Motown president Ethiopia Habtemariam and EMI Records president Rebecca Allen have launched Motown Records UK.
It’s the first big move by Allen since she was promoted to head up Universal Music UK’s market-leading label.
In her first appointments since taking over as president of EMI Records last month, Allen has promoted Rob Pascoe to the new position of MD of Motown Records UK, with Afryea Henry-Fontaine promoted to become the label’s marketing director.
Motown UK’s team will be completed over the coming weeks as it draws on the label’s rich heritage to become EMI Records’ dedicated home for releases from Motown’s US operation, alongside a new generation of British Black music.
Pascoe and Henry-Fontaine have overseen Motown repertoire in the UK over the past nine years, championing the likes of Lil Yachty, Migos and Lil Baby, as well as rising stars City Girls and the soundtrack to Queen And Slim. Motown recently marked its 60th anniversary with a year-long celebration that included a globally released documentary film, a reissue programme and a rebranding/marketing campaign that included brand partnerships with Better Gift Shop and Carhartt.
Rebecca Allen said: “The music of Motown has long influenced British culture and continues to provide the ultimate creative inspiration for generations of artists and fans. With the launch of Motown Records in the UK, with a dedicated team and resources, 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 energising and inspiring new roster at the label.
“Rob and Afryea are two of the most inspiring executives within the music business. Having already worked incredibly closely with the Motown team in the US, I have no doubt that their energy and ambition will lead this label into a very exciting new chapter in its history.”
The music of Motown has long influenced British culture and continues to provide the ultimate creative inspiration for generations of artists and fans
Motown president Ethiopia Habtemariam said: “The past five years have been a period of tremendous global growth for Motown, through artist development that’s central to our company’s 60-year history and via entrepreneurial partnerships that have greatly expanded our reach.
"The timing could not be more perfect for the launch of Motown Records UK, and I’m looking forward to working closely with Rebecca, Rob and Afryea as we sign and develop exciting new British talent, expand our platform for Black entrepreneurship in the UK and guide Motown towards even greater global success.”
The promotion of Pascoe, who will continue in his wider ambassadorial role for EMI with a particular focus on supporting the label’s US repertoire, comes after 18 years with Universal Music, where he has worked with acts including Rihanna, Jay Z, Justin Bieber, Kanye West and The Killers. For the past two years, he has been general manager of Virgin EMI (now EMI).
Afryea Henry-Fontaine’s promotion from senior marketing manager to marketing director comes after eight years with the label, having risen quickly up the ranks after joining Universal Music in 2012. She has worked with acts including Krept & Konan, Lethal Bizzle and MoStack.
Habtemariam took over at Motown in 2014, and soon launched a successful partnership with the Atlanta-based Quality Control Music (QC). Since striking the deal with QC in 2015, Motown has released projects from artists such as Lil Baby, who has amassed nearly 20 billion global streams. The QC venture is also behind hits from Migos, City Girls and Lil Yachty.
Motown has also recently entered into agreement with entrepreneurs such as Corey Smyth (representative of Vince Staples and Dave Chappelle), whose Blacksmith Recordings features a diverse array of artist talent, and since The 80s, a collective from Atlanta.
As well as established artists including Ne-Yo, Erykah Badu and Kem, Motown has rising talent on its roster such as London-based Tiana Major 9.
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PHOTO: Nicky Kelvin