CEO Tony Harlow has unveiled some big changes at Warner Music UK.
It follows the news that the major is cutting 270 jobs globally as it aims to evolve the business.
Warner Music UK’s series of strategic changes are also designed to allow the company to evolve into the future, including two senior appointments as well as a collaboration of label resources between Warner Records and Parlophone. That will see an expanded role for Warner Records UK president Joe Kentish.
Effective May 9, Isabel Garvey – most recently MD of Universal Music’s Abbey Road Studios – will take up the newly created post of chief operating officer, Warner Music UK, reporting to Harlow.
There will also be a leadership change at Parlophone Records, with Jennifer Ivory, currently, SVP, Warner Records UK, taking over as managing director.
As part of the changes, Parlophone co-presidents Nick Burgess, Mark 'Mitch' Mitchell and general manager Jack Melhuish will exit the label.
Tony Harlow said: "This is an exciting new phase for WMUK. Isabel’s appointment signals our constant evolution, bringing her widely admired creativity, innovation and technological entrepreneurship to the service of our artists and their visions. Jen has been with us for over 14 years and has grown into one of the most exceptional and influential voices at WMUK and one of our best marketeers. She supervised four No.1 albums last year alone. Under her leadership, Parlophone’s employees will be dedicated to signing and developing the next generation of outstanding talent."
"I'd like to thank Nick and Mitch for an outstanding job at Parlophone," added Harlow. "They've been strong and thoughtful leaders in difficult times and, in partnership with Jack, have had a real impact that has been vital for Parlophone's growth. We wish them well in their future adventures.”
As part of the changes, Parlophone will join Warner Records UK, Roadrunner, FFRR and Elektra Entertainment in a newly created coalition of labels which will sit under the overall guidance of Warner Records UK president Joe Kentish. Within this new structure, Ivory, Kentish and recently appointed MD of Warner Records UK, Alex Burford, will strategically plan and boost both labels as part of the collaborative group. Burford, a former Warner Records head of marketing, joined from a previous role as GM of Sony Music's Black Butter.
Parlophone will maintain independent A&R and marketing functions but will now draw on a centralised team of experts and adopt a shared service approach to the other key functions.
Music Week understands that Parlophone, which launched as a UK label in 1923, will maintain its presence as a frontline record company within the new wider coalition. The label, formerly part of EMI, is one of the most famous in the world with a history of recording artists including The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Hollies and, later, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, Blur and Radiohead.
Parlophone was acquired by Warner Music in 2012 as part of a European Commission requirement for UMG's deal to take control of EMI.
The changes appear to have been sudden, with Melhuish only just promoted to a new role of general manager last month. Mitchell took charge at Parlophone just over five years ago - later joined by Burgess - following the departure of longtime label boss Miles Leonard, who spent over 20 years there.
With Parlophone and Warner Records UK coming together and drawing on the expertise of our new centralised coalition, we will harness our collective firepower
These changes will see Ivory report into both Harlow as well as Kentish – who will also supervise and refocus Parlophone's A&R team. Ivory will continue to provide some marketing support to Warner Records UK as part of this new collaborative structure at WMUK.
“In the modern, rapidly evolving digital business, we're always pushing for the most agile and forward-thinking ways to super-serve our talent,” said Harlow. “The market is increasingly fragmented, and it takes more expertise to service all channels and to serve them properly. Our artists need more specialists to explore every available opportunity.
"With Parlophone and Warner Records UK coming together and drawing on the expertise of our new centralised coalition, we will harness our collective firepower and lean on a wide range of proficient minds to take the company forward.”
The move to centralise operations as part of a coalition follows recent label restructuring, including Capitol becoming part of EMI Records at Universal Music UK, and Ministry Of Sound operating as part of Columbia Records at Sony Music UK.
Isabel Garvey has a track record at major labels in senior executive positions, including five years as SVP of commercial channels and consumer marketing at Warner Music International and, before that, VP of digital at EMI.
Garvey has joined WMUK from Abbey Road Studios, where she was appointed MD in 2014. During her tenure she expanded both the studio footprint and the brand, launching digital production services and establishing Europe's first incubator for music tech innovation.
Isabel Garvey said: “I am delighted to be re-joining the Warner Music family at a time when WMUK is positioning itself towards an exciting and innovative future. The industry is more challenging and yet full of opportunity than ever, and I look forward to working with Tony, the dynamic executive team and the brilliant roster of artists to grow the business further.”
Ivory, most recently SVP at Warner Records UK, will immediately assume charge of the entire Parlophone portfolio, overseeing the strategic direction of the label and driving an even stronger focus on marketing and creativity. Ivory joined the Music Week Women In Music Roll Of Honour in 2022.
She steps into her new Parlophone role as the label celebrates strong recent campaigns for Ashnikko, Coldplay, David Guetta, Gabriels, Gorillaz and Sam Ryder, along with a raft of emerging artists in a wide range of genres.
Ivory has had a successful run at Warner Records UK, including multiple No.1 album campaigns and the first ever chart-eligible NFT LP from Muse.
Jennifer Ivory said: "Ever since I was young, the Parlophone label, its artists and its records have played such an important role in my life. Growing up I always saw them as the north star of British music culture. I'm honoured to have a part in taking this iconic British label into a successful future. I have built my career on a foundation of great relationships with artists, and I'm pleased that in my new role, I can continue guiding the campaigns of Warner Records artists I've supported, like Biffy Clyro, Foals, Liam Gallagher, Muse and Royal Blood."
The new coalition also brings about the promotion of Claire Coster, who is upped to a centralised director of publicity post, overseeing all talent press across WMUK. In a long and successful career at Atlantic Records UK, Coster has played a critical role in supporting multiple campaigns for Anne-Marie, Charli XCX and Ed Sheeran.
Colette Carey, recently promoted to VP artist relations, will also head up a centralised artist relations team across WMUK.
In addition, Jane Arthy is promoted to SVP of promotions, Sebastian Simone will continue his work in Web3 and the metaverse as VP of community, and Theresa Adebiyi also joins as creative director. All three, and their teams, will work across Parlophone and Warner Records UK to strengthen both label offerings, especially in data and emerging digital technologies.