Darcus Beese, president and CEO of Island Records since David Massey’s departure in 2018, will exit the company, a rep for parent company Universal Music Group has confirmed to Variety.
“Darcus informed us of his decision to return to the U.K. for personal reasons and to pursue new career opportunities there,” the statement reads. “We fully support his decision and we are thankful to Darcus for his many contributions to Island Records throughout the years.”
While the label enjoyed success during Beese’s stint with Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato and recently signed Sabrina Carpenter, the label did not have a high profile and sources say there was unhappiness with its failure to attract hip-hop talent.
The move leaves two of Universal’s New York-based labels without CEOs — Def Jam has been run by UMG general counsel Jeffrey Harleston since Paul Rosenberg’s departure in February of last year — although sources say that Island is run more as a boutique imprint than a stand-alone; much of its infrastructure is handled by UMG itself or the Republic label, which handles its radio promotion and other functions. There was no word on a successor at the time of this article’s publication.
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. Beese was inducted as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2014 for services to the U.K. music industry.