Universal Music’s Lucian Grainge charts bold course for 2024 in memo to staff

Universal Music Group’s Chairman and CEO, Lucian Grainge, shared his New Year’s memo with the company’s staff, outlining the significant achievements and initiatives from 2023.

In the extensive note procured and published by Billboard, Grainge revisited key themes from his 2023 New Year’s address. He emphasized the need for an updated model in the music industry.

This includes addressing streaming royalty issues, combatting fraud, and responding to the influx of non-artist content on platforms. Grainge also underscored the necessity for a forward-thinking approach to navigate the challenges and opportunities posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Grainge highlighted the strides made in these areas, pointing to the adoption of artist-centric principles by several global platforms, including the world’s largest music platform.

The collaboration with YouTube emerged as a strategic move, enabling artists to leverage AI advancements by developing customized tools tailored to their unique needs.

In addition to industry-specific efforts, Grainge acknowledged UMG’s impactful involvement in health and wellness, climate change, sustainability, and societal change. The company’s task forces and foundations played a pivotal role in supporting initiatives that leverage music for mental and physical health improvements, contribute to societal well-being, and enhance healthcare opportunities for musicians and their families.

The memo emphasized UMG’s continued success, with its artists, publishing clients, and labels dominating year-end charts, solidifying the company’s position as the most successful in the history of the music industry. Looking ahead, Grainge outlined UMG’s ongoing global expansion, with a particular focus on regions such as the Middle East/North Africa, Thailand, India, and China. The strategic plan involves actively signing and developing local artists, providing comprehensive global promotion, distribution, and artist services, and strategically acquiring local labels, catalogs, and artist services businesses.

Discussing future plans for 2024, Grainge highlighted the accelerating pace of change and reiterated the commitment to industry leadership. The focus is now on “growing the pie for all artists” by strengthening the artist-fan relationship through curated superfan experiences and innovative products. Internal enhancements and strategic partnerships with diverse platforms are envisioned to achieve this ambitious goal.

The memo also hinted at an organizational evolution, suggesting potential changes in the company’s operational structure to ensure agility and responsiveness in the face of evolving opportunities and industry dynamics.

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