Decca Records is celebrating a full house in the classical albums chart Top 10 this week. The label’s success is in large part thanks to long-serving exec Rebecca Allen, who was made Universal UK’s first female label president earlier this year when she was promoted to president. Jo Charrington has since been made president of Capitol.
Allen, who joined Decca in 1999, has had a run of successful projects for the label since taking charge, including the recent chart-topping album for Michael Ball & Alfie Boe and the highest chart placing to date for Gregory Porter. Its classical repertoire, including Andre Rieu and Ludovico Einaudi, also continues to perform strongly.
Following the Music Week Women In Music ceremony, where she was named Businesswoman Of The Year, Music Week revealed Allen’s vision for Decca, which involves diversification into publishing, management and luxury brands. “Our biggest challenge is keeping Decca relevant,” she said. “I have such a duty to ensure the longevity of this fantastic label and that’s what I want to do.”
She collected her Businesswoman Of The Year award in front of an audience including Universal Music UK & Ireland CEO and chairman David Joseph, president and CEO of Global Classics at Universal Music Group, Dickon Stainer and her label artist Imelda May, who described Allen as having “steely determination” as she presented her with the award.
To celebrate her award, here’s Rebecca Allen’s acceptance speech:
“It’s quite emotional, so please forgive me. It’s really weird for me being stood here today because I never got into the business to run a company or become a businesswoman. It just wasn’t what I was about – I was a classical music fan. I firstly need to thank all my artists over the last 18 years because, really, I’m a fan of theirs and I want to do the best by them. When they sign to our company, we have a real duty of care – the artist is first and foremost. That’s the most important job I do, to look after the artists that I represent.
“I’ve also been really fortunate in this business to not only be surrounded by some incredible women, some real powerhouses (including my own mother). But equally, and I think this is really important, I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by some incredibly liberal men and that’s really important in this business. So I firstly want to thank David Joseph, because he’s somebody that not only believes in me personally and champions me personally, but he’s also championing this incredible label called Decca and he really believes in this label. To have somebody who sits at the top of a company, to be a chairman of a company like Universal, that believes in the arts and supports genres like classical music and jazz, I think it’s so vital for the soul of this industry. So I want to thank David for that.
“I’d next like to thank a really incredible guy, Dickon Stainer, because Dickon’s not only been my friend for the last 18 years, he’s not only been my mentor for the last 18 years, he’s also been my boss – poor you, Dickon! Dickon has been such an inspiration to me, he’s guided my career and I owe him so much for shaping my future and giving me so many opportunities in my life.
“I also need to acknowledge Morna Cook [senior director HR, Universal Music UK], because I’m not only stood here today as a woman in the music industry, but I’m stood here as a mother and that’s so important that we talk about being a mother in the music industry, because it has a whole host of other challenges that we all have to address. I’m so proud that I work for a company that not only supports me as a woman in music but also supports me as a mother. So I’m really thankful for that.
Decca is a young, vibrant, innovative, dedicated, determined bunch of people
“I’ve also got to thank my husband, although he will kill me because I’m the loud one in the family, he’s very shy and very quiet. I need to thank Paul, who’s here today, because people that know me know that I’m a very hyperactive, very high-energy sort of person. What goes up must come down, and he’s there supporting me, not just through the high moments but also through the low moments, where juggling being a mother and juggling being a woman in the music business can be very challenging. I owe you so much, Paul, and I want to publicly say that.
“Then I finally have to dedicate this award. Firstly to each and every individual person at Decca because they are incredible – they’re a young, vibrant, innovative, dedicated, determined bunch of people and really if I could have each and every one of them stood with me today, I would, because I owe everything to the work that they do and the passion that they have for our label, Decca.
“Finally, I have to dedicate this award to my two beautiful daughters, who really are my inspiration and I really hope that they will be as proud of me one day as I am of them. So I want to share this award with them. Congratulations to everybody here and thank you to Music Week.”
You can read Sas Metcalfe’s International Woman Of The Year speech here, Sharleen Spiteri’s Inspirational Artist Award speech here and New Artist award winner Ray Blk's speech here. For Outstanding Contribution recipient Jo Dipple, click here.