LONDON (Reuters) - The classical music label Decca on Monday celebrated its relaunch as Decca Classics, promising to seek out new stars and ensure that the genre remains relevant to younger listeners.
Part of the Universal Music Group, Decca Classics is already home to a roster of renowned performers including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming, Juan Diego Florez, Jonas Kaufmann and Mitsuko Uchida.
It also boasts a catalog including singers Luciano Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland and conductor Georg Solti.
"We've always done classical music, but for the first time in 30 years we've brought all sides of Decca under one roof," said managing director Paul Moseley, who will head up Decca Classics' search for fresh talent.
"It's kind of a reaffirmation of our commitment to classical music, a bit like renewing your wedding vows," he told Reuters ahead of a lunch in London formally marking the relaunch.
Recent Decca signings include U.S. cellist Alisa Weilerstein and Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, as well as Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim.
Kurzak performed at the Decca event, as did German violinist Julia Fischer, Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja and Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov.
Moseley said that unlike the world of rock or pop, rampant piracy was not the biggest problem facing the classical music business. Digital purchases account for less than 20 percent of the sector's sales, with the generally older audience preferring to own physical CDs.
Decca Classics' biggest challenge, he added, was to identify artists who would appeal to all ages.
"We're working with a largely fixed repertoire," he said. "Only by building stars can you make the repertoire fresh again and connect with younger audiences.
"Amid declining retail opportunities, it is Decca's duty to grow charismatic artists who we'll be talking about in five or 10 years' time."
He said that classical's share of the recorded music business was stable or increasing slightly, but that, given the long-term slump in record sales worldwide, "we are facing a certain amount of decline overall."
Under the relaunch, Decca Classics will officially become part of Universal Music UK for the first time.
Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato