Motown Records is finally making its move into the U.K. with the launch of a new label, led by Rob Pascoe.
Announced Monday (Sept. 14), Motown Records U.K. will have its own dedicated team and resources, and an appetite for signing local artists. The first executive appointments are managing director Pascoe and marketing director Afryea Henry-Fontaine, both of whom are Universal Music Group stalwarts, with more recruits to be announced in the coming weeks.
The new company is spearheaded by Motown president Ethiopia Habtemariam and EMI Records’ recently-appointed president Rebecca Allen, a 20-year UMG veteran and former Billboard Women In Music honoree.
It’s a move that’s arguably long overdue, considering the iconic label’s rich history of success on the other side of the Atlantic dating back more than half a century.
According to a statement, the U.K. business will serve as EMI Records’ dedicated home for releases “from Motown’s revitalized U.S. operation alongside a new generation of British Black music.”
The timing “could not be more perfect,” notes Habtemariam, who insists the new team will “sign and develop exciting new British talent,” expand the company’s “platform for Black entrepreneurship” in the U.K. and “guide Motown towards even greater global success.”
Motown last year celebrated its 60th anniversary with a year-long parade of events, activities and special releases. Through the years, Motown music was released on various UMG labels and as highly sought-after imports.
With the launch of Motown Records in the U.K., explains Allen, “we’re looking forward to bringing the music of this culture-defining label and its artists to the widest possible audiences as well as building an energizing and inspiring new roster at the label.”
Helming the new label is Pascoe, who has logged 18 years with Universal and has served as GM of Virgin EMI for the past two years. Following his promotion, Pascoe will continue in his wider ambassadorial role for EMI with a focus on supporting the label’s U.S. repertoire, reads a corporate message.
Meanwhile, Henry-Fontaine is promoted from senior marketing manager at UMG to marketing director.
Founded by Berry Gordy as Tamla Records back in 1959, Motown is so much more than a brand. It’s a cultural touchstone and the engine for a seemingly endless conveyor belt of superstars from Stevie Wonder to Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, the Jackson 5 and many more.
Today, its roster features Ne-Yo, Erykah Badu, Kem, and London-based Tiana Major 9, whose new EP At Sixes And Sevens was recently tipped by NME as showcasing the artist’s “potential to join the greats.”