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Read Universal Music Chief Lucian Grainge’s Holiday Message to Staff

Lucian Grainge
Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge sent a holiday message to the company’s staff. It follows below.

Dear Colleagues:

Even before wishing you all a happy holiday, I want to say two things:

First, thank you, and, second, congratulations.

You have made 2019 an astonishing year for UMG, another one that will go down in history.  Never before have our artists and labels attained such worldwide success.  In fact, no other music company has ever come close to matching what we achieved this year.  As the driving force in our industry, relentlessly focused on the future, we often fail to take even a moment to celebrate what we’ve accomplished, and I’d like to do that now.   Therefore, let’s pause for just such a moment, to take stock and share a few highlights of how astonishing this year has been.

In 2019 to date, we were proud to have:

  • A UMG artist at the Top of five major platforms (Amazon, Apple, Deezer, Spotify, YouTube), and for each platform, a different Top artist (Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, J Balvin, Post Malone, Daddy Yankee)
  • Four of the Top 5 US debut albums (Taylor Swift’s Lover; Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding; Jonas Brothers’ Happiness Begins; Ariana Grande’s thank u, next)
  • The No. 1 song on Apple for more than 60% of the year
  • The No. 1 song on Spotify each week for the first 39 weeks of the year
  • The Top 4 tracks on Spotify globally
  • Four of the Top 5 global albums on Spotify
  • Four of Spotify’s Top 5 most-streamed artists of the decade (Drake, Post Malone, Ariana Grande, Eminem)
  • In the UK, 5 of the 10 best-selling singles and albums including Lewis Capaldi’s single (“Someone You Loved”) and debut album at No. 1
  • In Germany, the Top 2 albums of the year (Rammstein and Sarah Connor)
  • In France, the Top 2 albums of the year (Angèle and Nekfeu)
  • Universal Music Japan had two of the Top 5 albums (back number and King & Prince)
  • Universal Music Latin America had 3 of YouTube’s Top 5 most-viewed music videos globally.

And when we look at what we accomplished in music publishing the results are no less extraordinary. Universal Music Publishing Group:

  • Signed publishing agreements with Alicia Keys, City Girls, DaBaby, Idris Elba, Lil Baby, Lil Tecca, Logic, Maren Morris, Rosalía, Brad Tursi, Tierra Whack and Kris Wu to name a few, and
  • Solidified its position as the music publisher of choice in film and TV by signing new agreements with Amazon, MGM, Paramount and Viacom, and by building on existing relationships with Disney, DreamWorks, DreamWorks Animation, HBO, Legendary Pictures, Lionsgate, MarVista Entertainment, NBC, Sesame Workshop, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures, among many others.

How did we do all that?  Simply put, our success stems from the nature and strength of our culture.  We think and act like entrepreneurs, questioning the status quo, standing apart from the crowd, not taking ‘no’ for an answer, anticipating the disruptive forces just around the corner and then finding ways to deal with them not as threats but opportunities.  Creative contrarians to the max, we push. While our labels and other businesses have significant autonomy and, as a result, are highly competitive even with each other, they are guided by one overriding principle: we are stronger together.

It’s no accident that we have built the largest, most diverse, and most innovative music company in the world.  When we work in concert, there’s nothing we can’t achieve. And let’s never forget what forms the very foundation of all our endeavors: we are thrilled to work with some of the most talented people on Earth.

In 2020, our transformation will only accelerate:

  • By employing every conceivable form of media—short-form, long-form and interactive video, spatial audio, immersive content, gaming, live streaming, physical, social—and expanding the reach our artists can achieve, we’ll provide them with new opportunities for commercial and creative success.
  • Our investment in developing technologically powerful tools for artists and labels is only just beginning. The recent launch of the Universal Music Artist app, for example, puts powerful analytics and insights into the hands of every one of our artists and managers, enabling them to grow careers by leveraging our global scale and expertise.
  • By providing even more powerful resources to entrepreneurs, independent labels and artists in order to foster more creativity and diversity in the music ecosystem.
  • Our efforts into new markets will expand significantly.  We’ve already demonstrated the success of those efforts with so many non-English songs having set global consumption records.  This year we significantly expanded our operations in China and Southeast Asia and launched new labels in Africa, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.  By continuing to invest in local-language music, and then finding audiences for that music around the world, we’ll keep growing by making the world a little smaller.
  • We’ve already begun to redefine marketing in the age of streaming by combining the best creative campaigns with data, insights and audience monetization. With new teams in place and skill sets getting broader and deeper, we are fashioning an entirely new approach to marketing music and artists in the streaming age.
  • And in the physical world, we will be bringing to life our artist and label brands in ways never seen before, providing fans incredible experiences.

As we close out the year, I want to say how insanely proud I am of each of you.  You are all critical to UMG’s highly unique culture because of your enduring passion for music.  You recognize the remarkable power of artistry by helping our artists bring their creativity to the greatest number of people everywhere.

As we’ve seen countless times, the universal nature of music can bring people together.  In a world that may too often seem nonsensical, music makes sense. We’re lucky to be a part of a company grounded on such a vital, joyous and indispensable aspect of our humanity.

I’ll end this year-end note where I began, with my deepest appreciation.  Once again, thank you, and congratulations.

Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful and peaceful holiday and a happy new year.

Lucian