It's not often that a record label scores a number one hit and shuts down in the same week, so shed a tear for Decca. Barring a last-minute change of heart, the London-based music icon is going to be wiped off the map before Valentine's Day.
Still, no point waxing nostalgic. Lots of firms are going to the wall, taking their traditions to oblivion. Decca joins a long queue at the morgue. The regret is that what dies with Decca is more than just a label ; it is the very concept of label as a mark of character, a name that united artists and listeners in the search for a particular quality. The idea of label defined the record industry. It is the strategic antithesis of sterile agglomerates like Universal.
Without labels, artists spin off to Starbucks, listeners lose interest and the remnants of the record business go rummaging in dumpbins. Even a number-one classical hit barely shifts 500 copies a week, not enough to support an executive's pension fund. It's the end of the line for Decca, the last waltz in a bare-walled studio of dreams.
And then came the confirmation:
Decca Music Group has confirmed a "realignment" of its U.K. operation, with part of its roster transferring to Universal Classics & Jazz.
"Decca's classical crossover and other signings will be assigned to UCJ, the U.K.'s longstanding No. 1 classical labels," said a Decca statement issued to Billboard.biz by Universal Music Group International. "Decca Label Group in the U.S. is unaffected by this realignment."
The statement reaffirmed Decca's position as an "active" label in the U.K., which will continue "signing and recording artists." The label will continue to operate its London office as a "creative centre."
According to Universal Music Group, UCJ claimed 55% of the U.K. classical market in 2008 and possessed seven of the top 10 classical albums.
Last month Bogdan Roscic quit as the London-based managing director of the Decca Music Group, moving to become president of Sony Music Classical. Decca Music Group's roster includes Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras and Renée Fleming.