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Universal creates new Mercury Classics label to find 'fresh perspectives'

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Old Mercury albums remain dear to collectors.

Universal, one of the world’s biggest music labels and owner of Deutsche Grammophon and Decca, two respected classical brands, is launching a new one, Mercury Classics, to provide “fresh perspectives” in classical recording.

This at a time when the big labels can’t seem to figure out what to do with their huge back catalogues or how to balance the brave new world of sharing against the old world of rights ownership.

Says the new label’s head, Alexander Buhr, previously with Deutche Grammophon: “There has rarely been so much opportunity to find new ways of looking at classical music. There is an audience hungry for new experiences and the boundaries between musical genres are becoming more penetrable.

“Mercury Classics will be a home for artists who are aware of classical music’s great heritage and who are searching for their own way of approaching it and extending the tradition for our time. The aim is to create, nurture and support music of integrity.”

As opposed to, say, Jan Lisiecki’s début Mozart album with Deutche Grammphon, due out on Tuesday?

Universal owns the old Mercury and Mercury Living Presence trademarks, which remain dear to collectors.

At the announcement of the new label, which has not disclosed a list of artists or projects, Universal Music Group International COO, Max Hole, stated: “There’s no better time to take audiences for classical music beyond their imagination, and there’s no one better to deliver on that promise than Alex. We’re confident that he will lead Mercury Classics with distinction and flair.”

Strip away the PR-speak, and what have we?

If someone can explain to me why a company needs to split its marketing focus so many different ways for the same genre of music, I’m all ears.

John Terauds

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