“I am delighted to have such a world-class executive joining Columbia Records and am also particularly looking forward to renewing our working relationship, which has proved so successful in the past,” added Iley.
Unger-Hamilton began his career in the early nineties when he launched Go! Beat Records, scoring critical and commercial success with Portishead and Gabrielle. He also co-wrote “Rise,” the title track of Gabrielle’s third and most successful album, which itself became a U.K. number one single. Prior to joining Universal-owned Polydor in 2008, he also held a number of senior roles at Virgin Records, while his younger brother Gus is a member of the Mercury Prize-winning band Alt-J.
Commenting on his appointment as Columbia UK present, Unger-Hamilton credited the label with being a formative influence on his life. “I was about 13 years old when I first heard Bob Dylanm after my mum left a cassette of Biograph lying around. Columbia Records changed my life,” he said, calling the historic imprint “the ultimate artist company.”
“The U.S. team has done such an incredible job -- and you can't imagine how much it means to me to be asked by Jason to lead the U.K. company. I will try to do it justice,” he went on to say.
The exit of Columbia U.K.’s previous co-presidents Alison Donald and Mark Terry was confirmed by Iley, who said in a statement: “I would like to thank Alison and Mark for all their hard work over the last few years – and wish them well for the future.”
The executive reshuffle at the U.K. arm of Columbia comes just over a week after it was announced that Columbia Records chairman and CEO Rob Stringer was stepping up to the role of Chief Executive Officer of Sony Music Entertainment. Current SME CEO Doug Morris will transition to the role of chairman in April 2017. Iley is among the names rumoured to be in the running for the top job at Columbia Records following Stringer's promotion.
The past year has, meanwhile, seen Sony Music U.K. acquire Ministry of Sound, one of Britain's biggest independent labels with cumulative album sales in excess of 70 million, including 40 U.K. No. 1 albums and over 20 chart-topping singles. That acquisition significantly boosted the label's already strong domestic market share, which this week sees it claiming the U.K. number 1 album, single, national and regional airplay track, with Elvis’s “The Wonder Of You,” Little Mix’s “Shout Out To My Ex” and James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go,” respectively.