Lucian Grainge Charts Global Expansion, New Marketing Strategies & More in Holiday Letter to UMG Staff

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Joe Pugliese
Lucian Grainge

In a celebratory holiday letter to staff, Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge said that 2019 "will go down in history" for the record company, and outlined plans to expand internationally, leverage new forms of media to promote its artists and more in 2020. 

In an email obtained by Billboard, Grainge noted UMG's dominance on streaming services over 2019. A UMG artist landed at the top of five major platforms' year end lists -- Amazon, Apple, Deezer, Spotify and YouTube -- and for each platform, a different top artist (Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, J Balvin, Post Malone, Daddy Yankee).

Grainge also took stock of the accomplishments at the company's publishing arm, writing that UMPG 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, as well as agreements with Amazon, MGM, Paramount and Viacom. 

"How did we do all that? Simply put, our success stems from the nature and strength of our culture," Grainge wrote. "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."

Looking ahead to 2020, Grainge outlined major goals for the company. That includes using "every conceivable form of media" -- short-form, long-form and interactive video, spatial audio, immersive content, gaming and live-streaming -- to expand artist influence. UMG will also invest in more "technologically powerful" tools for artists and labels under its umbrella, building on the recent launch of its Universal Music Artist app. 

Grainge went on to say that UMG will push into new markets and "contin[ue] to invest in local-language music," having already expanded operations in China and Southeast Asia and launched new labels in Africa, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

According to the letter, the label will also work on new approaches to marketing in the age of streaming, "by combining the best creative campaigns with data, insights and audience monetization."

"As we’ve seen countless times, the universal nature of music can bring people together," Grainge wrote in conclusion. "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."


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