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SONY MUSIC U.K. ACQUIRES MINISTRY OF SOUND

Jason Iley’s Sony Music U.K. has acquired Lohan Presencer’s Ministry of Sound, bringing the previously independent label’s artists, back catalogue and compilations business under the major label’s wing.

Discussing the deal, Doug Morris said: “This agreement underscores our ongoing commitment to investing in great artistry and hit music. On behalf of the entire Sony Music family, I’m excited to welcome the wonderful artists and talented team at Ministry of Sound Recordings to our lineup of world-class creative centers. I would like to send my congratulations to both Edgar [Berger] and Jason.”

Ministry will boost Sony U.K.’s marketshare by around 2.5%, according to Q2’s album equivalent group share sales figures, bringing him closer to rival David Joseph’s UMG U.K. If Sony had MoS under its belt in Q2, its marketshare would have been 24.6%—10.5% behind UMG, and 7% ahead of Max Lousada’s WMG.

MoS has traditionally been a dance compilations and singles-led business, launching in 1993 after the arrival of its nightclub in 1991. By the late 1990s, it had become the U.K.’s largest indie label, spawned a radio show and licensed products, pulling in $41m in 1998. It also played a huge role in making dance music mainstream. The company went into the label business with Rulin’ Records for house and Data Records for trance, consolidating them under the Ministry of Sound banner in 2009. 

    Jason Iley

Now, the label boasts over 70m worldwide cumulative album sales, and has scored 40 U.K. #1 albums—all but one of them compilations—and 21 U.K. #1 singles thanks to artists including DJ Fresh, Swedish DJ Eric Prydz, Wretch 32, KDA and Sigala (who has registered four Top 10 hits since September when his “Easy Love” topped the chart, and has been licensed to Sony Music internationally). The label’s last #1 was KDA f/Katy B & Tinie Tempah’s "Turn The Music Louder (Rumble)" late last year.

And it’s worth noting that the label has had multiple Sony-related collaborations: Benny Benassi worked with Chris Brown; Calvin Harris featured singer/rapper Example on “We’ll Be Coming Back” and DJ Fresh’s #1 single “Hot Right Now” featured Rita Ora.

MoS’ curation team, led by Naz Idelji, is responsible for approximately one in every six compilation albums sold in the U.K., having developed numerous brands including The Annual, Dance Nation, Trance Nation and Clubbers’ Guide.

Example, the first signing after the consolidation, has consistently been hitting the Top 40 since his debut “Watch the Sun Come Up” in 2009. His biggest single was 2012’s “Say Nothing,” which peaked at #2; his 2011 album Playing in the Shadows hit #1 and spent more than 10 months on the chart.

On the album side, London Grammar’s If You Wait debuted at #2 on the U.K. Official Chart in 2013 and went on to spend two years on the chart.

    Lohan Presencer

Example and London Grammar both reflect a bold move into artist development that has been seen in recent years and has paid dividends. Both projects have been honed by MD David Dollimore, A&R Director Dipesh Parmar and marketing exec Nicola Spokes.

Dollimore joined Ministry of Sound in 2000 and basically worked his way up from being an unpaid intern. His first major success was Eric Prydz, who hit #1 in 2004 with “Call on Me.” He also signed Benassi and Tomcraft.

Said Iley: “Ministry of Sound is one of the greatest brands in music. I’m delighted to welcome one of the most innovative, smart and pioneering labels to the Sony Music family. David and Dipesh’s track record, alongside one of the best curation teams in the business, speaks for itself and the label will be another hugely exciting addition to Sony Music U.K.’s vision for the future.”

Presencer added: “I’m delighted we have found the right home to grow Ministry of Sound Recordings at a global level while keeping its unique identity. Sony Music is a world-class company that understands our ethos of exceptional curation and developing young talent. Ministry of Sound Recordings had its most successful year to date in 2015. Sony has the scale and strength within the industry to project our artists and music onto an even bigger platform.”

Berger, Chairman and CEO, International, Sony Music Entertainment, concluded: “Ministry’s success story is exceptional and the acquisition is an important milestone in our growth strategy. We welcome the opportunity to further internationalise the footprint of this legendary British independent record label.”

Additional reporting by Phil Gallo

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