In a move seen as almost inevitable by many in the music biz, Nancy Berry has ankled her post as vice chairman of Virgin Records Group. Move comes just days after her former husband Ken Berry was replaced at the helm of Virgin parent EMI Recorded Music by ex-Polygram chief Alain Levy.
Departure marks Levy’s first visible action to reshape EMI’s embattled U.S. label divisions, which have given up substantial market share over the past few years; EMI is currently in last place among the big five record congloms.
Nancy Berry, who has been with Virgin’s U.S. operations for more than two decades since signing on as Ken Berry’s assistant at age 19, came under fire in recent months over the $80 million signing of Mariah Carey, whose short career at Virgin has been plagued by repeated mental breakdowns and anemic record sales.
Exec also drew criticism after Virgin’s loss of hot new rock act Custom, who had been the subject of a seven-figure bidding war. Custom was reportedly allowed to leave the label — and keep his record, which cost Virgin $750,000 to make — after he accused Berry of harassing him. The rocker later signed a deal with Ted Field’s ArtistDirect Records.
But Berry has also had a hand in many of Virgin’s recent successes, including multiplatinum records by Lenny Kravitz and Janet Jackson. Berry had said that she intended to stay on board to oversee the marketing of Kravitz’s latest project, “Lenny,” slated for release on Tuesday.
Berry will not be replaced; her duties will be split among remaining Virgin execs. The status of Virgin co-presidents Ray Cooper and Ashley Newton is uncertain, though insiders said the two were likely to remain in their posts for the foreseeable future.