The final reckoningmain
The sackings have started at Decca. Out of 32 staff at the London headquarters, just six are being retained.
That is one to manage the office, one to answer the phone and open the mail, two to look after the royalty accounts and two more to deal with whatever instructions come down from corporate headquarters.
One thing is clear: there is nobody left at Decca to make records.
Classical artists, including the now-celebrated Tutula Bartley, are being transferred to Universal Classics and Jazz (UCJ), a crossover business that produces such half-baked trivia as the boy band Blake and the East London lad who gave up his junior football career to play the saxophone. Cecilia will feel in good company.
The residual staff at Decca will report to Michael Lang, head of Deutsche Grammophon in Hamburg.
The notion that Decca will continue to function as a production centre after these abolitionary measures is a mixture of wishful thinking and corporate fiction. The author of the fantasy is Christopher Roberts, head of UCJ.
Roberts once tried to persuade me that corporate ciphers like himself earn huge salaries and bonuses in order to protect madcap artists from their wild whims and maximise the revenue potential from their works. Given that Roberts has dedicated so much of his energy to eliminating outlets for classical artists, I wonder if should perhaps think of revising his job description – so long as he still has a job.
Decca is dead. A grand tradition has been laid waste. What remains is history – and a golden opportunity to reinvent the spirit of enterprise in classical music.
Newbies and start-ups, post your plans and logos in the comment space below.
LATE EXTRA: A sharp-eyed reader directs me to a news release from Universal Music Group, the monster that killed Decca. UMG has just appointed three more vice-presidents, just what the music world most needs right now, to ‘erase lines between physical and digital’.
One of the new bonus-guzzlers is called Rotter, Mitch Rotter. You couldn’t make it up.