×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Read Universal Music Chief Lucian Grainge’s Year-End Letter to Staff

As 2018 draws to a close, on Friday Universal Music Group Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge issued a letter to the company’s staff, thanking them for “a historic year.” Read the letter in full below.

Dear Colleagues,

It is with enormous pride that I can begin my end-of-year letter by reporting that UMG continues to be, without question, the most successful company in the history of the music industry.  By every conceivable metric—whether commercial or creative—2018 was a historic year for our company.

Consider just a few of our remarkable achievements:

  • UMG artists held the top five positions—and a staggering 14 of the top 20—on the Top 100 Global Songs chart on Apple Music for the year.  Drake was No. 1 on both the Top Global Albums chart and the Top Global Songs chart.
  • Globally, UMG had every one of the top five tracks, the top four artists and the top three albums on Spotify in 2018.  Drake was the most-streamed artist, had the most-streamed track (“God’s Plan”) and the most-streamed album (Scorpion), Ariana Grande was the most-streamed female artist of the year and J Balvin was the most-streamed Latin artist.
  • In the U.S., Taylor Swift’s reputationwas the No. 1 album on Billboard’s Year-End Chart.  In addition, UMG had the top three albums, six of the Top 10 songs (including No. 1) and six of the Top 10 albums.
  • In Germany, we had all three of the best-selling albums of the year with Helene Fischer’s self-titled album, originally released in 2017, at No. 1 for the second consecutive year, Bonez MC & RAF Camora at No. 2 and Gzuz at No. 3.
  • Universal Music France had the most-streamed artist (Damso) and most-streamed track (Vald’s “Désaccordé”) on Spotify France, as well as the most-streamed album of the year (Dadju’s Gentleman 2.0) on Deezer France and Apple Music France.
  • UMG had four of the Top 5 most-streamed artists in the U.K., according to the Official Charts Company, with Drake, Eminem, Post Malone and Ariana Grande, and we had six of the Top 10 albums.
  • Queen’s iconic single “Bohemian Rhapsody” became the world’s most-streamed song from the 20th century, as well as the most-streamed Classic Rock song of all time.
  • UMPG was named 2018 ASCAP Pop Publisher of the Year, signed new global deals with Billie Eilish and many other rising stars, and renewed agreements with Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Halsey and Post Malone, among others.
  • UMPG reinforced its position as the global publisher of choice for film and TV studios by securing landmark deals with Disney Europe, Lionsgate, Paramount and Legendary Pictures, building upon its existing relationships with Amazon, DreamWorks Animation, HBO, Bad Robot, NBCUniversal Television, Sesame Workshop, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment, among others.

And that’s just a handful.

How did we do it?  Our efforts—your efforts—over the past several years laid the groundwork for this incredible performance.  Fundamental to this success is our unwavering commitment to our artists.  As disruptive forces continue to upend traditional ways of doing business, we’ve remained determined to best serve our artists by making investments, by taking risks, by actively shaping our future by continuing to transform our company.  We’ve stayed on top by accurately anticipating the creative and commercial evolution of music, and in doing so, we’ve proved time and time again that we are the best partners for artists at every stage and in virtually every aspect of their careers.  As one indication of that commitment, this year we signed or re-signed some of the industry’s most iconic artists—Elton John, The Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift, among others—in most cases covering many aspects of their careers beyond recorded music.  The fact that these artists chose UMG as their partner is strong validation of the quality of our global teams, our values and what we can deliver for our artists.

Looking ahead to 2019, we will accelerate and globally scale the key innovations we’ve been making.  And, with the continued support of Vincent Bolloré and the Vivendi Management Board, we have been given the resources and backing we need to further drive our transformation.  Complementing our creative instincts as the world’s best producer of music, going forward we will:

  • Strengthen our leadership as a producer of music-based audio-visual content.
  • Increase our proficiency in data and insights to provide artists with the most effective tools to monitor and enhance their performance on platforms all around the world.
  • Leverage company-wide information to build more fan-centric capabilities that will enable us to directly address consumers—for the benefit of artists and fans alike.
  • Continue to grow the services we currently offer artists—recorded music, publishing, brand management, merchandising, live, sponsorship—while adding new ones.
  • Accelerate our presence in high-growth potential markets.

