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Verve President Danny Bennett Steps Down as UMG Restructures Jazz and Classical Divisions

Verve Label Group president/CEO Danny Bennett has stepped down, Universal Music Group announced Thursday. Oversight of Verve will be taken over by Dickon Stainer, president/CEO of Universal Classics and Jazz, who will add the labels to a stable that already includes heading up Deutsche Grammophon and the Decca Label Group.

The restructuring was cited by the company as part of a “move to further internationalize Verve.” Stainer works out of both the London and New York offices for UMG.

Bennett — pictured above at a recent Grammys after-party with his father, Tony Bennett, and UMG chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge — will continue to operate the management company he founded in 1979, RPM Productions.

UMG issued amicable statements from Bennett and Grainge as well as Stainer. “I’d like to thank Danny for helping to revitalize Verve and bringing some extraordinary artists into the UMG family,” said Grainge. “We look forward to working with him in the future.”

Said Bennett, “It has been an honor to work with Sir Lucian Grainge and Michele Anthony, along with the whole UMG family, and I’m thankful for the privilege of being able to build an amazing roster of new artists as well as a talented team of creative professionals who share my passion for the music.”

Bennett took the reins of Verve in 2016, following a four-year run by the famous producer David Foster. Under the helm of both Bennett and Foster, Verve and its sister labels had aligned with artists well outside the jazz and classical boxes, from New Orleans’ Tank and the Bangas to Lyle Lovett and an upcoming release from T Bone Burnett. It remains to be seen whether that will remain an emphasis under the new structure.

Diana Krall and Andrea Bocelli (who had a No. 1 bestselling album in November) are the biggest contemporary names on Verve, with the label’s catalog containing valuable titles from jazz greats like Nina Simone, Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane.

Stainer emphasized several of the company’s successful and developing artists in his statement. “Classical and jazz are amongst the musical wonders of the world,” he said. “Streaming has opened a flood of discovery and has further enabled us to ensure our artists have a global reach. The developing international success of Max Richter, Gregory Porter, Lang Lang, Jacob Collier and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, among others, has demonstrated that we need to work with a seamlessly coordinated global approach (that) achieves the greatest results possible on behalf of our exceptional artists.”

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