Darcus Beese, president of Island Records U.K., will replace outgoing David Massey at the helm of the label’s U.S. operation, sources confirmed to Variety. The news was first reported in Hits; reps for Island and parent company Universal Music Group did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
A London native with a West Indian background, Beese has been with Island for his entire professional career, joining as an assistant in the promotion department in 1993 and gradually rising to A&R director, in 2008 co-president and president five years later. He signed and/or worked closely with a wide array of artists including Amy Winehouse, Florence & the Machine, Disclosure, Taio Cruz, Dizzee Rascal, Ben Howard, Gotye, Jessie J and others. He also oversaw the U.K. success of Drake, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj and the continued success of U2 — all of whom are signed to the label in the U.K.
He is also an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire), a distinction he received in 2014.
Speaking to Music Week in 2016 about the label’s diverse roster, Beese said, “It’s hard to imagine two artists as different as PJ Harvey and Ariana Grande [who is on Island in the U.K.] I always said that Island is a broad church. Whether it’s American repertoire or domestic, you’ve got to be in the game. Polly [Harvey] signed to Island when I started, we were a month apart and our birthdays are a month apart as well. To be here, putting out her latest record and it getting to No.1 was a feat for Island Records. As a label, you do have to reflect the majority of what’s going on in the marketplace.
“You cut me and I bleed Island,” he added. “I wouldn’t work anywhere else.”