Francis Keeling Named Universal Music's Global Head Of Digital Business
Francis Keeling Named Universal Music's Global Head Of Digital Business

Universal Music Group is once-again ramping up its digital operations with the promotion of Francis Keeling to the role of global head of digital business.

Effective immediately, Keeling will report to Rob Wells, UMG president of global digital business and will remain based in London. Prior to the appointment, Keeling was VP Digital, at Universal Music Group International (UMGI) - a position that he has held for the past three years. He joined the music major in 2002, having previously held content and business development posts with Vivendi, Launch.com, Pearson and the Financial Times.

In his new role, Keeling will assume responsibility for generating growth and new revenue streams for Universal Music's digital businesses worldwide, according to a statement from the label. One of his core tasks will be working with the company's digital partners, including retailers, telecom operators, ISPs, device manufacturers and social networks, to create and license new digital opportunities and propositions.

"Francis is by far the best at what he does in the entire global music industry," said Rob Wells in a statement. "He is expert at finding the commercial viability in any new business model or in an existing model that needs to be finessed," Wells went on to say, adding that Keeling "troubleshoots like a true entrepreneur, is a joy to work with, and continues to impress and inspire people who work alongside him."

Commenting on the appointment Francis Keeling said in a statement: "The internet is a global economy, and it is vital for Universal Music to have a global approach to licensing our partners, to encourage investment, new models and their international expansion. I am extremely excited to be leading this process to grow the digital business for UMG and our incredible roster of artists."

The announcement of Keeling's promotion coincides with the same-day publication of a guest editorial column for U.K. newspaper the Financial Times (behind a pay-wall) in which he calls for greater external investment in the music business. Entitled "Now's the perfect time for investors to target music," Keeling pays tribute to what he terms the "continuing conveyor belt of British talent."

"This represents a creative success story that sees the U.K. punch well above its weight in the global market," he continues, before stating the case for continued investment both from within and outside the traditional industry. "A key part of our growth will come from external investment in new digital services," he goes on to say, citing Spotify as a platform that delivers a better alternative to piracy and offers an appealing business model to consumers. "Retailers, with the support of rights owners, need to offer consumers long-term trials, so they can assess what model is right for them. Spotify has proved this, by converting millions of its free open service users to paying subscribers," Keeling states.

"Only by working in conjunction with technology can we, the music creators, beat the pirates at their own game," he goes on to say, concluding with the edict that "Now is the perfect time for investors to target music."

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