Motown Records launches in UK
The iconic label is being expanded out of its Los Angeles-based home at Capitol Records Group, becoming part of London-based EMI Records.

Rob Pascoe has been named Managing Director of Motown Records UK, with Afryea Henry-Fontaine stepping up to become the label’s Marketing Director (pictured).

The duo are the first appointments made by Rebecca Allen since she became President of EMI Records last month.

Additional hires will be made by Motown UK in the coming weeks. In a press release, Universal says that the label will become “EMI Records’ dedicated home for releases from Motown’s revitalised US operation alongside a new generation of British Black music”.

Motown in the US has been led by the label’s President, Ethiopia Habtemariam, since 2014. Her major moves in the role have included the striking of a partnership with Atlanta-based Quality Control Music (QC) in 2015.

Motown’s recent successes in the US have included Lil Baby, who has amassed nearly 20bn global streams, sold over 10m track-equivalent albums over the past four years, and whose My Turn album is the No.1 biggest seller of 2020 in the US.

Habtemariam and her team have worked closely with Pascoe and Henry-Fontaine on breaking Motown repertoire in the UK for the past nine years via Virgin EMI, including the likes of Lil Yachty, Migos, Lil Baby and City Girls.

EMI President Rebecca Allen said, “The music of Motown has long influenced British culture and continues to provide the ultimate creative inspiration for generations of artists and fans.

“With the launch of Motown Records in the UK, with a dedicated team and resources, we’re looking forward to bringing the music of this culture-defining label and its artists to the widest possible audiences as well as building an energising and inspiring new roster at the label. Rob and Afryea are two of the most inspiring executives within the music business.

“Having already worked incredibly closely with the Motown team in the US, I have no doubt that their energy and ambition will lead this label into a very exciting new chapter in its history.”

Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam said: “The past five years have been a period of tremendous global growth for Motown, through artist development that’s central to our company’s 60-year history and via entrepreneurial partnerships that have greatly expanded our reach.

“The timing could not be more perfect for the launch of Motown Records UK, and I’m looking forward to working closely with Rebecca, Rob and Afryea as we sign and develop exciting new British talent, expand our platform for Black entrepreneurship in the UK and guide Motown towards even greater global success.”

The promotion of Pascoe, who will continue in his wider ambassadorial role for EMI with a particular focus on supporting the label’s US repertoire, comes after 18 years with Universal Music, where he has worked with the likes of Rihanna, Jay Z, Justin Bieber, Kanye West and The Killers, for the past two years as General Manager of Virgin EMI.

Afryea Henry-Fontaine’s promotion from Senior Marketing Manager to Marketing Director comes after eight years with the label, having risen quickly up the ranks after joining Universal Music in 2012.