Jeffrey Harleston
Courtesy of Universal Music Group
United States

Universal Music Group


General Counsel / EVP, Business & Legal Affairs

Harleston was up to his neck this year with prep for Universal Music’s successful IPO, which launched Sept. 21. As if that and overseeing the ongoing legal and business affairs of the world’s largest music company isn’t enough to keep a man busy, he added the interim title of Def Jam CEO in early 2020, a duty he’ll hold until Tunji Balogun takes the reins at the start of the new year. Harleston didn’t slough in that side job, though, as the label’s market share has almost doubled thanks to platinum albums by the likes of Justin Bieber, Kanye West and Jhené Aiko. He remains a co-chair of UMG’s Task Force for Meaningful Change, which this year hired social justice advocate Dr. Menna Demessie to be senior VP and executive director of that group.


  • Universal Music Group
  • Interscope Geffen A&M


  • Williams College (MA, USA)
  • University of California–Berkeley (CA, USA)

Variety Honors

  • 2020 Variety500 Honoree
  • Variety Legal Impact
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News from Variety

Jeffrey Harleston Oversees Small Army of Attorneys for UMG's Sprawling Music Empire

Jeffrey Harleston Oversees Small Army of Attorneys for UMG's Sprawling Music Empire

It would be an understatement to say that Jeffrey Harleston is a busy man. As if being general counsel and executive VP of business and legal affairs for the world’s largest music company, Universal Music Group (UMG), wasn’t enough, he has five or six other major gigs going on simultaneously.For the past year, Harleston, who is keynote speaker at Variety’s Power of Law breakfast this year, has also been interim chairman/CEO of Def Jam Recordings. He’s overseen major releases by...


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