Universal’s catalogue chief finds new catalogue

Universal’s catalogue chief finds new catalogue


norman lebrecht

April 15, 2016

Among the many changes at Universal Classics, Graham Southern lost his job as COO. Graham, formerly of EMI, is a man who walks around with the entire recorded catalogue in his head.

Delighted to hear he has found a new job as COO of Presto Classical, a mail-order and download firm.


graham southern pope

He’s the one to the right of the Pope.


  • Master Batour says:

    Losing people who possess an in-depth knowledge of the entire history of a recording company is a very bad sign.

    Having already abandoned, for the most part, a serious and coherent A&R strategy for their core classical artists, by now also losing the memory, knowledge and understanding of their extensive back catalogues, Universal Classics continues its precipitous fall. There are fewer and fewer people who possess this kind of knowledge, so it is unlikely that a replacement can be found easily. Judging by what I read on this blog and what I hear within the profession, I doubt that Universal Classics would even realise that, nor even find it a cause for concern.

    • Anon says:

      You are damn right. They do not want people who are cultured and educated about the past. They want people who embrace the future. Whatever that means. (I think it means a lot of hot hair, some of it very smelly)
      Apparently it means you have to be a heroic idiot, who fights for the Gods. Like a Siegfried or Parsifal.
      They have simply abandoned music.
      They are selling “units”. (seriously)
      What the all-controlling bean counters and shareholder interest dimwits will never understand, is that non-tangible assets mean, they are not countable, but their fallacy is, they believe they also do not exist.
      If you take the soul out of your operation, and consequently out of your products, people sense it and loose interest.
      No money in the world alone can buy in house competence alone.
      You have to have the right people, give them time, and EMPOWER them to do the right things.
      It’s probably hopeless. How do you explain a blind person the concept of color?
      The future of the recording business is with small enterprises, run by the owners, who also care about the product.
      The sooner the majors disappear, the better. They are more a ballast than a upward force bottom line.

  • La Verita says:

    Yes, that’s right! Universal is sinking into the same pit as BMG Classics, which killed the once great RCA Red Seal label back in the 1990’s. They got rid of anyone with classical music expertise & extensive knowledge of that great catalog, and replaced them all with an exceptional cast of toadies & lick-spittles, including a wine salesman, a yogurt salesman, a talentless wanna-be singer, light-weights from soft-drink & hair-spray companies, etc. The party’s over, folks – Classical music is dead at retail, thanks to the egomaniacal idiots who hijacked the industry and ran it into the ground.

    • Will Duffay says:

      Well…the old labels aren’t strong any more. But classical music is very much alive with the independents. Hyperion, Bis, Naxos, Linn, Channel Classics, Naive, Harmonia Mundi etc etc. And even the big labels can still put out great stuff (Chailly Beethoven on Decca, for example, or Pappano’s Aida on Warner). So let’s not despair just yet.

      • Christopher Culver says:

        I’m not sure the minor-label classical music scene can be described as “very much” alive, more like “just barely hanging on”. Some of the labels you mention have been pretty upfront that times are tough, and the long-term future for their business is very much in doubt.

        • Anon says:

          The one major problem of the classical scene is that they are strapped to the belly of the music industry, as far as their distribution models are concerned, but that the customers are actually a very special crowd that has other expectations than the average mass pop culture customer.
          For instance would many classical lovers still buy CDs, but in many countries they have been almost out phased, due to the majors giving a rats behind about the classical niche and dropping the physical format.
          So when confronted with declining CD sales as far as classical is concerned, be very careful. It is not necessarily a sign of declining demand, but more likely a sign of declining supply. (following declining demand in the pop sector)

  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    Of course we know hi. But who is the guy in white next to him?