury atop many dealmakers’ shopping lists.

Though he inherited success stories Joan Osborne and Jon Bon Jovi, Goldberg has scored big with new signees including teen trio Hanson, whose debut album has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide, and the Cardigans. Albums from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and OMC also are breaking.

Mercury Records — which also includes Mercury Nashville, run by prexy Luke Lewis, and whose artists include Shania Twain and Kathy Mattea, among others —also has entered into a number of joint ventures with companies including Capricorn Records, home to the platinum artists 311 and Cake, and Triloka Records.

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