The reason for my confidence in our ability to continue our transformation is simple.  It’s the same reason behind our remarkable success: we are not monolithic.  UMG is a collection of dynamic companies created by visionary entrepreneurs, each sharing a common belief: that an artist they discover will change culture.  That passion for bringing to the world recording artists and songwriters whose talents and potential others often don’t recognize, is at the very core of what we do and what we always will do.

While most companies try to develop unified or formulaic processes, we focus on invention, on trying new things.  And even when we’re working toward coordinated goals, our teams operate with a high degree of autonomy and independence, creating new approaches, avoiding trite formulas, all while remaining competitive yet mutually respectful.

Taken together, these qualities are the foundation of our culture, and ultimately our greatest advantage.  They will enable us to continue to evolve, creating global opportunities for our artists far beyond what other platforms or companies will be able to achieve.  We will continue to set the bar for success in the music industry, creating products and experiences that will inspire generation after generation of music lovers.

In closing, let me say thank you for your incredible work this year.  We’ve broken so many records, defied so many odds and achieved so much on behalf of our artists that this will surely be remembered as a pivotal year in the history of UMG and the music industry.  But let’s be clear: none of this could have happened without you.  Thank you for your dedication, your passion, and your willingness to embrace change and innovation.  Together we are building an incredible future for ourselves and for our artists.

Wishing you, your family and loved ones a joyous and peaceful holiday.

With my utmost appreciation,

Lucian

More Music

  • Def Jam Chief Says 'Rap Camp'

    Def Jam Chief Says 'Rap Camp' Concept 'Encapsulates Our New Direction'

    “Seventeen artists, six days, one incredible album full of new music.” That was the description used by Def Jam Records to introduce the label’s “Rap Camp” concept, which yielded the compilation album “Undisputed” designed to introduce the roster’s slate of hip-hop newcomers. Def Jam is, of course, home to some of the biggest names in rap [...]

  • Mac Miller Mural

    Mac Miller Honored With Memorial Mural: The Story Behind the Art

    Venice, California-based painter Gustavo Zermeno Jr. paid tribute to what would have been Mac Miller’s 27th birthday on January 19 with an 11-feet x 50-feet mural spread across Express Label, a custom printing and graphic design firm on Beverly Blvd., just east of N. Virgil Avenue in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Miller died [...]

  • Cardi B iHeartRadio Jingle Ball, Show,

    Cardi B's First Las Vegas Residency Confirmed for New KAOS Nightclub

    Variety has confirmed that Cardi B will be making money moves with her first Las Vegas residency this spring. Coming to KAOS, a new day and nightclub opening at the Palms Casino Resort the first weekend in April, Cardi joins a hip-hop and EDM-heavy lineup that will have G-Eazy, Above and Beyond, Kaskade and Skrillex taking [...]

  • Rapper, Songwriter BlocBoy JB Sues 'Fortnite'

    Rapper, Songwriter BlocBoy JB Sues 'Fortnite' Creator Over 'Shoot' Dance

    BlocBoy JB is joining the ranks of performers suing Epic Games for a dance move. In this case, James “BlocBoy JB” Baker filed suit against the “Fortnite” creator for the game’s use of his “shoot” dance, a dance move he created in his music video for “Shoot.” The dance move is called “hype” in the [...]

  • Ric Ocasek House

    Now Separated, Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova Seek Sale of Manhattan Townhouse

    Almost a year after top-earning 1980s supermodel Paulina Porizkova announced, via social media, that she and veteran New Wave rock star Ric Ocasek of the Cars had “peacefully” split up a year earlier, following almost three decades of marriage, the erstwhile couple’s Manhattan home, a handsome townhouse on a pretty, tree-lined block in the Gramercy [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma' Companion Album to

    Alfonso Cuarón's New 'Roma' Album to Feature Beck, Patti Smith, El-P, T Bone Burnett

    Not to be outdone by Ariana Grande’s impending record news, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón has announced the track list and release date for his new album, which, coincidentally, is also due Feb. 8. He’s the curator of “Music Inspired by the Film Roma,” which was already teased by a Billie Eilish track, and is now revealed [...]

  • cats logo

    As 'Cats' Starts Production, Downtown Lands Admin Deal for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Music (EXCLUSIVE)

    Downtown Music Publishing has entered into a multi-year publishing administration deal with Faber Music, which represents the musical repertoire from “Cats,” the beloved and long-running Broadway sensation currently being turned into a feature film starring Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Idris Elba and Judi Dench, among others. The Universal picture, directed by Tom Hooper, recently [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content