UNIVERSAL MUSIC U.K.
A year ago, David Joseph’s plate was full of potentially daunting challenges, not to mention mistrust throughout the industry about Universal’s intentions for its EMI inheritance. But 2013 was the year in which Capitol U.K. and Virgin EMI joined the group of labels he oversees that includes Decca, Island and Polydor, as Abbey Road Studios were also added to his remit. There were platinum-selling album breakthroughs for Jake Bugg (now with Virgin EMI after launching on Mercury, whose artists were absorbed into the new label last March) and Bastille (on Virgin). The Polydor soundtrack to “Les Misérables” was a global blockbuster. Last year was also Joseph’s third and final as chairman of the BRITs Committee, with February’s awards show attracting 6.5 million viewers on ITV, the highest tally since 2005. “We came into 2013 facing a fair amount of skepticism about what the EMI purchase would mean, in terms of the labels’ identities,” Joseph says. “So it was great to see Virgin, reinvigorated as Virgin EMI, back on top as the U.K.’s No. 1 label in its 40th year. We’ve also been setting up for a big year with Capitol U.K., and there’ll be some dynamic new chapters to come at Abbey Road Studios. Musically, there were exciting U.K. breakthroughs by Bastille, Jake Bugg, Disclosure and John Newman.” —Paul Sexton