Peter Kafka

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Old News: A New Boss for Universal Music in 2011

This one counts as news in a technical sense, only: The people who own the world’s biggest music company have finally announced plans to bring in new management.

Vivendi says it will install Lucian Grainge as head of its Universal Music Group unit in 2011, replacing longtime head Doug Morris. The Grainge era will really start this summer, since Universal’s international boss will be moving to New York in July, and he and Morris will be “co-CEOs” for a six-month stint.

This one will surprise absolutely no one as it has been in the works for a very long time, and people both in and outside of Universal have been trying to figure out how they’ll fit in after Grainge’s ascension. In the meantime, a more pressing issue for Universal is chatter that the company is looking at yet another round of layoffs this spring.

Release:

Vivendi announced today the appointment of Lucian Grainge as Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music company. Mr. Grainge is promoted from his current role as Chairman and CEO of London-based Universal Music Group International (UMGI). He will take up the position on Jan. 1st 2011, succeeding Doug Morris, who will remain as Chairman. He will relocate to New York from July 1st 2010. During these six months, Doug Morris and Lucian Grainge will act as co-CEOs of UMG. Lucian Grainge will report to Jean-Bernard Levy and become a member of the Vivendi Management Board.

Under Lucian Grainge’s leadership since 2005, UMGI has grown its market share worldwide, broken global acts and led the music industry in developing a range of new digital services. He started his career with CBS/April Music in 1979, advancing to positions in Artists & Repertoire (A&R) and talent development, and rising to senior management positions at PolyGram UK and Universal Music internationally.

Doug Morris commented: “The time has come for Lucian to step up to the CEO role. I am very happy with the new organization as I have been grooming him to succeed me for quite a while now. I know he is ready, willing and able to attack the challenges of the new decade.”

Commenting on the appointment, Jean-Bernard Levy, chairman of the Vivendi Management Board, stated: “I am delighted that Lucian Grainge has agreed to move to New York to take on the Chief Executive role. His track record speaks for itself, finding stars, growing revenues and building new business models. He has the right combination of experience and innovation to take UMG forward as the migration into the digital era accelerates.”

Jean-Bernard Levy went on: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Doug Morris for the extraordinary results he has achieved over the years in a very tough environment. After starting out as a songwriter in 1965, Doug has overseen 35 years in the business and taken it from Vinyl to Vevo. Lucian will be able to benefit from their period in tandem. I know Doug, as the chairman of UMG, will continue to provide a major contribution to the business and the music industry as a whole.”

Lucian Grainge added: “Stepping into Doug’s shoes is an honour and a privilege. This is a great industry which I believe has as much to look forward to as to be proud of. If we keep getting the basics right of exceptional music and artistry, backed by a great team and sound business sense, then we’ll continue to achieve success.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work