The move would be a coup, breaking up Columbia's winning team of Barnett and co-chairman/CEO Rob Stringer, which leads the industry in U.S. album market share with total share of 9.17% current at 10.79%; and album plus TEA share of 8.64%, making it the No. 1 label in each of those categories.
When asked about his plans for the EMI labels, UMG CEO Lucian Grainge told Billboard.biz on September 24 -- the day the acquisition was cleared by the European Union and the Federal Trade Commission -- "To have a healthy, strong Capitol Records and Virgin Music is a good thing for the music industry. We will bring more investments by entrepreneurs and musicians than there have been for a long time. We will be doubling the A&R investment these labels have been making in recent years, and that will work its way through the industry ecosystem.
He added that in "growing the Virgin and Capitol labels ... I don't see this as reducing the number of majors but rather strengthening two of industry's best-known labels with investment. … We are going to create more choice for artists and more entrepreneurial opportunities with the investment we're going to be making. I believe in working in with a wide variety of popular music and entrepreneurs as we've done with Cash Money and Scooter Braun's Schoolboy Records, for example."
As for musical-genre focus, he said, "I think in terms of urban and rock music, these are areas that will receive a boost."
What Barnett's departure from Columbia might mean for the label's leadership - and who might replace him -- was unclear at press time.