"No other job is as attractive as this in a time of enormous change and challenge for the music industry."
——Alain Levy, newly named EMI Recorded Music Worldwide CEO


Nicoli Makes Change at the Top of Struggling Music Group
EMI Recorded Music Worldwide Chairman/CEO Ken Berry has left the company and will be replaced by former PolyGram President/CEO Alain Levy.

Berry was informed of the change in London Saturday by EMI Group Chairman Eric Nicoli, who made the decision, according to sources, then informed his label heads on Sunday (10/14).

Levy, whose title will also be Worldwide Chairman/CEO, will report to Nicoli. Joining him as Vice Chairman will be David Munns, onetime Senior VP of Pop Marketing worldwide at PolyGram, EMI veteran and manager for the rock band Bon Jovi. Levy is expected to be in EMI's London office this morning (10/15).

"In these challenging market conditions, Alain brings a unique blend of creative, commercial, strategic and leadership skills to take the business forward to the next level," Nicoli said.

Berry departs after a four-year run atop the British major that saw two failed merger attempts (with BMG and WMG), declining marketshare, the much-criticized $80 million signing of Mariah Carey and wavering stock prices at parent EMI Group.

Levy commented: "No other job is as attractive as this in a time of enormous change and challenge for the music industry. I am excited about the possibilities and I am delighted to be joining Eric's team. It is an honor to be part of EMI with its long history of great artists, music and people."

Berry said: "I have had a wonderful time at EMI. It is a fantastic company. I wish the company, its employees and artists the greatest success for the future."

The well-liked executive had risen through the ranks to eventually become Executive Director of EMI Group while also overseeing the recorded music division.

Berry's career began at Virgin Records in 1973. He went on to become a Director of the Virgin Group and Managing Director of the Virgin Music Group. When Virgin Music was acquired by EMI in 1992, Berry was appointed Chairman/CEO of Virgin Music. Two years later, he became the President/CEO of EMI Records Group International, and in 1997 he was named CEO of EMI Recorded Music.

Levy most recently served as President/CEO of PolyGram until PolyGram was purchased by Universal Music Group in 1998. He left the company after reportedly not being told of the imminent acquisition, having almost quadrupled the stock price from $16-$57 under his watch. He received a $10 million buyout from PolyGram parent Philips Electronics.

Levy joins EMI after much shuffling in the label's ranks. Following failed merger attempts with Warner Music Group in 2000 and Bertelsmann's BMG this year, EMI has been making internal moves to get the company back on track. Among those, Berry named Andy Slater President/CEO of flagship label Capitol Records and recently ordered the folding of Priority Records into the Capitol unit.

Nicoli addressed company-wide concerns over the moves in an internal memo: "I am acutely aware that a change of this importance creates uncertainty across the organization, especially for the senior management team, and that you all feel that the company needs a period of stability after some years of change and speculation."

Shares in EMI were down 12 3/4 pence at the close of trading, or 4.57 percent, to 267.30 pence (or $3.97), but fund managers were generally positive about the move.

So what's next? Further changes may occur when the EMI Executive Board meets this Thursday, followed on Friday by a meeting of the full Board of Directors. More details as we get them.