Universal Music UK confirms Ted Cockle's Virgin EMI exit

Ted Cockle

The UK’s No.1 record label, Virgin EMI, is looking for a new president after the surprise departure of Ted Cockle.

A Universal Music UK spokesperson confirmed Cockle’s departure to Music Week, but declined to comment further, other than to wish the executive well.

While there has been industry speculation about Virgin EMI in recent months, Cockle’s exit on Friday night (June 12) took most in the biz by surprise.

Cockle has been one of the UK’s most successful label executives of recent times. Last year, Virgin EMI topped the Music Week/Official Charts Company 2019 market shares in five of the seven key metrics. It also leads this year’s AES standings, with a 10.5% share of All Albums and a 10.4% take of Artist Albums. The label is shortlisted in multiple categories at the 2020 Music Week Awards, including Record Company Of The Year.

Cockle has run Virgin EMI since it was launched in 2013 as a merger between Mercury Records and Virgin Records in the wake of Universal’s purchase of EMI. The label has enjoyed huge success with domestic artists such as Lewis Capaldi, James Bay and Emeli Sandé, as well as providing a UK home for international superstars such as Taylor Swift, Halsey, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry.

Before joining Virgin EMI, Cockle had formed a successful partnership with Darcus Beese as co-heads of Island UK, where they broke the likes of Amy Winehouse, Florence + The Machine and Keane. Beese now runs the US Island. Prior to that Cockle was at Sony.

Until a replacement is announced, Virgin EMI will be run by its senior management team. Cockle had revamped that team in recent years, with appointments/promotions for the likes of Rob Pascoe, Thomas Haimovici, Michael Rivalland, Fay Hoyte, Daniel Parmar and Ben Parmar.

In 2018, he told Music Week that running the UK’s No.1 label was akin to being in charge of a Premier League football team.

“It’s football manager material,” he said. “You’re aware that you could be [former Chelsea manager] Avram Grant; missed penalties in the Champions League final and it could be all over. Then you think, ‘That’s probably not a bad place to be, in the Champions League final’.”

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