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British music labels shuffle execs

Gatfield to head up A&R Labels for EMI

Universal Music Group exec Nick Gatfield, the former member of Dexy’s Midnight Runners who signed Amy Winehouse, will be moving to EMI Music as president of A&R labels, North America and U.K.

The move, considered the first significant hiring since Guy Hands reorganized EMI into departmental silos, prompted Universal to immediately crown Darcus Beese and Ted Cockle as co-prexies of the Island Records Group.

Gatfield had been president of Universal’s Island Records Group in the U.K. since 2001 and his contract was reportedly up. Among the artists he brought to the label were Keane, Mika, the Fratellis, Robyn and Sam Sparro.

“At Universal Island he has led a complete turnaround of the label in both creative and financial terms and built it into the most successful domestic repertoire label in the U.K.,” said Hands, executive chairman of EMI. “I believe the combination of Nick Gatfield and Douglas Merrill working together will enable EMI to reposition itself in new music.”

One name Hands left off the list is Roger Ames, who was named to the top job in North America a year ago. EMI announced that all the company’s label heads in North America and the U.K. will report to Gatfield. The heads of the Capitol, Virgin and Blue Note labels in the U.S. have been reporting to Ames, who is most likely looking at a nonoperational role.

Recognized as one of the most artist-friendly execs in the industry, Gatfield was president of PolyGram’s Polydor Records prior to Universal’s acquisition of the conglom. He began his business career at EMI Records in the U.K.

In a statement, Gatfield said EMI “is a company that is leading the most ambitious transformation of the music industry. My goal is to nurture that culture of creativity and change, working in true partnership with the talented artists and A&R people at EMI.”

Gatfield’s job at Island is being split between Beese, the label’s director of A&R, and Cockle, the marketing director.

Beese has been working at Island for 15 years and is credited with finding Winehouse and Sugababes, among others.

Cockle joined Island in 2005 and has been marketing director since 2006. As well as working with the Feeling, Winehouse and Sugababes, he most recently steered the campaign for Mika.

The duo will report to Universal Music U.K. chairman-CEO David Joseph. “They are the new generation of record executives, and both recognize it is original artistry that matters. I know they will be even more successful as the leaders of an amazing record company in an exciting and fast-changing business,” he said.

EMI has announced but not yet executed a staff reduction of 2,000 employees worldwide. The restructuring, according to recent reports, could come as soon as the end of this month. Others have targeted June for the pinkslips.

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