Universal Music UK has named creative executive Sally Davies as managing director of Abbey Road Studios.
Davies – who joins this week – will head up the world’s most famous recording studio during what the major described as “one of the most dynamic periods in the studios’ 92-year history”.
As well as being an iconic studio and a pioneer in new recording technology such as spatial audio/Dolby Atmos, it is a key part of the music tech ecosystem throughout its Abbey Road Red incubator programme for start-ups, including ethical AI for the creator community.
The London studio has been the subject of significant investment since the 2012 UMG acquisition of EMI. Universal Music UK CEO/chairman David Joseph described the MD role at Abbey Road as “one of most important leadership positions in our industry”.
Reporting to Universal Music UK COO David Sharpe, Sally Davies has leadership experience in world-renowned venues, theatre, festivals and events. She is joining Abbey Road from Vivendi Village where she was CEO of U-Live, the live promoter, producer and entertainment company within the Vivendi Group, a role in which she also oversaw Vivendi’s investments in live entertainment.
U-Live was previously part of Universal Music UK for three years. Vivendi was UMG’s parent company until the 2021 IPO.
Sally Davies’ 10-year tenure at U-Live saw her curate events celebrating music, lifestyle and culture, including the jazz-focused Love Supreme and Kite, the festival of music and ideas. Since 2019, she was also a producer of immersive theatre event Mamma Mia the Party! alongside Björn Ulvaeus.
Prior to joining U-Live in 2012, Davies spent seven years with AEG as assistant GM/director of events of The O2. She also held senior roles at two of London’s busiest tourist attractions, The London Eye and the Science Museum.
It is one of most important leadership positions in our industry, at the forefront of world-class recordings, sound innovation and creative education
Davies’ live event background suggests that Abbey Road will go further in that direction with its hugely recognisable brand name.
The studio already hosts its Amplify event where it opens its door to the next generation of artists, composers, producers and creatives. It is supporting emerging creatives with new studios and initiatives such as Equalise, which aims to inspire and empower young women aspiring to a career in music.
Former Abbey Road MD Isabel Garvey joined Warner Music UK in May as COO.
Abbey Road is part of Universal Music’s global studio network, alongside other iconic locations such as Capitol Studios in California.
Producer Giles Martin said: “Sally’s wealth of experience dealing with artists around the world linked to her empathy and knowledge of music is the perfect fit for Abbey Road. She has a passion for innovation as well as understanding the extraordinary legacy of the world’s most famous recording studio. I am beyond excited to work alongside her in bringing the next generation of artists to Abbey Road Studios.”
David Joseph, chairman and CEO, Universal Music UK, said: “I’ve known Sally for a long time so it was an easy decision to appoint her to one of the most important leadership positions in our industry, at the forefront of world-class recordings, sound innovation and creative education. Sally balances creativity and business strategy exceptionally well and I couldn’t be happier to welcome her back to the Universal Music family.”
Sally Davies, MD, Abbey Road Studios, said: “It’s truly an honour and privilege to be taking on the role of managing director of Abbey Road Studios, a place of great music and ground-breaking sound. I’m excited about going on this journey with the fantastic team who have fostered the environment of creativity and innovation, and help make Abbey Road the special place that it is.”